FEATURE4 July 2022

Andrew Zelin – Research Hero

Features People Research Heroes 2022

The Market Research Society launched the Research Heroes programme to celebrate the sector’s unsung heroes. Andrew Zelin has joined the cadre of Research Heroes 2022.

Andrew Zelin, Analytical Consultant, City of London Corporation

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Andrew Zelin has been working in leadership roles at the cutting edge of data science, building deep expertise in the application of analytics to shape business strategy and enhance profitability.

His first senior role saw him employed at Ipsos, working as a director to set up and lead a sampling and statistics department that generated a turnover of about £250,000 p.a. Here, he carried out a range of value-add analyses on research survey data. He is now a freelance consultant supporting clients including The Royal Society, The Family Building Society, UKHSA and Corporation of London.

In addition to his broad skillset, Andrew’s passion for developing and driving forward-thinking data-driven teams has seen him provide regular training (including sampling methods) and mentoring to up-and-coming talent through the MRS. He has also had papers published, twice winning the MRS award for best paper.

Andrew was nominated for providing "inspiration to many people, helping to build confidence, demystify jargon and give junior researchers a solid grounding on which to build their career".

 

What is the biggest challenge you have faced during your career?
My biggest challenge was when I joined (Ipsos) Mori in 2000. It was a much smaller company and had no dedicated statistical analysis department. I was taken on to supervise junior sampling analysts and inject some science into their processes, but I saw an opportunity to pull all the quantitative knowledge held by knowledgeable researchers into one place and hence build a statistics team. This provided value-add five over and above the standard cross tabulations.

The first six months was very much a learning curve where I was creating promotional material. Then, suddenly, we were receiving request after request from internal and external clients, and the department’s name was spreading rapidly through word of mouth, and we needed to take on an additional person each year. Through a number of mergers, we moved into being a large sampling, statistics and research methods centre, which I jointly oversaw. These were very exciting times and it put Ipsos Mori on the map of being a serious player within market research statistics in these critical early days.

What will be the next big trend or development in the research industry, and why?
The pace of growth and development around quantitative analytics in research – now data science – has been incredible. We have machine learning, semiotics and text analytics and new methods are being developed all the time; much of this utilising the vast amounts of data that is collected on websites through scraping, from mobile phones and various other footprints and media touchpoints. 

However, one should never lose sight of the time-honoured methods used to design surveys with robustly generated samples along with the ability to understand what makes a reliable sample and what doesn’t.  This, along with the bigger picture thinking to assess whether a methodology is fit for purpose and balances practicality with purity for the client, remains of utmost importance. I do therefore see a resurgence in the need to understand these basic techniques which underpin almost all of market research.

Who inspires you as a researcher?
Throughout my research career, my biggest source of inspiration was my first manager, Roger Stubbs, who was one of the original six people at Mori. I recall his level-headed points of view, which were always insightful and inspirational where he would be applying his wealth of experience in surveys, especially business-to-business. Although very encouraging and tactful, he was never afraid to speak his mind and feedback where I needed to raise my game. He was a great champion of the statistics department and helped us to raise our profile through knowledge sharing, presentations as well as thought leadership. He mentioned that our provision training would be one of the biggest means of encouraging clients to beat a path to our door.  I still apply what I’ve learned from him to this very day, and it works.

View the full list of Research Heroes for 2022

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