Staff Spotlight – Stella, Research Manager

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.

Where are you from and where are you based?

I’m from Sardinia, in Italy. I’ve been living in London for twelve years and I also lived in Portugal when I was in my early twenties. We recently moved to Surrey and absolutely love our surroundings. The countryside is on our doorstep.

What’s the most challenging part about being a Research Manager?

Query design is challenging and fascinating at the same time. Partly it depends on the project scoping phase which must be solid and well defined. However, the spontaneity of online conversations cannot be accounted for and may require deviations from a linear path. We can discover new nuances and conversation topics that require us to verify and adjust the scope with the client to ensure the overarching research question is answered. This is the beauty and richness of social data.

Another important aspect is making sure we have good code frames in place that help us capture the variety of people’s perceptions and views on topics of interest but also what matters the most from a client perspective. Perhaps the most challenging part is making sure all the stages of the process are aligned and deadlines are met. Joining all the dots to look at the big picture is one of my favourite tasks.

What do you most enjoy about your job?

The opportunity to look at spontaneous conversations happening on social media and related to a wide variety of topics. It’s a breath of fresh air. I discover new things and new perspectives. It’s creative and I can draw on my background in Psychology. I particularly like the idea of making sure people’s voices are heard and valued. Indeed, lots of people are sharing their experiences and perceptions on public social platforms so, technically speaking they have a voice. But, are we listening to them? There’s an opportunity to be of service to both them and the client. It’s about understanding their views from an open and empathetic place, making sure we include their different voices not to favour the ones who shout the most. Looking after them from an ethical perspective is a must. Relaying our insights onto our clients to improve their communications, services, or products is purposeful.

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

Office politics are minimised. Plus, what’s different and special at the same time is the opportunity to work with a wide range of clients, from charities to profitable businesses and across industries. Some studies have a strong marketing orientation while others explore social topics more broadly. It’s stimulating and never dull. In addition, Jeremy and Mike are very keen on work-life balance and support us to achieve it. Despite the job being remote, I never feel isolated when I work. Our group chat is very entertaining. We talk about how we feel at the start of the week, what we do over the weekend, or comment on relevant news, exchange recipes and support each other. The team is diverse and it’s always interesting to hear their views.

What is your secret to making progress each day?

Setting goals and breaking down tasks into smaller chunks. Avoiding procrastination and taking the bull with the horns if needed. Communicating with colleagues or clients is also very important to make progress.

What do you enjoy doing outside of your job?

I love to explore the English countryside with my family, play with my daughter, and meet friends over the weekend. In spring and summer, I enjoy walking on a sandy beach and staring out at the sea. I am an avid reader and fiction writing has always been a hobby of mine. I read anything from journal articles to non-fiction or fiction books – crime, romance, thriller, espionage, mystery, dystopian –  I recently enjoyed reading novels written by Ian McEwan and Elizabeth Strout.

Art exhibitions, musicals, concerts used to be a must but I neglected these interests since I became a mum and the pandemic didn’t help. I love to exercise at the park, surrounded by magnificent oak trees. It helps me to get in touch with nature and boosts my well-being.

What did you want to be when growing up?

I vividly remember my science teacher bringing an ancient skull at primary school. I touched it with my hands as it was the most magical object ever. At that time, I decided I’d become a palaeontologist. As a child, I also considered becoming a ballerina or a writer. But my interest in social psychology and behaviour has always been there. When I was in middle school, I’d read psychology books already. My interest shifted from fossils and bones to what’s inside our heads. Oh, and there was a time when I thought that buskers had the coolest job ever, particularly those walking on stilts. I still get fascinated by them.


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