FEATURE5 July 2021

Sophie Holland – Research Hero

Features People

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

Sophie Holland, research manager, Opinium 

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Sophie Holland has worked at Opinium for four years, and since May 2020 has led the company’s internal wellbeing team, introducing initiatives and gathering feedback from colleagues to improve wellbeing.

In 2019, 2020 and 2021 she ran the company’s pro-bono research sector workplace mental wellbeing research, working with the Market Reasearch Society, the Insights Association and the Research Society.

Holland was nominated as a Research Hero because: “Her work in this space will have hopefully influenced hundreds of insight leaders to make changes that could lead to improved workplace mental wellbeing practices in agencies and in-house teams, and helped thousands of researchers around the world.”

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

One of the biggest challenges I have faced so far in my career was when I started out in the industry – I started a new role, totally fresh out of university, in a new city and I was also in a particularly low place with my anxiety and depression at the time. I was scared. Scared to talk to anyone because of what they would think, but when I did reach out I was overwhelmed by the kindness and how much people wanted to help, including those I worked with.

Reaching out for help and being open about my mental health more widely has really helped me to grow and thrive both professionally and personally. I hope that my openness about this topic has helped others to not feel so alone and encouraged them to reach out.

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

Mental health and wellbeing are being spoken about more and more, and our industry is really progressing in this space, which is so encouraging to see. I think the next big developments we will see are organisations adopting a hybrid model of working, where team members can work in a way that is best for them and allows them to thrive at home and at work. I really do think that this is going to become a huge trend.

Flexible working won’t just be a ‘nice to have’, it will become a prerequisite and expectation for many when looking for roles; I think we will see talent will flock to organisations that grasp these working practices with both hands and focus on what’s best for the individuals working for them.

Who inspires you as a researcher?

It’s got to be my career manager at Opinium, Carolyn O’Meara. She has been such a huge role model for me over the last few years. Working with her inspires me to dig deeper into the data, think harder and smarter about the research design, and really push myself out of my comfort zone. I can’t thank her enough for all the encouragement and advice she’s given me over the years.

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.