FEATURE8 March 2017

Young researcher Q&A: Graeme Cade

Awards Features Innovations Technology UK

Graeme Cade of Circle Research is the Market Research Society (MRS)’s 2016 newcomer of the year. He’s also &more’s – MRS’s new network for young professionals -  first young researcher of the month. He reveals how he deals with the research ‘image crisis'.

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Name? Graeme Cade

Job title and company? Client director, Circle Research

Where do you live? London

Education? Bachelors & Masters degrees in Engineering from Cambridge University 

How long have you worked in market research? Three years

Was becoming a market researcher accident or design? Complete accident

Please elaborate…  After graduating, I worked at a small strategy consultancy. When I decided that I wanted a change, I approached a recruitment consultant with a brief – find me a job in strategy at a company where I truly believe in the culture and can see myself enjoying working for a number of years. The recruiter suggested that I should meet Circle – he knew I hadn’t considered market research but thought it would be a good fit. So I met with the three company directors and had a chat. I came away thinking: ‘I really like them and what they’re doing but I’d never thought of working in market research before’. I later discovered that they’d come away thinking: ‘we like him but have no idea how he’d fit into our company!’ Despite the barriers, the enthusiasm was there, so we made it work and I’m still here over three years later.

The worst thing about my job is… the image crisis. I was talking at an event with industry peers recently about whether or not we identify ourselves as ‘market researchers’ to friends. The overwhelming response was ‘no’. This is a symptom of some long-standing image problems with market research – it’s unfortunately not too unusual for the industry to be perceived as non-strategic, tick-boxing, data dumps… While these impressions are changing – and there are now some great companies out there doing fantastic work – it can take a while to change minds. 

What is the strangest piece of research you’ve been involved in or have come across?  I like it when you find unexpected parallels in bizarre places. We have a lot of technology clients with whom we’ll often talk about the role of tech in work/life balance. I recently saw some new research suggesting that ants – commonly perceived as workaholics – also need work-life balance and that their ‘laziness’ increases as the population grows. Could be interesting to get an SME and a corporate in a room together and see if they agree!

What’s your favourite methodology? We try to focus on the outcomes rather than the methodology… that said, I do like client workshops. Like many other forms of internal research, client workshops are under-used (and often under-valued). I’ve found you can get fantastic insights that really empower clients simply by getting their internal stakeholders together in an open, collaborative and focused environment.

What bit of your job will be extinct/automated in ten years’ time? Admin – everything from arranging meetings and presentations, to booking travel and filing expenses. This is already starting to become a reality via the likes of Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. I’d expect it to have a big impact on the little things in working life over the next few years.

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever received (work or personal)? I was once told that good map-reading isn’t about always going in the right direction but about being able to recognise when you’re going the wrong way and recovering quickly. I think this is great advice across all walks of life. In business, I’m a strong advocate of: ‘don’t be scared of things going wrong’. Progress only ever gets made when you try new things and learn from them.

What would be your advice to anyone contemplating joining the industry? Find a company where you think you could be happy going to work – every job will have its ups and downs but enjoying your working environment and getting on with your colleagues is the difference between terrible days and ok days and the difference between good days and great days.

What would be the research project you’d most like to work on? There’s been a lot said in recent years about the relationship between businesses and society; particularly about social capitalism and whether business and society are allies or enemies. With the public sector being stretched to breaking point it’s probably more critical than ever that we figure out how this relationship can work best. There have been many Government-led initiatives in this area over the years but for the solution to be truly successful I think it needs to be business-led. It would be fascinating to work with business leaders from companies of all sizes and industries to figure out whether and how social capitalism can become a true reality.