Going Places! Erin McQuitty

Great to hear from Erin McQuitty who is the Insight Manager at Condé Nast.

I first became aware of research and insights during the final year of my Business with Marketing degree at the University of Birmingham. I felt immediately hooked and realised it was exactly what I wanted to specialise in.

Alongside my studies, I interned at an amazing charity called LoveBrum, that became the inspiration behind my dissertation ‘exploring the strategic alliances between business and non profits’. As part of my dissertation, I interviewed a number of LoveBrum’s corporate partners and this was the first time I began to develop my skills in insight. I’m innately curious as a person and I found it very natural to dive deeply into discussing corporate motivations and decision makers’ experiences, thoughts and feelings.

When graduation loomed, I started to explore careers in research and insight (which was not an obvious career path at the time!), landing my first role as a research assistant at one of my favourite brands, Gymshark!

Surrounded by some of the most inspirational data and insight professionals, I quickly learnt how research and insight impacts all aspects of a business.  I loved the variety of research projects I worked on at Gymshark, whether relating to new product launches or brand campaigns, I found being the voice of the consumers at the heart of the brand truly exciting.

After my time at Gymshark, I moved to Condé Nast where I have been the Insight Manager for the UK market since 2022, working across some of the world’s most iconic brands such as Vogue, GQ and WIRED.

Two things come to mind!

Firstly, the industry is constantly evolving, meaning you never stop learning. I truly believe the opportunities within research and insights are endless. You are continuously learning as the industry is evolving with new technologies, trends or methodologies. There is always something new to explore so you feel like you are always expanding your skillset.

Secondly, it is super rewarding. There is an amazing feel of accomplishment when you see the tangible impact of a research project and knowing that your insights have contributed to strategies and decisions is immensely fulfilling.

A moment that instantly springs to mind is the first time I presented the results from a shiny new brand tracker. Did I make an impact? No. Did I bore my audience? I think I might have. I failed to emphasise the crucial ‘so what’s’, with little to no insight into action. I essentially delivered a presentation packed with numbers that didn’t mean an awful lot, I wasn’t even telling half the story. I learnt a lot from this experience, mainly the power of storytelling and the importance of crafting a narrative that not only brings the data to life, but also drives meaningful action. I also discovered the value of collaborating with other teams, both within data and insight and across the wider business, to tell a holistic story about consumer behaviour to add colour and context to the data. This presentation was a significant learning experience in my career so far!

Oh this is a tough one! I think the first thing I would say is don’t just wait for projects or opportunities to come your way. If you hear about an exciting project using a new methodology, or an opportunity to work with a new team or tool, ask to be involved! I was very lucky to start my career in a team that focused on knowledge and expertise sharing, meaning I got exposure to the day to day of those working in research, analytics and data and how each team played a vital role in telling a holistic story. Gain as much hands-on experience with different research tools, explore the diverse range of research methodologies available, and leverage as much expertise from peers as possible.

Communication and collaboration skills are also critical for success in research and insight, not only within your business but with clients too. Spend time listening to what makes your stakeholders tick so you can land your insight and tell your story in the most impactful way to make them say ‘wow’ and take action. Broaden your knowledge of other teams within the business, ask to learn about someone’s day to day, it will get you thinking about how research and insights fits the broader business context.

Inspire the next generation of research and insight enthusiasts! As a sector, we have a fantastic opportunity to shine a light on the dynamic, influential and exciting roles within research and insights. We are still relatively hidden (in comparison to some other sectors!) and I would love to see our sector doing more to show that research and insights is vibrant career path.

I feel very lucky to have worked with many incredible people throughout my career so far, and I am very grateful to everyone who has offered me advice, guidance and support. However, one particular person comes to mind, Alyson, who at the time was the Associate Director of Audience Development at British Vogue. Alyson inspired me to step out of my comfort zone, find opportunities to push myself, helped me connect with others, and massively helped me build my confidence.