Mike Browning

Senior Vice President

I am curious and I am an optimist. That's why I love research; I get to learn about a lot of different industries, their challenges and ways to make things better. I am also a weird mix of left brain and right brain, and this is the profession that lets me use both at the same time.

What's your favorite part of the research process?

There are two. First, helping clients clarify their problem, and then designing a research approach that will help them solve it. Too often, people are not clear on what the real issue is—this is true in research and in life. I find it satisfying to help clients hone in on the problem and then think through how we would go about solving it.

The second part is talking to the consumer and finding out what's in their head and what's motivating them, and then translating that back to the client to answer the business question.

And there is a funny side effect—after doing one-on-one qualitative research, I always come away being more optimistic about human nature and our country. Because I always find something I like in everyone and I think that's pretty much true for all of us. When you cut through all the differences, there's a whole lot of commonality, and I find that reassuring these days!

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

Designing and building houses. I love seeing things come into the world as a physical thing, rather than just something conceptual. In kindergarten, they had us draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I drew a picture of a house with a little man up on the roof with a hammer and nails.

What inspires you?

I'm inspired by good design. I think that beauty comes out of love. So, seeing what an artist has created is seeing a physical manifestation of the love that they have for some part of the world. I think that's what motivates a lot of human advancement.

Do you have a hero?

My mother was my biggest hero. She had a rough start in life, but she was the most optimistic person, the most enthusiastic person. She was always trying to make the world better. She taught me to be empathetic; she showed me the power of being honest, open, and passionate. She was always open to new experiences, seeing new places, doing new things, meeting new people. That was very inspirational—realizing that you can be engaged with the world your entire life.

Why is being people-first important to you?

Successful solutions stem from filling a real need. You get to real needs by understanding people first.

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

Everyone respects each other and respects the work. Everyone is committed to creating the highest-quality product and doing what it takes to get there. We are all committed to excellence in terms of the process, the output, interpersonal relationships, client service—everything. People here are very creative, open to trying new things, and open to pushing the envelope. That makes it fun and rewarding.

Tell me about one of your colleagues.

Greg is very open to new ideas and new ways of doing things, which I think is part of his success in having a thriving business for so long. He is really good about fostering new ideas and enabling other people to make them happen.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and how would you use it?

Time-travel. I'm fascinated with ancient Rome, and I would love to go back and see what it was actually like to live there in during the end of the Republic and the start of the Empire. A huge proportion of how we live in Western culture today stems from a few hundred years of Roman society. There's just so much incredible art and architecture that came out of that period, let alone ideas about government and politics. Even the history of wine is all intertwined with the Roman Empire. If I could time travel, I would just pop in and out of there from time to time.

In the Industry: Since 1981

At Bovitz: Since 2014

Education: BA in Economics from Stanford, and Master of Architecture from SCI-ARC

His best quality: Incisive