OPINION14 October 2019

The importance of getting involved

Opinion UK

In the third in our series of articles from current members of the MRS main board, David Alterman shares his opinions of stepping up to the challenge of joining the board.

David Alterman

I’ve been in research for a long time now – starting as a graduate trainee in the 1980s, working at various agencies in the UK as well as spending several years working in the Asia Pacific region.

So, I have spent my entire professional life in research agencies. And remarkably – most of the time – I continue to enjoy the intellectual challenge, the variety, the people, the clients, the wins (enough to get me through the losses).

The Market Research Society (MRS) has always been a shadowy presence in the background; I was conscious that it should represent the beating heart of the industry, but never really understood what the MRS actually did.

But rather than moan about the lack of relevance, I thought I’d try and do something about it. So, I put my name in the hat for the MRS Main Board elections in 2013 and was lucky enough to get elected. I have remained on board ever since.

And I’m glad I did.

While frustrations remain, what is clear is that there are numerous like-minded people on board, passionate about a great industry which has kept us stimulated and more importantly financially afloat for years. There are healthy debates – generally about the benefits or risks of change. There are existential challenges to deal with that threaten the fabric of the industry itself – how to manage the growth of data analytics, working with GDPR, coping with the collapse of the classified advertising market, let alone Brexit, and rogue polling agencies. Meaty issues which matter and which we as industry people can provide a helpful point of view.

The main board meets four to six times a year – and these meetings continue to improve – minimising time spent approving pre-circulated papers so we can discuss and debate these big hairy issues.

And we all take on sub-committee work. I’ll be honest I wasn’t thrilled when I found myself on governance and nominations teams. But in both cases things have been surprisingly interesting.

Working in a small team to revisit some of the arcane processes the MRS has had in place for years and trying to streamline committees, boards, elections to make us fit for purpose has been a worthwhile challenge. And now on nominations, helping to ensure we get a diverse range of great people actively involved in the MRS is a terrific opportunity.

There is a time commitment but it’s healthy time, thinking about issues that affect the industry and by implication my own business. And spending time with people who care just as much about research is stimulating and enjoyable.

If you think the MRS and the market research industry is perfect as it is then please don’t put your name up for the main board. But if you think there is room for improvement then get involved.

Your industry needs you.

You can find out more about the MRS Main Board vacancies and process for nominations here.