FEATURE1 September 2009

If there’s one thing I've learnt... Julia Horlov

Career tips for research practitioners. This month: Julia Horlov, partner at McCallum Layton.

?The best advice I got was… to pursue a career which didn’t make me dread Mondays. It’s a revelation to pursue a career which truly interests and excites. The ‘school tomorrow’ feeling of a Sunday evening should be confined to the past.

The worst advice I got was… ‘It’ll be quicker to go on the M6.’

You know you’re doing well when… it doesn’t seem like work any more, it’s just who you are.

Don’t overestimate… what you can do well in one day. New technologies have enabled us all to produce ‘output’ at a quicker pace but it’s important to recognise that thinking time can’t be compressed in quite the same way as a Zip file.

Don’t underestimate… the power of a genuine conversation. Meeting new clients should be as much about listening as it is about talking. Too often we can be guilty of squeezing ‘us’ into every minute of an opportunity when we should be focused on them.

If I hadn’t been a researcher… I’d still have had insatiable curiosity. It makes it easy to be a qualitative researcher if you really want to know the answers to so many questions.

One moment I’ll never forget is… when I handed out a written exercise to a group of respondents only to be told by one of them that she could not read or write. I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me but it taught me to challenge every assumption.

You must read… Cider With Roadies by Stuart Maconie for an account of what it’s like when you love what you do. His other works, Pies and Prejudice and Adventure on the High Teas, are also uproariously funny.

Young researchers should… remember that many of their clients are not so young and come from the ‘old school’ of attention to detail. Enthusiasm is no substitute.

If this industry could only… broaden its horizons. There are so many ways to be enquiring.

One day I hope to… be recognised as the genius I really am.

My career… transformed my life. My route to research, like those of so many of my colleagues, was somewhat unusual but I eventually landed in the right place and I am a fervent believer that a broad range of experience is critical to the work I do now.