FEATURE21 June 2018

Young Researchers Q&A: the7stars

Features People UK

Sam Barton, Michelle Milner and Sam Carr from the7stars were the winners of the &more Research Team Challenge held by the Market Research Society on 13 June. We caught up with the three to find out their career highlights, what motivates them and what makes a good team.

&more challenge team the7stars june 2018_crop

From left to right: Michelle Milner, Sam Carr, Sam Barton

Sam Barton, insights at the7stars

Education: Newcastle University – English Language

How long have you worked in market research? Five and a half years.

Was becoming a market researcher accident or design? Design – I’ve always enjoyed knowing about anything and everything. I realised market research would allow me to do this and get paid for it.

What has been the highlight of your career so far? I played football against Matt Holland on a work social. As an Ipswich Town fan, it was a boyhood dream.

What’s the secret to good team building? Communicating. We have a flat structure at the7stars and it means everyone’s involved in the decision making, we all have a voice and are encouraged to use it.

If you weren’t working in market research what would you be doing? Civil engineering. My family has a history in construction and I spent a few years doing it. It was a really rewarding job and I loved the challenges I faced. I still don’t know why, but I completely overlooked it when thinking about university, etc.

Power dressing or dress-down Friday? Dress-down Friday. And Monday, Tuesday etc... I’ve never been one for shirt and ties. I don’t think it helps you write a better questionnaire, either.

What is the most stressful thing about your job? The variety. Especially at a media agency – you never quite know what your day is going to behold. It can be stressful but it’s also what makes it such a fun environment to work in. Every day is different.


Michelle Milner, insights at the7stars

Education: Exeter University – I studied Spanish and Italian, and then a Masters in International Management and Marketing

How long have you worked in market research? Three years.

Was becoming a market researcher accident or design? Design – I became obsessed with consumer behaviour whilst doing a module in it at uni, so I knew that was what I wanted my career to focus on.

What has been the highlight of your career so far? There have been so many, but nothing beats the feeling of winning external awards and being recognised for good, hard work.

What’s the secret to good team building? There’s no siloed working in our team, meaning we all know each other really well and understand our ways of working. Our flat structure also means that everyone does a bit of everything.

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever received? Be visible. This was particularly important when I was first starting out in market research, and it has really paid off.

How much travel do you do for your job? I have clients dotted all around the country, which means many a train ride to places I’ve never been to before. We hold a lot of focus groups too, which also means we have to venture out of London, to get out of the bubble. I’ve yet to go abroad with work, but never say never.

If you had the chance to go on any reality TV programme what would it be and why? I’d love to think I’m a good enough cook to go on Masterchef, but that absolutely is not the case. It would probably be The X Factor as I’m a trained singer.


Sam Carr, insights at the7stars

Education: Warwick University – Film & Literature

How long have you worked in market research? Five years.

Was becoming a market researcher accident or design? Accident – I wanted to stay in and around Leamington Spa for a while after university and was recommended to check out Millward Brown.

What has been the highlight of your career so far? The highlight for me is any time I see a client go on to use my work for actual business decisions that result in positive changes. 

What’s the secret to good team building? Different but complementary skill sets, clear goals from strong leadership, and praising good work.

What bit of your job will be automated in ten years’ time? Broadly: Questionnaire development, questionnaires themselves will become obsolete as passive, but massive, data collection becomes the main source of insight. Specifically: coding, machine coding will be dynamic and probably more accurate than manual.

What piece of tech couldn’t you live without? It’s an obvious one, but excluding my laptop to do any work, my phone is essential. Music on runs/gyms, news, social media, even my alarm clock. It’s a sad fact that it’s a genuine extension of my personal self.

What’s the most ridiculous thing a client has ever asked of you? Three or four years ago, I was running face-to-face research in Jakarta, Indonesia and Manila, Philippines. The former had severe floods literally up to the first floor of buildings, and the latter was undergoing some sort of military coup; understandably, accrual of completions grinded to a halt. Long story short, the client saw these as unreasonable delays, and it was for me, the project manager at the time, to “figure out a solution to complete on time”. Sure, I’ll just head over and solve the tense political situation of the Philippines, and whilst I’m at it, take a bucket and lower the water level of Indonesia by about 10 feet. Talk about going above and beyond.