FEATURE4 July 2022

Sania Haq – Research Hero

Features People

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

Sania Haq, Head of Research, AudienceNet


Sania has been in research for more than 10 years and, as well as delivering research to major corporate clients such as Google and Spotify, has specialist knowledge in running projects for government and intergovernmental bodies. She is passionate about using research for the enhancement of public good. One of her main areas of specialism relates to lesser-heard groups, and optimising methodologies to ensure that research more accurately represents their experiences/views.

Sania is a member of the MRS’s Representation in Research Steering Group, runs the MRS training session Goodbye to stereotypes on inclusive research, and writes and speaks on intercultural matters.

Sania was nominated for designing and delivering Goodbye to stereotypes, in which Sania “has created content that will help researchers far and wide in trying to make their research more inclusive”. 


What is the biggest challenge you have faced during your career?
My biggest challenge has been trying to build a sustainable career out of my passion for inclusivity and racial/ethnic equality. I got into research because I saw its potential to help achieve these things, such as by amplifying the voices of lesser-heard groups and thus helping to build empathy and understanding. However, when I first started (more than a decade ago), there simply wasn’t the interest or demand. Even giving away insights for free was a challenge. So now, even though there is much more progress to be made, I’m grateful for how far we have come. I also very much value the opportunity to help drive this change, such as through my MRS course (Goodbye to stereotypes) and work on the Representation in Research Steering Committee. 

What will be the next big trend or development in the research industry, and why?
Developments with Web 3.0 are exciting and I think our industry can play a critical role in helping to shape these. It’s an area that clients are increasingly interested in, but consumers can find it challenging to conceptualise or imagine what the future might look; innovations are still in their early stages and can feel quite far removed from the reality of today. Research technologies or techniques that can help us bring these to life more (e.g. using augmented reality/virtual reality) would be helpful, and could also accelerate innovation in our sector more widely. 

Who inspires you as a researcher?
Throughout my career, and over the last few years especially, I’ve been lucky enough to work with and be exposed to lots of talented people in our industry. I’m always inspired by their passion for our craft, whether that’s in relation to the impact our projects can make for our clients and wider society, or the technical elements of the research process. 

I’m also quite involved in the creative industries, through research and my broader work within south Asian arts and culture, and this keeps me inspired too. I love how creatives take their skills, such as singing, dancing or production, and constantly strive to create something new and different. I guess I see research in a similar way. While we often apply the same broad methodologies to projects, the art is in finding ways to keep innovating within these parameters. 

View the full list of Research Heroes for 2022