FEATURE1 January 2010

If there’s one thing I've learnt... Josie Walden

Career tips for research practitioners. This month we speak to Josie Walden, associate director at Rosenblatt

The best advice I got was… that being spontaneous requires a lot of pre-planning. Being impulsive and spur-of-the-moment always works best when a lot of thinking has occurred in the background.

The worst advice I got was… no advice at all. Even as I find myself further on in my career, there’s always more to learn and better ways of doing the job.

You know you’re doing well when… you make a proposal pitch for a national organisation via song – and win it.

Don’t overestimate… how at ease complete strangers feel in a mirrored room. You get used to it as a researcher, but for them it’ll always be a bit weird.

Don’t underestimate… the value of taking research to the source. The richness of information you can pick up from going into someone’s home and speaking with them in context continues to amaze me.

If I hadn’t been a researcher… I would have continued down the path of clinical psychology or continued with geography to become a high school geography teacher.

One moment in my career I’ll never forget is… a project for an FMCG brand in Ireland on whether or not cowboys are still cool (it turns out they are).

You must read… ‘This is Your Brain on Music: Understanding a human obsession’ by Daniel J Levitin. A fascinating book about the relationship between music and your mind, which explores how music shapes the way we feel and affects the way we live.

Young researchers should… be thrown in at the deep end from time to time to realise what they are capable of. Many skilled juniors aren’t given the chance to add value until later on down the line, when in reality they have a lot to offer.

If only this industry could… reward truly creative (yet well thought out) approaches to research. It is very easy to slip into the trap of designing research according to what the client expects but real value can be gained from stepping back and thinking afresh about the best way to approach a new brief.

One day I hope to… specialise in interactive workshops and training new researchers. Beyond that, I would like to learn how to make cheese, and own a garden to potter in.

My career… has spanned continents, introduced me to an astounding range of characters, and continues to challenge my assumptions.