FEATURE1 November 2009

If there’s one thing I've learnt... Ashe Deleuil

Career tips from research practitioners. This month: Ashe Deleuil, research director at Electric:Electric

?The best advice I’ve had was… from the psychologist Carl Rogers on the importance of ‘unconditional positive regard’. I first learnt about this when studying to be a clinical psychologist; it is essential to develop rapport and make people feel comfortable. It’s about being warm while still being analytical.

The worst advice I’ve had was… “They won’t want to work with an SME.” In my experience large companies benefit greatly by working with smaller agencies. Being small means you can be flexible, adaptable and responsive. Often the big companies tell me that for them each change is like turning a ship.

You know you’re doing well when… it’s the end of the final presentation debrief, the clients are smiling, you feel the energy in the room and, in the best case, there’s that moment of silence before they say thanks. I live for my pats on the back.

Don’t underestimate… how difficult honest and thorough recruitment is but how much you can gain by doing it well. Recruitment is the bedrock of good research, so I keep an extremely close eye.

If I hadn’t been a researcher… I’d have continued being a clinical psychologist but I would have missed the travel. My job has taken me to over 50 cities, and given that I’m from the most isolated city in the world (Perth), that means a lot.

I’ll never forget… being in Istanbul after ethnographic research for Nike Basketball, having a rooftop barbeque at the home of one of the players with all of his team mates. The coach was at the barbeque flipping the burgers and the client said “it’s same the world over, coach is boss.”

You must read… any book by Malcolm Gladwell or Chris Anderson.

Young researchers should… triple-check the details, develop a sense of tenacity, and always strive to deliver excellence as it will be noticed and clients will come back to you. An excellent job will pay dividends in the future.

If this industry could only… make research more engaging and fun, so that respondents love being part of our research experience, while still maintaining rigorous attention to detail and standards. I want to shake off the curled sandwiches and woman with a clipboard image.

One day I hope to… re-invent the viewing facility model as I don’t think the perfect facility exists yet. In the meantime I’ll continue expanding Electric:Electric, while maintaining rigorous standards and a personal touch.