Great to hear from Ray Poynter who has been in the research industry since the 1970s and whose mantra is to have fun, try to help people, learn new things, and perhaps earn some money along the way.
So, how did you get into the industry, and take us through how you got to this point?
I graduated with a degree in computer science in 1978 and my first job was writing statistical software and our main client was a market research consultant. Within a year I had set up my own software and data processing consultancy, fully focused on research. From then till now I have simply followed the new stuff.
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 was running an agency in the early 90s with a turnover of £3million, but £1million was from one client. That client cancelled all future projects due to changes that were happening in the USA – this meant making about 50% of the staff redundant – something I had never expected to need to do. Employing people never felt the same afterwards.
What two things should junior researchers focus on as they progress in their careers?
Making sure that their managers/bosses know what sort of work they like and making sure they volunteer to do that sort of work when it is available. Ask questions, in most meetings people say ‘Are there any questions and nobody speaks, you will help yourself and others by asking questions.
How do we ensure that students and those leaving school aspire to join our sector?
We need to develop our younger people faster, that will attract other young people. Too often we make people do things like a dummy research project and presentation as part of the recruitment – and then we don’t let them present to clients for years.
Do you have any advice for our sector?
Focus on helping organizations make better decisions – don’t be too precious about whether something is or isn’t market research.
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?
People who have helped me develop over the years include Alan Frost, Wendy Gordon, Colleen Ryan and Peter Harris.