FEATURE5 July 2021

Maria Schmidt – Research hero

Features People

The Market Research Society has launched the Research Heroes programme to celebrate the sector’s unsung heroes. Maria Schmidt has been named one of the Research Heroes for summer 2021. 

Maria Schmidt, research analyst, Into Global

Greg morris_crop

Maria Schmidt joined the insight team at Into after taking a year’s maternity leave, at a time when the pandemic led to disruption of business operations.

After starting in the role, she realised the insight function lacked a central repository to store relevant research reports and projects being worked on.

She proposed creating a report storage architecture where insights could be shared with colleagues across the business. Following approval from her manager, she developed it in a week and added features including the weather conditions on the day and upcoming company events and holidays.

Schmidt was nominated as a Research Hero for implementing this change “despite being so new to the role and also to the market research sector, and still navigating the company culture and structure”. Additionally, the repository has made sharing and disseminating insights “easier and has had a positive business outcome”. 

What is the biggest challenge you have faced during your career?

I don’t want to be sound like a broken record but returning after maternity leave the second time was a bigger challenge due to the uncertainty caused by the worldwide pandemic. I’m the kind of person who always plans and has set goals, but when you have to accept that whatever you’ve arranged has been completely re-organised, it is tough.

I think the biggest challenge was to re-evaluate my previously well-structed career path, as I’m a qualified architect but unfortunately I’ve never been able to break through to remain in the field, so I've decided to use my skills and knowledge in a completely different market. I can say with all certainty that I've made the right decision. It’s never easy to self-motivate and believe in yourself when there is little success, but my family, friends and good colleagues at Into played a crucial part to keep going and gave me the courage to carry on.

What will be the next big trend or development in the research industry, and why?

In my personal view the next big trend will be based on speed, accurate data analysis and the observation of the individuals’ psychological and emotional reactions. If we can forecast certain behaviours relevant in our industry, we can provide irreproducible experiences for customers which can be beneficial to both parties.

Artificial intelligence can revolutionise the way we have collected, analysed and evaluated data. There is a saying that you ‘don't have to be the best, but the first’ which is absolutely relevant in the research market when we are talking about new, big trends.

Who inspires you as a researcher?

Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie is a huge motivation to me as her work ethic, and unweariable dedication to make changes not only on a personal but also on a global level, always fascinated me. I must also mention Daniel Goleman’s groundbreaking books about emotional intelligence, which have shaped the way I approach others and myself in a personal and professional capacity.

View the full list of Research Heroes for summer 2021

Research Heroes is an ongoing programme throughout 2021, with a second tranche of Heroes to be published in the autumn.