FEATURE28 July 2011

E-Rewards boss putting family first

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E-Rewards president and CEO Chris Havemann announced yesterday that he was stepping down. We caught up with him to find out what prompted the decision and what Havemann has planned for the future.

Chris Havemann’s time with Research Now – and perhaps research more broadly – is drawing to a close. He’s been at the helm of one of the industry’s biggest names in online research for more than a decade but he didn’t set out to make it big in this market. At least not initially.

Research Now evolved from the mobile advertising firm The Mobile Channel and grew to become a £40m-revenue business before being acquired by rival sample supplier E-Rewards at the end of 2009 for £85m.

Havemann was made president and CEO of the enlarged company, but ultimately the logistics of running a company headquartered in Texas while his family were in the UK proved too taxing. Yesterday, he announced his resignation but will stay on until a successor is appointed.

“After 11 years it’s one of those things where you say ‘There comes a time…’” explained Havemann when asked what had prompted his decision to step down.

He said: “Having a job that’s centred on one side of the Atlantic and living on the other is hard work really.” Havemann said he had been travelling “almost every week” for the past two years, trying to stay connected with the firm’s staff in the US and other offices around the world.

“It was an honour for me,” he said, “but it also meant I was running a Texas-headquarted company while I live in London, and my children live here.”

Looking back on his time at Research Now and then with the enlarged E-Rewards group he said: “I’m really proud. We started with nothing: no clients or business model and built Research Now up and by 2005 we’d floated on the London Stock Exchange and were competing with much bigger companies. It got to the stage where E-Rewards was number one in the US and Research Now was number one here so it made sense to come together.”

As to what happens next, Havemann says he plans to take “two or three” months off to decide, but concedes, “It may or may not be in market research”.

But if he does remain in the industry he has ruled out any sort of role that would require him going up against his old colleagues. “I wouldn’t want to compete with Research Now,” he says. “I wouldn’t out of principle.”

@RESEARCH LIVE

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