NEWS27 November 2020

Obituary: Michael Warren

News People UK

UK – Michael Warren, former director general of the MRS, died in November. He was 75.

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Michael Warren spent the great majority of his working life in the research industry, but initially and possibly uniquely for a lifelong researcher, trained as an actor.

After an upbringing in Upminster, and a brief spell in local journalism, in 1965 Michael went to the Central School of Speech and Drama in Swiss Cottage. This benefitted his future research career since it taught him to speak beautifully and always stand as if on centre stage. Sadly, however, his acting ambitions came to naught. Following a couple of years in rep in Manchester, he decided that another more productive career direction was needed.

During his inevitable breaks from acting, he had trained as a business and industrial interviewer for Research Services Ltd. So eventually, turning his back on acting, he moved to London to follow a career in research, and became a full-time employee of RSL, rising to be an associate director working on social and public sector projects.

In 1980, he moved on to be the director of the survey unit at the Consumers’ Association, campaigners for consumer rights and publisher of Which? magazine.

Michael stayed at the CA until 1987, when he took on one of the most senior research roles in government, as director of research at the Central Office of Information. The COI had a well-deserved reputation for conducting the highest quality work into the effectiveness of government advertising, and Michael’s role as director was to ensure this continued, which he did for the following six years.

In 1993, he took on the role as director general of the MRS, at a time when the Society was changing from a relatively small association to a much higher profile organisation, having invested in its own premises.  

Michael was already an active member, having worked on the Professional Standards and Education Committees and served on the Management Committee of the IQCS. The role as director general was certainly challenging, as the finances of the Society were not strong at the time, but with the support of the chairman, David Smith, the situation gradually improved.

David said that Michael was "the epitome of what I like most about people in the market research industry. He was a kind, decent, clever, and artistic man who put integrity at the heart of everything he did. It was a pleasure to work alongside such a gentle, eloquent, and talented colleague."

Michael left the MRS in 1997 and spent the rest of his working life as a consultant, mainly in social research, and as a visiting professor at the University of Surrey.

Sadly, he was diagnosed with dementia four years ago and spent his last years in a care home. He leaves his wife, Lindsay, and a daughter, Rebecca.