FEATURE4 July 2022

Kristin Hickey – Research Hero

Features People

The Market Research Society launched the Research Heroes programme to celebrate the sector’s unsung heroes. Kristin Hickey has joined the cadre of Research Heroes 2022.

Kristin Hickey, founder and ceo, Kubi Kalloo

S-ali Kristin is the founder and chief executive at Kubi Kalloo, a creative consumer consultancy.  Her career extends across a combination of academia, management consulting, consumer insight and strategic planning. Her passion lies in forging new opportunities in the insight industry, whether it be in overcoming biases, better fusing qualitative and quantitative data, or pushing the boundaries of what excellence looks like for clients.  Kristin is a global speaker, presenter and thought leader in the insights industry.  

Kristen was nominated because she “uses her achievements and accolades in the market research industry as a platform for supporting good causes. She gives up her personal time to add meaningful value to the arts, social enterprises, and charities – and in so doing she is pioneering methodologies that showcase the market research industry as a force for good.”


What is the biggest challenge you have faced during your career?
The pandemic has obviously been a kicker as a business owner, however, I think the question begs a less literal response. I think the biggest challenge I have personally faced is the desire for the industry to ‘pigeon-hole’ you into a uni-dimensional box – you are either a ‘quallie’ or a ‘quantie’, for instance, but this kind of thinking is a massive constraint in a world where all individuals represent a rich array of intersectional skills and capabilities (including those beyond research methodologies alone).

Intersectionality isn’t just an equality, diversity and inclusion barrier, it is a barrier that limits our industry from fully realising the capabilities of its extraordinary individuals, let alone their superpowers as collaborative teams. This is a challenge I still personally face and one we are working hard to overcome as an agency.

What will be the next big trend or development in the research industry, and why?
I would like to think that the next big development for our industry is people-related. So often, we are inspired by technological changes and advancements, but as an industry reliant on the smarts of the our people – their creativity, their ability to see patterns others may not see, their deep and intuitive understanding of human behaviour and how it might evolve; their ability to triangulate data from disparate sources and ladder this up to something bigger and more ownable – all of these superpowers are people skills.

While I love and embrace the industry’s technological and methodological innovation, I can’t help thinking the next revolution will be directed towards the early identification, recruitment, upskilling and mentoring of an increasingly diverse range of talent so our capabilities as an industry continue to evolve and our talent inspires bolder innovations and brand-building in our client partnerships.  

Who inspires you as a researcher?
I guess I’m inspired by a wide range of people, so it’s a great question and it got me looking for commonalities in those I’m inspired by.  I think it comes down to people who have a vision that things could be ‘better’. Those who foresee the status quo, not so much as a constraint, but as an opportunity to overcome and reshape what comes next. It’s those individuals who don’t like to be told what’s not possible; individuals that don’t see early failure as a form of defeat; those who fight against injustice and are passionate about equality, fairness, liberty and respect. 

In our industry, there are many individuals who have supported transformation through their tireless efforts and passion in giving back to the industry – David Smith, Kristin Luck, Vanessa Oshima, Ray Poynter – but realistically, my inspiration is mainly from outside our industry, where sacrifice, dedication and resilience have even more of an impact. This includes the famous names such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but equally, the silent individuals who make others shine behind the scenes – managers and supporters of the Paralympics, those who give up their spare time to support charities or coach children’s sport, street artists or gardeners wanting to make our everyday more aesthetically pleasing. I’m inspired by improvement in many different spheres and hope this energy, in turn, inspires others.

View the full list of Research Heroes for 2022