Such a pleasure to catch up with MRS Young Researcher of the Year Finalist and ITV Commercial Research Executive, Amanda Hammond. This is a must read for anyone considering a career in market research, or who is looking to learn from someone who is definitely, on the way up!
Hi Amanda, so before I get carried away and force you to talk about Love Island, tell me, how did you get into the industry, and take us through how you got to this point?
My career in research started in 2016, when I joined ITV as the very first apprentice in their research department. I was seventeen years old. Prior to that, I was in my first year of sixth-form studying towards my As Levels, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to get the grades I needed to move onto the next year, so I started looking at apprenticeships. That’s when I discovered the ITV apprenticeship scheme. There were roles in production, marketing, sales (and other teams I’d never heard of before) – but it was the role in research that resonated with me the most. That year, over 4,000 people applied for the scheme. But I applied, went through the interview process for the role in research, and got the job! And the rest, as they say, is history…
Hoping I know the answer to this one, but can you tell me the most interesting / fun project you’ve ever worked on?
It’s got to be the programme of research we conducted around Love Island in 2019!
That year, the series had eight brand partners (the most an ITV programme has ever had) from a variety of categories and all with different KPI’s. This created a need for a bespoke approach combining four different data sources from four different suppliers (yes, four!): YouGov to understand the cultural impact of the show and movement on key brand metrics; Kantar Worldpanel to determine the link between media consumption and actual purchasing behaviour; Hitwise to evaluate the impact on the online-only brands through search and site visits; and Pulsar to measure conversation around the show and its brand partners in the social sphere.
Not only did I enjoy working on it, but it’s also been nominated for the ‘Best Use of Research and Evaluation in a Sponsorship Campaign’ at the Sponsorship Awards – which is the first time a project I’ve worked on has ever been shortlisted. It’s also the first study I got to present at a high-profile industry conference! So, it brought a number of firsts!
Incredible work, I’m sure you’ve some more stories for me, but we’ll have to move on. What’s one thing you didn’t expect when starting out in market research?
I actually have two things that I really didn’t expect: One, is just how much of our lives the market research industry has an impact on. From the TV we watch, to the products we buy to the services we use. You name it and the research industry probably has it covered!
And two, is just how different researchers are to the public’s stereotypical image. Before I joined the industry, whenever I heard the word ‘researcher’ I would always picture a person standing on the high street, clipboard in hand, eagerly trying to collect answers to a survey. But my time at ITV has certainly busted that stereotype! Of course, we use surveys but through our agencies we have access to so many other exciting methodologies – and I’ve certainly never stood out on the high street with a clipboard!
So, being client side, what do clients really want from their agency? And how should junior agency side researchers stand out and impress?
We want our agencies to be proactive and initiate change rather than sitting back and waiting for us to come to them!
At ITV, we work with many of our agency partners on an ongoing basis, so we expect them to continually be looking for ways to improve our methodologies so we can stay ahead of the curve!
Agencies also need to remember that less is more in many instances! We want actionable insights that can be easily digested and accessible to our stakeholders – most of which aren’t research savvy! So, remove the jargon (unless absolutely necessary) and speak in layman’s terms!
And as regards to what junior agency side researchers should do to stand out and impress, I think they should step outside of their 9-5 job: grasp those opportunities to network; to be mentored; to be part of a wider group in the industry like the MRS &more, the AQR Young Disruptors or the Young ESOMAR Society. Showing that commitment to your career will really make you stand out!
What are 3 qualities you think every great young researcher needs or should aim to have?
First and foremost, I think young researchers need to be curious! They say curiosity killed the cat, but not being curious killed the researcher – and that’s researchers of all ages! Don’t just take things at face value and make sure you read between the lines.
I also think they need to be brave! If you want to get involved with a project, put your hand up and ask to be included. If you want to take on a presenting opportunity, put your name forward for it! Being brave has served me well in my career. If I’d have sat back and stayed quiet then I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today!
And finally, I think they should be creative: in the ways they collect data; in the ways they visualise data; and in the ways they communicate that data.
And finally, do you have anyone who has helped your career so far that you’d like to say thanks or give a shout out to?
If I had a pound for everyone who has helped me get to where I am today, I’d have £2…But on a serious note, a massive thanks to the entire Research team at ITV who gave me my ‘big break’ and have taught me pretty much everything I know!
Also, a massive thanks to my mentor, Kate, and the team at Bloom UK who have been a beacon of light at a rather gloomy time in my career.
And, finally, to the MRS, in particular the &more team, who have provided me with some of the best opportunities of my career to date!
I wouldn’t be where I am today without any of these people!
Thanks Amanda! That was really inspiring. So much in here for young researchers to take away. I just want to acknowledge you for what you’ve achieved so far, and also for how generous you’ve been sharing your experiences and advice so younger researchers can learn, grow, develop and find their way to the top!
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