Q: Describe your role at The Future Laboratory
I lead global insight projects, most of which are large-scale qualitative pieces. Basically, I get to do one of my favourite things in the world, to find out why. It involves designing tailored research solutions for brands that want to make the future happen. I then implement them with our team of talented researchers in a way that engages consumers in creative, meaningful ways. Every project is different and requires getting under the skin of businesses and brands, and the lifestyle and needs of consumers and cultures around the world. What I love about my work is that every day I leave the office having learned another incredible thing about the world in which we live.
Q: What road led you into the strategy and consumer line of work?
I have always been a geography geek, from a very young age. I used to love maps and, thanks to a wonderful geography teacher, I quickly learned there is a lot more to the subject than glaciers and rivers. At university I thrived when given the opportunity to research a topic of my choice. I chose something close to my heart: the emotional and psychological impact of rural to urban migration among students, mainly because I wanted to explore some of my own experiences and make sense of them. That was my first real experience of social and cultural research and I was hooked. I continued researching in the academic world until I felt it was time to apply what I had learned about people, places and cultures to businesses and brands.
Q: Where did you work before The Future Laboratory?
I spent three years at GfK, working as a qualitative specialist in its Technology division. I previously cut my teeth as a commercial researcher in a small PR research and communications agency, Loudhouse. At GfK I ran international research projects and programmes for global technology brands in areas of innovation and NPD, brand and customer experience, loyalty and brand strategy.
Q: What was your first job?
I worked during the summers at high school with my dad. He is a dry stone waller, a skilled craftsman who spends his days on mountain tops building walls and land boundaries using very traditional, labour-intensive methods. My dad never paid well, but at least we had long lunch breaks together.
Q: When you are not at work, where are you most likely to be?
Doing something triathlon-related: swimming, cycling, running or in the gym.
Q: What is your favourite part of London?
The South Bank. I love the 60s architecture, the opportunity to see some incredible, free performances at the National Film Theatre and Festival Hall, people-watching, wandering around and reminding myself of that incredible skyline.
Q: What are you reading at the moment?
Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier
Q: Given that we are talking about Re-enlightenment at the moment, do you think it is possible that you will visit space in your lifetime? And would you want to?
Yes, I think it will be possible in my lifetime. I think we will see some interesting challenges and debates emerge around this area: the ethics of exploration and inhabitation of space, the need for alternative spaces and places for our growing population, and the geopolitical implications of spreading our societies and cultures into space. I would love to see space and to be able to see some of the things that have fascinated me when watching Sir Patrick Moore as a child and now, Brian Cox.