connections member news

March 2015
Vol. 14, Number 2

QRCA Management News
Conference News
Chapter News
Committee News
SIG News
Member News

Welcome New Members!

Please welcome QRCA’s newest members. Feel free to email new members directly and help them transition to our association. See someone from your home state? Consider reaching out to say “welcome” — one click and one minute of your time brings immense value to a new member.

Carole Charland

Sapiens Strategies Inc.
117 Valois Bay
Pointe Claire, QC H9R4B8

Kara Crohn

EMI Consulting
3587 Mount Rubidoux Dr.
Riverside, CA 92501
United States

Ann Henry

Ann Henry Qualitative Research
1615 Hermann Drive, Suite 1121
Houston, TX 77004
United States

Denise Ho

Winnow Research Studio
86 Montell St.
Oakland, CA 94611
United States

Jan McAlonan New Leaf Research
2501 Nubian Court
Finksburg, MD 21048
United States
Karin Pavlovic Pavlovic Strategy Consulting LLC
220 Mercer St
Hightstown, NJ 08520
United States
Daniel Snider

Ducker Worldwide
1250 Maplelawn Dr.
Troy, MI 48084
United States

Perri Stern

Perri Stern Consulting
851 N 23rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130
United States

Jim White

RealityCheck Consulting Network, LLC
88 Indian Hills Trail
Louisville, KY 40207
United States

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QuickTips: “Here’s Why You Should Go to Other Market Research Industry Conferences (in Addition to QRCA’s)”

Lynn Greenberg,

QuickTips is a monthly column for Connections, providing members with quick and easy (and cheap or free) ways of doing our work and living our lives. Give us your favorite shortcuts, from high- to no-tech! Email

As qualitative research consultants, many of us are super-busy most of the time. QRCA’s annual conference is a “must-do” for learning and networking. So how can we take the time away to attend other market research conferences, no less spend the money on them? 

In fact, going to these conferences is one of the best and most efficient ways of staying current. To do a better job as qualitative researchers, we need to know what’s going on in our field and, more broadly, in market research as a whole. The marketing research industry is evolving at lightning speed, driven by technological advances and client transformations. Keeping up in the changing landscape is increasingly challenging. Industry associations have re-strategized missions, memberships and programs. Traditional industry conferences have been revitalized and new ones created. They're better than ever.

QRCA’s initiatives to keep current include collaborative partnerships with 11 industry associations, QRCA branding revitalization and membership expansion through a by-laws change. (Please make sure you vote YES by March 31.)

The inaugural Quirk's Event “Insights Experience” conference February 23- 24, 2015 in Brooklyn brought clients and vendors together. More than 30 QRCA members attended, with an abundance of learning and networking opportunities.  The 60 educational workshops included five led by QRCA members: Susan Abbott, Sandra Bauman, Jim Chastain, Naomi Henderson and Cory Lebson. QRCA was among the 80 exhibitors, with a booth staffed by Mark Sumpter and Kris Hodges. Another QRCAer, Jen Dale, exhibited her “Inside Heads” qualitative research services.

Industry conferences provide invaluable opportunities for QRCAers to expand perspectives and enhance their value as qualitative consultants. Here are five reasons to attend other market research industry conferences:

  1. Learn about the latest developments in marketing research. Discover and assess new technologies, platforms, processes, language, etc., that can be adapted for your business. 
  2. Understand how qualitative fits into the bigger landscape. Clients do not focus on methods when seeking insights on issues. They have a big picture perspective. Therefore, an understanding of the role and impact of the qualitative piece is essential.
  3. Listen and learn from our clients. What are they thinking? What are their needs and concerns? How are their roles changing? Estee Lauder, PepsiCo and Dunkin’ Donuts shared their recent initiatives at Quirk's.
  4. Connect with current and prospective clients, vendors, colleagues and collaborators. 
  5. Experience the transformation firsthand. There is no substitute for the in-person face-to-face interaction. 

There are four upcoming market research industry conferences you should consider attending. And, as QRCA members, we receive significant discounts.

  • ARF RE:THINK March 16-18, 2015 “Inspiring Intelligent Growth” in NYC brings advertisers, advertising agencies, media companies and research companies together. All will share their learnings in the changing advertising, media and marketing research world, with implications for qualitative research. There will be more than 80 presentations and exhibits on game-changing tools and technologies, as well as reporting on ground-breaking studies for mobile, social and cross-platform. Visit for more conference details.

    QRCA members will receive special pricing until Friday, March 13, 2015 only through this link:
    • One day conference attendance (choice of Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday) at $995 (versus $2,095) expires on March 13
    • Insights Zone Exhibit Hall only $25 (versus $50 for non-members) expires March 13.
    • Contact Lynn Greenberg with any questions:
  • MRA Insights and Strategy conference June 3-5, 2015 in San Diego.  Focuses on challenging the status quo by inspiring researchers to think differently on core topics. QRCA members will lead six qualitative sessions.  QRCA attendees will receive the Member rate $1,299 before April 24 and $1,599 after
  • Greenbook IleX Insights and Innovation Exchange June 15-17, 2015 in Atlanta. Brings together technology innovators, insights vendors, start-ups and clients. This is the conference’s third year and QRCA will have a qualitative track for the third time. QRCA members receive a 35% discount with code QRCA35.  

According to Jim Chastain,
“Going to these conferences is a healthy reminder that we actually compete with a broad range of insight providers who are approaching our clients with a wide range of tools. If we don’t know what everyone is doing, we can’t compete as well.” 

Hope to see you at the ARF conference!

(Special thanks to QRCA members attending the Quirk's conference for sharing their thoughts for this article: Susan Abbott, Isabel Aneyba, Jim Bryson, Missy Carvin, Jim Chastain, Jennifer Dale, Valerie Esqueda, Diane Harris, Sarah Johnson, Marie Lemerise, Ava Lindberg, Ricardo Lopez, Julie Medalis and Katrina Noelle.)

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The Latest QRCAtv Videos

One of QRCA’s core tenets is to provide continuing education for members. QRCAtv features short educational videos for our members to keep you current on the latest trends in qualitative research. By sharing content like this from our events, we are excited to provide member-only resources that are helpful for your work and personal development.

Interview: Isabel Aneyba

In this short, seven-minute educational video for members, Isabel talks about highlights from her conference presentation, “Making Your Research Pay Off in Latin America.” Isabel shares key nuggets about research in Latin America including using lifestyle questions instead of asking about income levels, not mixing genders or different income groups in one focus group and allowing Latinos to share their stories in their own way.

Click here or on the video below to access:

Interview: Liz Van Patten

In this short six-minute educational video for members, Liz talks about highlights from her conference presentation, “The New Qualitative Research: Finding the Pony.” Liz shares key nuggets from several QRCs who have successfully transitioned into today’s world of research as well as insights gleaned from interviews with today’s research consumers … our clients.

Click here or on the video below to access:

liz van patten

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Personal Connections

A Climb of a Lifetime

Sidney Clewe,

My dad and I spent eight days on the Mt. Kilimanjaro trail, reaching the summit — the highest point in Africa at 19,341 feet — on February 3, 2015 at 6:22 a.m.

We started the climb the midnight before, leaving our base camp at 15,200 feet, and continued through the night. We arrived in time for a perfect sunrise and enjoyed beautiful weather throughout the trek.

The summit picture with the sign features one of Mount Kilimanjaro’s glaciers.  Experts predict that all of Kilimanjaro's glaciers will be gone within the next 30 years; a precious view that serves as a reminder of a very rare sight on a very memorable occasion.

A Garden Party to Remember

Manuela Fletcher,

The occasion: a Garden Reception to commemorate the 175th Anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi at Government House in Wellington, New Zealand.

You may be asking, “How on earth did you get invited to this?” Good question!

While I was attending the QRCA Annual Conference in New Orleans last October, my good friend Julie from Community Fruit Wellington (a New Zealand charity I support by fruit picking and jam-making), entered her name in a nation-wide invitation ballot on Facebook. All entrants were allowed to bring a plus one if selected, and she chose me.

You may also be wondering, “What were the chances of being invited?” Another good question! This was not your run-of-the-mill ballot. It was limited to 3,000 — 1,500 VIPs and 1,500 ordinary New Zealanders of all ages and backgrounds.  Thousands of people from all over New Zealand wanted to come but only a few were selected.

Then the exciting news came: we were invited! Our special invitations arrived in the mail and the anticipation started to build.

Which lead to a third, and very important, question, “What was a girl to wear?” Julie and I excitedly planned and carefully selected new dresses. We also chose our most fancy footwear, and accessorized with matching handbags and jewelry.  

Since February is mid-summer in New Zealand, we expected the weather to be hot and sunny. Sadly, the day dawned cool and grey, with a chilly wind. Our new dresses were just not going to cut it. Warmer alternatives were considered and discarded. And given the time difference, wardrobe advice was even sought from QRCA colleagues around the world, with all feedback considered and very much appreciated. It was a tough decision, but in the end, black pants, a tunic, and a bright red jacket won the day.

After all this, you’re probably wondering, “Okay, how was the event?” In a word — marvelous!

Julie and I made our way to Government House (the Governor General’s official residence). Guests were met with servers offering trays of cider, water, red and white wine, or beer. Platters of canapés soon followed: freshly shucked oysters, tiny egg sandwiches, ceviche, salmon and cucumber triangles…it was a veritable feast!  We were also eager to sample the fresh strawberries and gelato the caterers had been promoting in the morning newspaper and on Facebook. They didn’t disappoint, tasting as sweet and delicious as the picture had promised.

We mingled with the crowds on the lawn, saying hello to a few familiar faces and exchanging comments about our impressions with other attendees. Everyone was having a fabulous time.

The Governor General addressed the crowd, and we had an excellent location on the lawn to see and hear his speech, which he read from his iPad! What would the Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey have said about that? Surely she would have offered some pithy commentary — technology has truly infiltrated everywhere!

All too soon, it was time to head home. A fantastic once-in-a-lifetime experience and a memorable event, definitely worthy of receiving a tick on the bucket list!  

The only remaining question is, “What event can I wear that new dress to?” Seems I’ll need another special occasion for that!

garden party
Julie and Manuela in front of Government House

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anisha shetty
Anisha Shetty

New Member Interview: Anisha Shetty, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Mike Courtney,

Please tell us a little bit about you.
I was born in India. I'm told I was rather demanding and always arched my eyebrows as a baby. I still can't control them, which gets me into trouble sometimes. My dad was doing his residency as a psychiatrist in England and my mom went home to have me. We moved to the U.S. just before my first birthday. My first memory is living in Detroit. I fell into a cactus bush when I was a toddler and I remember my mom and the neighbor taking out the needles with tweezers for hours. Ouch!

Growing up, I wanted to be a fashion designer or a lawyer. In a way I like to think qualitative research combines some of the creative and also more rational/persuasive aspects of my childhood dream jobs. I studied marketing and management at the University of Virginia and entered the world of marketing research with my first job at a sales and marketing consultancy. 

Please tell us about your company—what brought you to this company and your role within the organization?
My company, HawkPartners, is a boutique marketing consulting and research firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I work out of the D.C. office (well, Bethesda, Maryland but close enough). I've been with HawkPartners for five and a half years now and continue to love and be challenged by the firm. We are a very flat organization with only two titles: Partner and Associate.

As an Associate, I get exposure to a range of research in a variety of industries. Everyone also has the opportunity to contribute to firm development through account and business development teams and other internal teams. I have been on the marketing team for a number of years now.

Is there a story behind your company name? 
Yes, but I must admit that it's not particularly exciting or creative. Internally we refer to ourselves as HawkPanthers which is much cooler. I believe the story is that someone mistakenly typed in "HawkPanthers" in an attempt to get to our website and stumbled upon a spoof video by Les Singer. That really cemented the name because this guy is really wise.

What’s it like in your office? What do your co-workers talk about around the water cooler? (Do you have a water cooler? Co-workers? Pets?)
My office is a great balance. We work hard but we take time, when we can, to catch up. We don't have set hours and work from home quite frequently so we coordinate when we come into the office. We chat about a variety of things. Recently we watched a former client participate on an episode of Steve Austin's Broken Skull Challenge—that made for an exciting lunch. 

Do you remember your first few moderating sessions? If we were able to watch a video of that first session, what would we see?
I cringe a little when I watch videos or hear myself moderate. It's funny but really necessary to hear yourself so you can pick up on your tendencies. My first time moderating was a phone interview and a colleague took the time to do a dry run with me on a Sunday to make sure I was prepped. That meant a lot to me and helped me to refine my approach and feel more comfortable for show time.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered thus far as a Qualitative Researcher? How have you managed (or overcome) this challenge?
I think a challenge we continue to encounter is to reinforce that qualitative research is just that: qualitative. When it's done best, it is more exploratory and a conversation with the respondent rather than a long list of set probes and ranking exercises. Sometimes clients try to fit so much into every interview that you lose the ability to dig deep and that can be a total disservice to the overall project objectives.

We try to reinforce with the client that not every question has to be asked to every respondent and this actually allows for more thoughtful feedback, and that the discussion guide is just that, a guide not a script. But sometimes it really takes the first day of research for them to see how it plays out and rebalance priorities. Understandably, they're reluctant to cut anything until they see it live.

What role does research play in the other services your company offers? (Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?)
Research is the underpinning or focus of many of our projects. Even the more consulting-focused projects involve and are informed by some element of research. When I was in college, I thought strategy consulting was such a sexy career. Marketing research was never on my radar and struck me as quite dry. After being involved in a strategy consulting project at a former firm when I was fresh out of college, I wondered, what are our recommendations even based on? How can we say this with certainty? I now understand how fundamental marketing research and the customer voice is to strategy.

Imagine someone has created a clone of you, and the only thing left is to program the clone to act like you act. What are the most important habits and attributes your clone needs to master? What is the one thing that would tip off friends that it’s not really you?
This clone must balance a good, dry sense of humor with being a nice person. They must also be clumsy and trip at least two or three times whilst walking to truly capture my likeness. Preferably not into a cactus bush, though.

What motivated you to join the QRCA and what do you hope to gain from your membership?
I learned about the QRCA through a Young Professional Grant posting on LinkedIn and am so surprised I never knew of y'all before! I really enjoyed my first conference and interacting with members even prior to joining. QRCA reminds me of a bigger version of my firm—we hug, celebrate each other, are passionate about our industry, and love to push ourselves to be the best we can be. I totally felt that same spirit at my first QRCA conference and it was so refreshing to see QRCAers enthusiastically hugging other QRCAers with whom they reconnect with every year.

What advice would you give others in the research industry who might be thinking about joining QRCA?
Join — especially if you are working independently or within a smaller outfit. The QRCA has a real sense of community and generosity of spirit. The willingness to share resources and advice is super-helpful for researchers at any stage in their career and provides professional exposure to ensure you are on top of all the new developments within our field.

We locked you in a room and told you to watch YouTube videos for an hour — what would you do?
Get trapped in a click hole including, but not limited to, '90s music, Bollywood songs, and tutorials.

anisha shettyWe are both in your favorite city with a day in between groups. What do we do? Where do you stay? Eat?
Lovely! We would likely be back in New Orleans and we would eat, drink, and be merry. We'd stay in the French Quarter — of course — and do a music crawl of all the local spots. Hand grenades and Pimms cups would also be in order.

What do your family and friends think about your career? Do you find yourself moderating the family dinner discussion? What would your family be like in a focus group?
I am not sure my family and friends truly understand what I do. From the outside, they envy my flexible schedule, ability to travel, and the sense of fulfillment I have found with my firm. A Shetty family focus group would be a total scene. My dad is super social and would likely dominate the discussion (he's a psychiatrist). My mom is more outwardly shy and would need some coaxing and reinforcement. My brother would be honest in his opinions but his ADD would kick in at some point. That said, we are all pretty opinionated and our opinions rarely converge, so good luck getting a consensus! 

Its 6 a.m. on a Saturday — what are you doing? Its 6 p.m. on a Saturday — what are you doing?
At 6 a.m. I am fast asleep. By 6 p.m. I am hungry and either grabbing dinner with a friend, cobbling together something in my kitchen, or thinking of food. This is true of the 5 p.m.-8 p.m. and 11 p.m.-2 a.m. windows.

What books are you reading right now? (Real printed paper book or e-books?)
I prefer paper books. There's something lovely and tactile about being able to flip a page and measure your progress…and that feeling when you get to finally, dramatically shut the book. You can't replicate that in an e-book.

That said, I am trying to make my Kindle work and save a tree. I’m currently reading The Happiness Project and I love to read The Week magazine.

Your approach to technology would best be described as . . . fake it 'til you make it.

Which means you are a master at . . . restarting the computer and/or restarting the program if I encounter an issue. This works a good 60% of the time.

And still trying to completely figure out . . . Snapchat. I wish I were hip but I don't really get it.

Mac or PC? iPhone or Android? Mac that I use like a PC. iPhone that's due for an iOS update (or three).

A client tells you they'll triple your project fee if you can beat them fair and square in a game. You get to choose the game. What game do you play and how likely are you to win?
Russian roulette — jk! My company is big on the game Bear, Gun, 'Rate. It's pretty much paper-rock-scissors but you have to dramatically act it out. We make all the newcomers square off against each other in a best-of-three round of the game. I’d suggest that and win with my slick ninja moves.

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Kudos Corner

Editor’s Note: The Kudos Corner appears occasionally in Connections — whenever members want to publicly salute others who do good things for the organization. If there’s somebody in QRCA that YOU would like to commend for any contribution (large or small) to QRCA, please let us know at  All submissions will go to the Editor-in-Chief of Connections and will be published anonymously.

This month’s Kudos...

A big “thank you” to the members who have been contributing to QRCA’s visibility within the marketing research world at large.

  • Thanks to Julie Medalis and Diane Harris for stepping up to lead the QRCA Marketing Committee as Chair and Vice-Chair respectively!
  • A special thanks to Susan Abbott for so ably representing QRCA as our hosted speaker at the new Quirk's event, and for sharing her insights on Co-Creation in the Fast Lane.
  • QRCA also appreciates Kris Hodges’ willingness to staff the QRCA booth with Mark Sumpter at the Quirk's event and to Katrina Noelle, Missy Carvin and Pam Goldfarb Liss for reaching out to sponsors while attending the event.

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