Staff Spotlight – Mike, Research Director

In our Staff Spotlight serieswe get up-close and personal with the members of the Listen + Learn Research team to find out who they are and what their job roles involve.

How long have you been with Listen and Learn Research and what do you do here?

I’ve been around for over six years. First as Head, then Director of Research. Seeing the team grow from three to twelve, and evolve from analysing broad sentiment towards shampoo to unpacking complex social, commercial and cultural constructs.

I’m responsible for most of our operations, sometimes from behind the scenes. Making sure we’ve all got the tools and the skills to do what we need to do. Chipping into specific projects to push them forward. Finding ways of looking for and cutting data, and getting insights from it. Tweaking our processes to find efficiencies and inspirations. Trying to support all team members when they need.  Managing our capacity, analysing and improving profitability, working to further develop our fabulous Team.

What’s the most challenging thing about being a Research Director

The fluidity of the social insight space – any two projects are rarely the same, we need to start with a blank sheet of paper very often. Staying on top of the game technologically in a very rapidly evolving environment. Managing the diverse pool of freelancers who collaborate with us. Sometimes doing all of this from halfway across the globe.

What do you most enjoy about your job?

Some of the challenges are also attractors. It never gets boring, you’re always kept on your toes. Often times you get to shape the brief with the client, leading them along the way in a new and uncharted territory. We work with some of the global household names, and our work travels far around them and we can often see it making an impact.

Last but not least I love working with our Team, even though due to the delights of Covid we’ve not met in best part of two years, and some of us have never met in person!

What makes Listen and Learn Research different from other places you’ve worked?

Well, it is a truly remote work model. And has been so since inception, much before remote working became en vogue. It has its challenges, but it is possible to build a close, creative and supportive working culture and camaraderie in this format.

Above all, however, it is the first company I’ve worked for where there are no egos, no politics and no backstabbing. It’s all about the team, and its members. We all support each other to pull in the right direction. That is immensely refreshing, unique and inspiring.

What advice do you have for prospective Listen and Learn Research candidates?

Be passionate, be curious, be creative, be nosey, be confident but humble. And show it.

What do you enjoy doing outside of your job?

Sports. I’m a road cycling maniac, also play tennis and am heavily into winter sports. I’m also into the arts and culture (partly as a proud husband of a visual artist), and politics. I strum my guitars whenever I get a quiet moment. And I’m a fairly avid cook, mostly vegan.

What did you want to be when growing up?

A fireman, what else! Or any functionary driving a car with blue lights and a siren, fast. One of those big, cool American ones preferably. My parents were both actors but even despite spending some time as a child actor I never really felt it was for me. Too shy.

Best fun facts about you?

I was a national rowing champion. I wrote a MA dissertation in political science on hip hop. One of my ancestors was a Catholic saint. I knew the entire Shakespeare’s play The Tempest by heart aged 13; I wish I had that kind of memory now! I used to be a drum N bass DJ, and a member of a sound system in Switzerland (yes, they have them there).

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