FEATURE17 October 2023

How I work: Joanne Pearson, global customer insight director, Jaguar Land Rover

Asia Pacific Automotive Europe Features Inclusion Latin America Middle East and Africa North America People UK

In the latest in Research Live's How I work series, the global customer insight director at Jaguar Land Rover discusses hybrid working, allyship and mentoring others.

Joanne Pearson

What does a typical day look like for you?
I have two children, and they leave the house at 7.30 every morning. I sometimes take them to school, but we are fortunate enough to have a lift share which spreads the burden. Some mornings I am therefore free to either start work or do some exercise – it depends whether I am in the office or working from home. 

My working day tends to be a lot of meetings, research debriefs, time with my team and stakeholders and finding some time to get through the list of actions I have. My way of recording actions is to put a star in a book next to them. It is about finding time to reduce the number of stars I have.

What priorities and issues are keeping you busy?
From a business perspective, we are developing insights about our brands: Range Rover, Defender and Discovery are now distinct brands, and of course we also have Jaguar, which we are transforming. Sustainability is a big agenda item for us as a company, and we have ambitions in that space and lots we need to do to deliver against, which needs insight to ensure that we understand the perspectives of our clients. We are electrifying all of our products – that’s a really big deal for us.

Then there is innovation. The pace of change in any industry is fast; in automotive it is considerable. Making sure our innovation is inclusive is an important agenda for my team and for the company.

Then there’s diversity and inclusion, which is something I have been passionate about for a number of years and which I dedicate quite a bit of my time to, supporting employee networks and the transformation we are making in this space. 

How do you define allyship?
I always try to use the position I have within the company to open doors and make things easier for people who don’t have the connections or confidence to ask for the things they need or to get their ideas heard. I try to listen to people and work out if I can make a difference, whether that is mentoring somebody, supporting them on their growth plan or unlocking some routes forward if there is something they are working on they need other people in the business to hear about.

I have worked on a campaign on allyship within the company, spreading the word on what it is and how everyone can be an ally, which can be simple things like making sure everyone’s voice is heard in a meeting and speaking up for someone if there’s a behaviour that is not acceptable if they don’t feel able to speak up for themselves.

What motivates you in your career?
I love customer insight. I started my career more broadly in marketing, in product development and product management. I found insight a number of years into my career, and I just love it. I love doing new things, and that’s a constant feature of the role. There is lot of ad hoc work around new projects.

I am really interested in people, which is one of the reasons why I combine my job in customer insight and passion for topics like diversity and inclusion. I love change, and we are a company and industry going through massive change, which is really appealing. Every day I try to make a difference in what I do.

What is your style of working?
One of empowerment – you get the best out of people if they are clear on the bigger picture in terms of what we are trying to do as a company, insight function or team. We have had a mantra for a number of years which is: we bring the voice of the customer into the company. We want every decision that affects customers to be informed by them and by insight. I have a really capable team who are passionate about customer insight. I make sure I check in with the team and I am always here if they need me.

Are you an office or home working person?
The perfect combination for me is a bit of both. Prior to Covid-19, we were a much more traditional business, being very office based and not much home working. Then we swung the other way, as everyone did, and now we have found our best place with a hybrid solution. There is no allocation of days, but being in the office is great – we have transformed our offices with much more collaborative spaces and not banks and banks of desks. The balance for me is great – I love being in the office, and when I am at home I save two hours a day in travel and have more time to tick off actions and for thinking time. You can do very effective meetings with the technology we have.

How do you keep a work-life balance?
Hybrid working helps with that, as it saves me two hours each day when I am working from home. My children’s school days are quite long and they do lots of after-school activities and sports, so that give some more time for working. Having a supportive husband who also does lots with the children means it is not just falling on me to do that.

Technology really helps too – you can be efficient, and we can work anywhere. There are four different office locations I can work in, and we are very mobile these days – work can happen wherever it happens rather than in one set place.

How are working practices in the industry shifting?
Covid-19 forced a lot of things, but it taught us that there was a lot of research that could be done remotely and online. It is more difficult in the automotive industry and other industries, where there is confidential stimulus you can’t show online. But there is plenty of research that could be done online, which cuts down on travel time and therefore has a sustainability benefit too and has been more cost-effective.

From the perspective of a client-agency relationship, traditionally agencies would travel to your offices and have meetings face-to-face. Actually, we don’t want people to travel unless it is a session or meeting where we have to be face-to-face. By doing things on video calls, we can deliver the insights and debriefs to many more people and multiple countries around the world.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

1 Comment

8 months ago

Have not heard the term 'allyship' - will be looking into this! Also interesting to hear about diversity and inclusion - a big issue in the automotive industry (4 in 5 are male, 1 in 10 have a disability)

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