FEATURE1 April 2010

If there’s one thing I've learnt... Rupal Mathur

Career tips from research practitioners. This month, Rupal Mathur, insight consultant at the Central Office of Information.

The best advice I’ve had was… a quote I once read from JFK: “We must use time as a tool, not as a couch.”

The worst advice I’ve had was… “Don’t buy a house yet, prices are bound to fall soon.” That was eight years ago.

You know when you’re doing well when… your client gets you involved in projects long before the research stage – and asks you to stay on beyond the debrief.

Don’t overestimate… your experience in an ever-changing world.

Don’t underestimate… how much thought a seemingly straightforward research project needs.

If I hadn’t been a researcher… I would have pursued my interest in Bollywood dancing. I’ve appeared on TV and in music videos – who knows, maybe the next thing would have been a blockbuster film.

One moment in my career I’ll never forget is… presenting a paper at Esomar Congress in Switzerland last September, which was really well received and nominated for Best Case History. The title was ‘Could I just ask you a few questions as you have sex on this park bench?’

You must read… the guidelines on behaviour change that the COI has just produced. The document draws on key sources from a range of disciplines. It seeks to distil this information into some key factors that are important to consider for anyone developing communications that seek to influence behaviour. It seeks to develop a framework for applying these factors to the development of a communications strategy.

Young researchers should… not be afraid of challenging the status quo. We have used some really creative methodology to uncover insights on sensitive health issues rather than just sticking with the tried and tested approaches.

If this industry could only… be more holistic. While there is still a role for traditional methods, we need to be braver in pushing the boundaries and understanding behaviour in
its wider context. Even when analysing the data, it’s about looking at all the data available to generate insights, rather just the data you collected.

One day I hope to… be a travel writer – preferably travelling from one sunny hotspot to the next across the world. I really enjoy experiencing new adventures and cultures abroad.