Connolly Smith

Research Manager

I'm a fixer and a fighter. I love to solve problems and I don't believe in giving up. From my relationships and career to my hobbies and health, I attack my life with passion and determination and never settle for anything less than my best. I believe in fighting for the underdog and representing those who can't speak up for themselves. Compassion, empathy, and positivity are just as important in my life as logic, analytical thinking, and realism. My family, my girlfriend, and a few close friends are all I really need to be happy. But what keeps me sane are rock climbing, healthy food, regular acupuncture, an awesome playlist or interesting podcast, exploring new places, and always having a fantasy novel on hand.

Tell me one thing on your bucket list.

Really my one bucket list goal is to see as much of the world as possible. I could name specific places or things I want to see, but there's just so many that it makes more sense for me to focus on this one overarching idea. I've traveled a lot, I continue to travel, and I never want to stop traveling. I think this passion is something I was raised with. My grandparents actually picked up and moved my mom's family to Italy when she was a child, and they lived there for a couple of years. My grandfather worked for the government, so they spent most of her upbringing traveling to crazy places—places that weren't necessarily safe, or even had political unrest. So, I was raised with all these stories of expanding your horizons and seeing these incredibly unusual parts of the world. And when I started doing these things for myself, I found that those were the times when I was my happiest. I have a very adventurous spirit. LA is quite a bubble—I feel very fortunate to have grown up here, but I also feel super fortunate to know that the rest of the world is not like this.

Why are you working in research?

I'm just an insanely curious person, and I feel like in research you're always learning something new—a new methodology, a new technique, a new industry, a new product, new types of people that are different from those in your daily life. So, I just love that there seems to be endless growth and no two days are ever the same. I'm also often accused of being intensely logical by the people in my life, and research seems to be an awesome place to apply that skill.

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

I know they don't often get a lot of love, but I really do enjoy trackers. I like seeing the growth over time; it's not just a snapshot—you're getting to see how things change and develop. There's a depth to them that you can't achieve on a one-time project. There's always something new going on, and I feel like I have so much context and history that enables me to interpret what is happening at any given moment. I like that sense of continuity.

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

I think there are four things, and they all represent different sides of my personality. One, I could totally see myself flipping houses. I'm interested in design and I love being involved in remodel and construction projects. I also love seeing the potential in the ugly little places that no one else wants. Two, I could see myself getting into podcasting, especially about social science. Three, I'm an obsessive reader, and while I don't necessarily see myself writing novels, I could see myself editing or reviewing them. And particularly fantasy—I probably read one fantasy novel a week, on average. I love the creation of a world beyond our own and envisioning what could be rather than what is. And then the last one is that I could see myself leading team-building retreats. I love getting people to break out of their shells and establish connections and develop rapport with each other—I find it so rewarding. This is probably why it took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up—I have very varied interests.

Why is being people-first important to you?

Being people-first means that I care. I care what you think. I care what you have to say. You're not just an ID number in an online survey or a "recruit" for an interview. You're a person with an opinion, an experience, and a perspective that matters. And it's my job to tell your story.

Tell me about one of your favorite people in the world.

My niece Kaelyn is one of my favorite people in the world. She is only 18 months, but she is a rockstar. One of my favorite things about her is her utter self-confidence and determination. My sister does these daily affirmations with her where she'll ask my niece this list of attributes, like "Who's so smart? Who's so strong? Who's so tough?" and every time, Kaelyn points to her chest proudly with both thumbs. And she does this adorable little thing where she pretends to flex her muscles. She's just this small but mighty example of the next generation of powerful women setting the world on fire.

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

My friend Winta has this unbelievable skill of always making you feel like you are the most interesting person in the world when you're talking to her. And I call her out on this because I care about her personally, but she's also incredibly good at always bringing the conversation back to you and wanting to hear about you and your life. So, I tease her that she's deflecting and hiding something, but, in reality, she's just such a caring person that she really does want to know absolutely everything that is happening to you. And even if it's just some inane story, she seems to genuinely care and find it interesting and never wants you to stop. That level of empathy and ability to get people to open up to her is something that I really admire.

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

The people. We have a very unique company in that there is no person I could point to and think that they don't pull their weight or aren't valuable to us. Every person is exceptionally intelligent and has really unique skills to bring to the table. And then on a personal level, the people we work with day-to-day are kind and compassionate and caring. We're genuinely interested in each other's well-being and have each other's back. It would be just as easy for us to have a competitive culture where we're trying to one up each other, but instead we have one where we're trying to lift each other up.

Tell me about one of your colleagues.

Ben has this unbelievable ability to help me stay calm and relaxed even through the most stressful situations. He just has this unwavering faith that everything will be ok and he manages to pass that on to the people around him. And I find that when we stay calm like that, we're able to handle situations more easily and more thoughtfully. So, he's been a huge influence on my personal zen.

What's your idea of the perfect Saturday?

My perfect Saturday would involve sleeping in until at least 10am, then lounging around reading a fantasy novel and drinking a cup of matcha green tea. After relaxing for a bit, I would go to the beach with some friends to play beach volleyball and paddle tennis until we dropped. Next, I'd grab those friends for an awesome dinner at my favorite restaurant in LA - a local Malibu Greek place called Taverna Tony's. I'd finish up the day relaxing on the couch with my current book, accompanied by a bowl of chocolate ice cream from Van Leeuwen (my favorite local ice cream shop).

In the Industry: Since 2013

At Bovitz: Since 2013

Education: BS in Business Administration from Georgetown University; Master of Communication Management from USC

Her best quality: Determined