FEATURE18 July 2017

Young researcher Q&A: Benjamin Moncrieffe

Features People Technology Trends UK

The latest &More young researcher of the month is Benjamin Moncrieffe of C Space, who describes the most interesting parts of his job, including how speaking to sex toy designers helped him advise an oral care client. 

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Name? Benjamin Moncrieffe

Job title and company? Account director at C Space

Where do you live? Kew, London

How long have you worked in market research? Since October 2012, when I joined C Space as an intern

Was becoming a market researcher accident or design? Accidental Design (I know that’s cheating…)

Please elaborate… I’ve always been interested in research heavy topics, (Classics and History at college, Law at university) and I then started my own freelance bartending and cocktail consulting business after I left university. Through that I’ve spent years with consumers, researching drinks, ingredients and serves… I may have sampled a few over the years as well! What piqued my interest in C Space (or Communispace as we were known back then) was the pioneering online community work – giving customers a voice in organisations, and at the table in big decisions. The essence of that work still motivates me today.

What the best thing about my job is… The diversity of clients, projects, stakeholders, products and services we get to work with and on. For me, this is a great indication of the way the industry is moving. Customers, consumers, and also employees are now directly involved in so many different strategic decisions, not just from the top down but increasingly the bottom up via co-creation and customer-led innovation.

What the worst thing about my job is… Very tricky question, as ‘worst’ implies there are bad things about what I do – which there aren’t. The worst thing is that I can’t be involved in more projects, work for more clients, work with more teams at C Space. I hear about so much amazing work around the business & in the industry and think, ‘I’d love to be working on that!’ but there are only so many hours in the day.

My dream job would be… An F1 driver! I spent a big part of my childhood racing karts and always had dreams of being the next Lewis Hamilton. Unfortunately I was never really good enough to go the distance. My passion for this still lives on in some form however as I now look after our biggest automotive client globally. Every cloud!

What is the strangest piece of research you’ve been involved in or have come across? A few years ago I was involved in a piece of work for a technology company on oral care devices, and as part of the project the team spoke to a sex toy designer to get some detailed understanding of intimate devices! Although crude, was hugely valuable to the way we looked at some of the insight from customers.

What bit of your job will be extinct/automated in ten years’ time? That’s a scary thought! But not very much. The support that clients require from us is more of a consulting model than simply a method of access to customers. Ultimately what I do is about people and always will be.

If you weren’t working in market research what would you be doing? I should think would still be in the legal sector in some form, ether as a barrister or solicitor. There are elements of representing people and telling their stories that I feel very strongly about and cross over both industries. I would probably be sleeping less though!

What would be your advice to anyone contemplating joining the industry Stay curious, no matter what the challenge, client or customer. A lot of insight or research barely scratches the surface or does enough to really get the depth that is needed to be useful. Curiosity and your perpetuation of it will ensure you don’t rest on your laurels.

What’s the most useful mentoring/career advice you’ve been given? Perhaps not useful for everyone, but my mentor in advocacy at university instilled in me the practice of setting goals. It doesn’t matter what those goals are, and they can change at any point, but it is the principle of setting a goal, stretching yourself and striving towards it that has always motivated me. No step is too small, it’s the moving forward that counts.

How long do you have to commute to work? Just under an hour. Train and a nice talk towards Southbank.

How much travel do you do for your job? More and more actually, which I really don’t mind. It can be draining for some, but I get a real kick out of travelling for work, meeting new clients, customers and expertise. I found myself in the US last year just before the election for a project. It was fascinating to meet so many different types of people and of course the political atmosphere created another dynamic.

Favourite app? From a research perspective, Periscope is a great tool for customer interactions, allowing us to have a conversation with a customer and have a number of people observing. It’s good for quick feedback and to help bring customers in to a room.

Team bonding exercises – hell or heaven? Heaven! OK, done badly they are painful, and the phrase ‘team bonding’ is cliché. But we use warm-up exercises all the time in workshops, online activities, with clients and teams internally. It’s just about picking the right exercise for the audience or challenge and executing it in the right way. Happy to demonstrate if anyone wants to get in touch!

What is the most stressful thing about your job? My job isn’t stressful. It can be challenging and difficult at times, but as is working for any agency. But what we do at C Space is immensely diverse, rewarding and motivating and I love it.