Great to hear from Lucia Juliano who is head of research for the UK & Netherlands at Harris Interactive, part of the Toluna Group and with a growing team of over 50 dedicated industry-focused researchers (covering cpg, technology, media, entertainment & financial services.
So, how did you get into the industry, and take us through how you got to this point?
I’d always been interested in numbers and data and what they mean – combining an unusual passion for languages with marketing and stats.
I’d worked in France, Germany & Switzerland whilst completing my degree and quickly built an appreciation for different cultures whilst building early foundations in business & commerce.
I started a grad programme in Telecoms – nothing to do with research! But a role that was very grounded in data, analytics, process management and business improvement.
From there I moved into the CMI team at Boots in Nottingham. A role in the Advantage Card analytics team – another data heavy role but very much focused on translating data into insight for the trading and marketing teams. It was there that I developed a key skill in translating numbers into business learnings & recommendations and working with stakeholders to understand their questions & how I could help them with answers derived from data.
Next stop was as Category Insight manager for Carlsberg which provided a deep dive into working with grocery retailers to bring category insight to their buying teams. I brought together learnings from market data and shopper / consumer research to deliver category insight to help grow the category for the Carlsberg brands and the grocers too.
From there I moved to The Home Retail Group (who then owned Homebase & Argos) starting in their newly formed loyalty card team and quickly moving to lead the insight team for Homebase encompassing 3 teams : loyalty data, market data and primary research. It was here that I became less the end-user of market research and more of the primary buyer / commissioning point for Homebase’s research programme – from ad & brand tracking, mystery shopping, qual, ad-hoc & shopper. The insight team worked hard to elevate shopper understanding in the business, bringing insight to trading, marketing & retail operations to better meet the needs of shoppers & grow customer closeness across all levels of the organisation.
After 10yrs+ client side the question was ‘Where next?’ and that led me to Harris Interactive, where I still am 10yrs+ later. I joined to lead the consumer products team (cpg/fmcg) and quickly had my eyes opened to what actually goes on behind the scenes to create the insight I’d taken for granted for so long! The team and business has evolved so much in that time that it has never felt ‘samey’ and I’ve always felt challenged & excited to shape the direction of the team to flex and fit with how the research industry is evolving. I recently took on the role of Head of Research for the UK and am proud to lead a team of 50+ talented, committed and supportive researchers across 3 industry sectors.
Career paths are rarely without challenges. Can you share an honest moment from your career when things didn’t go quite according to plan, but the lessons remain with you to this day?
I remember clearly at Boots when I was in my mid/late 20s being shown how to write syntax in SPSS. It very quickly became clear to me that that wasn’t ‘my path or my passion’ and I needed to put myself at ‘the right end of the data’ – in other words what the data actually meant & what business decisions could be taken as a consequence. I learnt then that it was important to be true to myself, recognize my own strengths & weaknesses & make decisions to make the most of them.
What truly interests you – what can you get excited about every day & throw your energy into. Where do you get that ‘buzz’?
Most of us have to work for a long long time so it needs to be something that really motivates us and continues to do so – that’s what I love about research – no two days are the same and I’m still learning & evolving.
Do you feel listened to, supported & challenged in your role? Is it an environment where you are growing & learning all the time?
Being part of a great team is so important – working with people with different experiences and skills who help you grow & learn is a key part of personal and career development.
How do we ensure that students and those leaving school aspire to join our sector?
Our sector is better known now than when I was starting out, but still there is more to be done.
One great way is for the sector to continually offer work experience placements for people at school / college / Uni so that people get a sense of the industry early on.
The new Market Research Apprenticeship scheme is a great opportunity for young people to join the industry as is the 10,000 black interns programme.
Do you have any advice for our sector?
Keep innovating! The pace of change is remarkable and market research needs to stay at the front of changes in technology. In a relatively short time, our lives & the mr industry have both been turned upside down by technological developments and that will only continue to evolve at a fast pace.
And do you have anyone who has helped your career so far that you’d like to acknowledge and say thanks or give a shout out to?
Ooh that’s tricky, there have been so many positive influencers I’ve been lucky enough to work with over the years. I’ve had some great managers and great colleagues and one of the best things is, having worked in several very different organizations, seeing how well each of them can work in such different ways.