Debbie Kreger

Senior Vice President

I'm an eternal optimist at heart, who looks at life as a series of puzzles to solve. I love to make people smile, whether it is through a simple compliment, an unexpected gift, or even a random kind gesture to a stranger. We never know the impact our words and actions will have on another person, and I find it empowering to think of my miscellaneous interactions with others as potentially being meaningful moments in their lives. Although I like to stay busy in my daily life, I definitely appreciate my tropical vacations when I can detach, relax, and rejuvenate in all the beauty that nature has to offer.

What's one of the best pieces of advice you've ever gotten?

This is going back many, many years, but it's done well for me, and that is to just keep things in perspective and take life one day at a time. When I was 23 and diagnosed with MS—while I was in grad school and three weeks before my wedding—I started going to group therapy sessions for stress management. And there I really learned to put things in perspective and remind myself that things could always be worse, because the more I worried and stressed out about something, the worse my condition got. So, I was doing myself a favor by reminding myself that whatever was stressing me out was not the end the world and I would get through it. Since then, with whatever challenges I've had to face, I've been able to use that advice and just roll with the punches, keep a positive attitude, and know that everything will work out.

What inspires you?

Stories of survival and overcoming all odds. It's just amazing that people can go through so much and go on to lead happy, fulfilling lives. And it seems to me that many of the kindest and happiest people are those who have had some of the greatest struggles or obstacles to overcome.

If you weren't working in research, what else would you be doing?

I would probably want to go into forensic science. It's similar to what I do now in that it's all based on research and science and solving puzzles. I've always been fascinated with the human mind—that's why I got my degree in psychology—but I'm particularly interested in criminal behavior and what makes people do the crazy things they do. I had thought about being a psychologist in the prison system so that I could really figure out what makes criminals tick and if they can be helped to become more mainstream and all that, but I ended up going into market research instead...it's a much safer career!

What's one thing you love about working at Bovitz?

The number one thing is the people. And these aren't just your average people. They are so smart and so dedicated—they're the cream of the crop, really. Everyone comes from such varied backgrounds and shares their experiences and skills with everyone else; they're all really good at contributing their own piece to the collaborative puzzle. There isn't a single person here who I don't admire for what they bring to the company. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts here. And everyone genuinely cares. We hire good people. It's so nice to be with such an elite group.

Why is being people-first important to you?

Being people-first means that we look beyond ourselves and acknowledge each individual's value in everything we do. I believe that "people"—whether it be our clients, their consumers, our coworkers, or even random individuals we interact with in our lives—are critical pieces of the puzzle for us to be able to succeed in our professional roles and in life, overall. Listening to people, assessing their needs, and being empathetic, means that we remain focused on what is truly important for us to make an impact in this world that benefits us all. And, on the flip side, if we aren't people-first, then what is our purpose and how could we possibly succeed if we keep blinders on and think only of ourselves and our own personal agendas?

What's your favorite type of research project to work on?

Segmentations. I'm always curious about what makes people different from each other and how you can classify those differences in various ways. I really like the statistical backing of the analysis—I mean, everything we do is both art and science, but I find the science behind segmentations particularly comforting. And I love how useful segmentation work can be for our clients once they understand that people fall into different categories and not everybody is going to be their target consumer. Segmentation is a valuable research methodology for showing how we really are all different in a lot of ways, and similar in other ways. I'm always trying to figure out where I fit with different groups of people out in the world, so it's fun for me to do a segmentation of a new category and then identify where I fall within the segmentation.

Tell me about some of your colleagues.

Cara is someone who I know I can count on for anything, whether it's professional or personal. When things get really tough at work, she doesn't even wait for me to ask her for help; she can sense when I'm getting stressed and she'll jump in right away to preempt the situation from getting any worse. Even for things that aren't her responsibilities—she's willing to do whatever to make my life easier. And it's because she genuinely cares. And then personally, she's always been very supportive. And honest—she doesn't hold back or sugarcoat anything. But she's also sensitive and articulate, so she can phrase things in a constructive way that doesn't make me defensive. I appreciate that. I appreciate her.

What's one quality you admire in someone else and wish you had more of?

Creativity. Because I've always been so analytical and logical, I tend to be a little bit more confined to a box. It's out of character for me to immediately or comfortably step outside of that box. I've gotten better at it, but I see people like Alexandria or Manoj or Marissa who have that talent, and I envy how naturally it comes to them. I do scrapbooking and sometimes I'll do it with other people and I'll look over at what they're doing and think, "Oh my gosh, that's so amazing." And then I'll look at mine and it's so structured and organized. I think it would be freeing to be more creative; it would liberate me from rigidity and structure. It would allow me to express myself in ways other than what I'm already comfortable with. To be creative, you have to be pretty confident because you're putting yourself out there in a subjective way. I'm a little too self-conscious to just let go like that; I'm more confident in my concrete, more objective skills.

Tell me one thing on your bucket list.

Two things—one, I want to go on an African safari for an immersive experience in the animal kingdom on land, and two, since I'm a scuba diver, I want to dive with whale sharks. I've gone diving in coral reefs and with sharks before, but I want to experience the big, majestic creatures of the sea like whale sharks. I see videos of things like people rescuing a whale that was caught in netting or something, and they just look so peaceful and friendly. I just want to cuddle with them. To be next to them in the water would be amazing.

What's one of the best compliments you've ever received?

The best compliment I've ever received is that I'm a "wonderful mom" and I've done a great job in raising my 3 daughters to be happy, loving, considerate, and hard-working individuals with a strong sense of values. I feel that raising well-adjusted and productive children is one of the biggest (and most important) challenges I've taken on in life, and on the few occasions when I've been told by others that I've done an amazing job as a mom—well, it definitely gives me a great sense of pride and accomplishment.

In the Industry: Since 1993

At Bovitz: Since 2011

Education: BS in Psychology from Cal State University, Northridge; PhD in Experimental Psychology from USC

Her best quality: Authentic