Why are you working in research?
I’ve always had a knack for writing. I actually double-majored in Journalism and Communications, but I figured out pretty quickly that I didn’t want to be a journalist. When I was in school, it became very clear that the current belief is that “print is dead,” and I didn’t like the idea of digital journalism and having a quota of content that I’d have to hit each day. I’m a firm believer of quality over quantity so the trade-off in my mind was too much. So, I got into market research because it feels like the only other industry that is that perfect balance of storytelling and fact-based insights. I like having that anchor of data that you can’t refute, and then getting to layer on my communication skills to tell a story.
What's your favorite type of research project to work on?
Qualitative followed by quantitative. I think it’s the most all-encompassing type of project—up front, you use a first-person approach to get the broad qual insights, and then you’re able to take what you’ve learned and craft a survey where you can get the rooted-in-numbers truth. And then you can use both to create the solution for whatever question you’re trying to answer.
If you weren't working in research, what else would you be doing?
I think I would be a chef. I’ve always loved cooking, and I get an irreplaceable sense of satisfaction when I cook a meal for someone that they truly enjoyed. And the opposite is true, too—it absolutely pains me if I make a meal for someone, and I can see that it’s even just a little bit off. I like looking up new techniques and trying to master one thing at a time, so being able to keep that going and turning cooking from a passion into something that I could master, getting that precious feeling of satisfaction every time I hand someone a meal—that would be really cool. I already know that I make the best poached eggs in Manhattan—that’s already been decided.
Tell me about one of your favorite people in the world.
It would have to be my brother. He’s always been the classic older brother to me throughout my life—protecting me when it’s needed, and also letting me learn from my mistakes when that’s needed, too. He really outlined a path for success for himself that I’ve tried to emulate. He’s always been an extremely hard-worker, very organized, and has a good head on his shoulders, and I realized when I was younger that I can learn a lot from him. Having that person to always compare myself to—in a good way—was huge for me growing up. And even now, when things get tough or work gets hard, I think about how he would handle it, and I know he would do the right thing, so that’s what I should be doing, too. I consider him my best friend, and I feel very lucky that we’re able to still have that connection.
Why is being people-first important to you?
People first is something that keeps me grounded—not only in work, but in all aspects of my life. It’s a mental checklist; it helps me make sure that no stone is left unturned and I make decisions with all points of view in mind. That gives me confidence and clarity that whatever I’m doing works for everyone involved. And in market research, that’s exactly what we’re doing—capturing people’s opinions and then giving them to our clients in a way that clearly shows them how to move forward. So, if I’m making decisions at work that are not putting people first, then I’m going against what we’re here to do in the first place.
Tell me about one of your colleagues.
I admire how Manoj approaches his position. As a moderator I feel that there are a lot of times where you are caught between a rock and a hard place of getting the client the exact information and level of detail they’re looking for, while providing the respondent with complete freedom to answer a question how they choose. Watching Manoj find the perfect balance, satisfying client needs while providing a completely natural experience for the respondent, is an art in my opinion.
What's one of the best pieces of advice you've ever gotten?
Nothing is permanent. And I think that’s a good perspective whether you’re at a peak in your life, or a valley. You could be at the highest high where everything is going great, or at what you think is rock bottom where nothing is going right, and when you say to yourself that nothing is permanent, you cherish the good moments and realize just how good they are, and you motivate yourself to get past the hard moments and move forward.
What's something that people are surprised to learn about you?
I think people are sometimes surprised at the variety of things that I’m into. I’m definitely a breadth over depth kind of person. I like learning, and if something interests me, nothing is going to stop me from learning about it. So, I end up liking and knowing about things that maybe people wouldn’t expect at first. For example, if I’m walking down the street and I see a coat I like, I’m probably going to end up learning all about that brand, the material, where that coat style fits into fashion, more about coats in general—that kind of stuff. We live in a time where the world can change drastically day by day, so not learning new things or not trying to absorb all of the knowledge available to me, that would feel detrimental to me. I’m one of those people who has endless tabs open on all of my devices.
What's one of your favorite habits you have?
Every day when I leave the office, I call my mom. And I talk to her. Every day. I tell her about my day and see how her day went and then she passes the phone to my dad. Regardless of if it was a good day or a bad day, being able to talk to my parents and connect with them every day and know that everything is good—that’s my favorite habit. My parents are definitely my heroes—they provided me with a great childhood and I feel like I owe them everything in the world. I’ve seen them go through a lot, but they’ve always been strong and shown my brother and I how to deal with the situations that life gives you and move forward in a positive way.
What's one aspect of your life philosophy?
To me, there are very few things in this world that are black-and-white—that you can really only stand on one side or the other on. And I think people tend to choose one side or the other on things where there’s really a lot of gray area in the middle. I like to avoid giving things labels and classifications. I try to live in that gray area as much as possible, really taking an issue one instance at a time and considering it within that specific situation.
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