FEATURE4 July 2022

Brittany Nicols – Research Hero


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

Brittany Nicols, senior vice-president of Marketing & Communications, InnovateMR


Through more than 15 years of experience in the industry, Brittany has honed her proficiency in nearly every stage of the research journey. As senior vice-president, marketing and communications at InnovateMR, Brittany wears many hats essential to the daily function of the business leading teams in marketing, corporate training and bid management. She also shares her knowledge and expertise with the wider industry as a WIRe Mentor and is especially passionate about helping young professionals develop their careers.

Brittany is a diversity, equity and inclusion champion and leads the InnovateMR Voices of Inclusion group dedicated to advancing workplace culture and inclusivity. She advocates for diverse leadership and fostering strong cross-culture communication.

Brittany was nominated for her role as a mentor and “her ability to elevate her team and empower them to be their best selves, personally and professionally”. 


What is the biggest challenge you have faced during your career?
Fighting the stigma around advancement and leadership without a university degree. Yep, just like Abraham Lincoln, Walt Disney, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, I don’t have a university degree. However, I don’t have billions of dollars in my bank account to free myself from the voices of insecurity and self-doubt that have, at times, wracked my brain.

Since starting my career, I’ve always made a habit of being the first through the door and the last to leave. I have studied all the nuances of every role I’ve served, and cross-trained with other departments so I could understand what my colleagues were doing and how I could work more efficiently with them. I am curious, capable, and driven.

More importantly, the biggest challenge has actually been inside of myself. Having to learn how to quiet the voices of doubt and shame inside of my own mind, and instead seeing my lack of degree as my superpower. I published an article about my career in a paper I wrote called Are you an Imposter?, hoping to help others who have been in my position or similar positions realise that they can do anything. It requires confidence, empathy, a strong work ethic and positive self talk.

What will be the next big trend or development in the research industry, and why?
Disintermediation and democratisation of research. Research has already started and will continue to be available to anyone and everyone who wants to ask insightful questions. Strong business answers and futureproofing has become essential for not just savvy researchers, but marketers, product developers, project managers and more.

Companies want DIY tech solutions with the data quality/reliability to match. This means that the traditional research buyer profile and how they buy is constantly changing to encompass more groups, making my job as a marketing professional slightly more challenging. But it is also an exciting opportunity. More businesses are truly understanding the power of insights, specifically younger professionals. This makes me especially happy to see, because I am a champion for guiding young professionals to grow their career and realise their full potential, faster.

Who inspires you as a researcher?
My friend, colleague and researcher extraordinaire, Lisa Wilding-Brown. I joined InnovateMR because of her, and I have stayed because of her incredible leadership. I could probably write an entire paper on the things I have learned from her over the years, but I’ll try to keep it short.

Lisa inspires me to bring my best self to work each and every day. Her passion for research and quality are unparalleled, and you see her excitement about driving the industry forward through every conversation you have with her. She was recently appointed chief executive and is a true inspiration to women everywhere that the sky it the limit in your career.

She has taught me through her actions to lead with empathy; empathy cross pollinates throughout your relationships with your colleagues, your team and even your clients. It is so important as leaders that we put yourself in their shoes, remember all the times that you were beaten down, denied opportunities, or needed a project to close. Instead of saying “Well, back in my day, that’s what I had to go through, so that’s just the way it is and you have to experience that too”, be the change you wish to see. Instead, say something like “Because I had to experience these things, I will do everything in my power to avoid you having to go through that”. Overall, just be a good person. Lead with empathy, passion, and excitement. 

View the full list of Research Heroes for 2022