connections management news

October 2015
Vol. 14, Number 8

QRCA Management News
Conference News
Chapter News
Committee News
SIG News
Member News
monica zinchiak
Monica Zinchiak

From the President

Monica Zinchiak,

Market research has changed dramatically and quickly in the past decade, and so has the role of the qualitative consultant.  Arguably, the responsibilities of “consulting services” for which our members were once sought, are now – not so slowly – shifting to counterparts in the market research ecosystem. It is no secret that companies are often seeking guidance from branding agencies, platform providers, strategic consultants, field agencies, quantitative research houses, trend bloggers, academic professionals, and the list goes on. 

Yes, we live and work in a competitive environment, but that does not mean we should be in a battle with our market research partners or clients.  As a qualitative professional, you want to embrace this shift and incorporate the strengths and expertise of these partners, as they do you.  It is essential to make sure your skills are powerful and current by understanding and integrating new ideas and fresh thinking your clients and partners seek. Your QRCA membership provides you these opportunities by giving you access to the annual conference, local chapter programs, select webinars, special interest groups, white papers and the member-only forum.  Take advantage of these resources to learn and share your expertise with everyone with whom you work – erasing the titles that may divide us.  Because, in the end, aren’t we all working toward the same goals, objectives, outcomes and results?

Just a reminder: I am always available for your questions.  I will monitor the Member Forum closely for these questions (see the QRCA Suggestion Box) or you can contact me directly at I look forward to hearing what’s on your mind. 

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corette haf
Corette Haf

Action! From the Board

Corette Haf, QRCA Secretary,

The newly elected Board of Directors met for the first time on 10 September. We were thrilled to welcome Kathy Doyle, Tom Rich and Laurie Tema-Lyn to the Board. They did not waste any time with ‘on-boarding’ but got constructively involved right from the start.

One of the first items on the agenda was to elect the 2015-16 Officers:

  • President: Monica Zinchiak (by succession)
  • Vice President: Manny Schrager
  • Treasurer: Jay Zaltzman
  • Secretary: Corette Haf

We approved Joel Reish to be the next VIEWS Editor in Chief when Kay Aubrey steps down at the end of her term.

We also did some future planning and are excited to announce that Kendall Nash and Mark Sumpter were approved to be the 2018 Annual Conference Chairs. This was done so far in advance so that the dynamic duo can become part of the 2017 Conference team as per our policy to assure long term continuity in conference planning.

The next meeting of the Board will be an in-person, all-day affair on Tuesday 6 October in Orlando, just prior to the conference. I look forward to sharing highlights from that meeting in the next edition of Connections.

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manny schrager
Manny Schrager

Getting to Know Your Board

Manny Schrager,

Top Two Questions

When people get to know me, the two questions that invariably come up are:

“How can you work with your wife?  My ______ and I wouldn’t last a day. We would kill each other.”

“How did you become a moderator?”

The two answers are actually one story. 

Working with Andrea seemed to be a natural evolution.  Both our parents worked together, mine in retail and Andrea’s in real estate, so we grew up in an environment where working with your spouse was quite normal.  And when your parents work together, I can tell you that it involves the whole family.  Family time was often a meeting of the de facto Board of Directors.  Even when we were young, our parents sought out or were given our advice, whether asked for or not.

So what makes working together work?  Probably a lot of the same things that make a marriage work.

  • A short memory certainly helps. Get it off your chest and move on. 
  • Whenever you disagree, whomever it’s more important to wins. 
  • Different skill sets and backgrounds help.  Mine is finance, Andrea’s marketing and marketing research.
  • A great, supportive staff.  Less than a year into our “merger,” Andrea and I were able to take an extended vacation in Brazil without having to worry if the business would still be there when we returned.  We always remember that no matter what else is going on, there has to be time for the fun stuff.
  • And speaking of fun stuff, you need to love what you do – and enjoy sharing it, day and night. 

So now on to question two. How did I become a qualitative consultant? 

It was not something I ever dreamed about in college. I was going to be a doctor (if it wasn’t for Organic Chemistry). It was not something I thought about in grad school while going for my MBA. Didn’t even know that kind of job existed.  However, we all knew about the glamorous world of “big time” consulting and I was very happy to receive a consulting offer from Price Waterhouse.

When I joined PW (now PWC), our typical assignments were grounded in innovative thinking to develop results-oriented solutions. And what fun it was. For example, when you’re selling cars faster than you can bring them to the showroom (BMW), how do you get them there faster? You go to the docks, the shippers and the inventory management systems to find out where the real bottlenecks are and develop procedures to eliminate or avoid them. Or if a major factor in your profitability is how effectively you purchase commodities, how do you gauge the effectiveness of the commodity buyers? Well, you build a model to see how much the company would have spent if they had purchased the commodities when needed as opposed to covering their needs in the futures market. 

Following my passion for problem solving, I left PWC and accepted the CFO position at a client. The company was a subsidiary of New York City-based Columbia Pictures and my position offered a clear career path to the parent company. My first (and only) year was very exciting (euphemism) as there was no shortage of problems to solve. However, one insurmountable problem did emerge: my company was sold to an outfit in Wisconsin, making relocation a requirement to stay. Now, believe me when I say that I have nothing against Wisconsin, just didn’t want to live there, and neither did Andrea. 

So here’s where questions one and two converge. 

Andrea had started Meadowlands Consumer Center a year earlier.  While having dinner with my in-laws, Andrea’s dad said, “Why don’t you work with Andrea?”  Sounded like a good plan to us, so I joined her soon after. Not only did we work together but we also shared an office.  One desk, one phone, one computer but lots of piles of paper – stacked on top of each other’s. Now that is the true test of a relationship. Well, that was over two decades ago and we have never regretted the decision.  Right, Andrea?

My consulting work at PWC certainly laid the groundwork for what was to come.  My work there often consisted of engaging clients to discuss their objectives, reviewing their current methods, gathering information and developing actionable recommendations and implementation plans. Sound familiar? For my marketing research role, I did have to learn some new terminology, as financial types do speak a different language than marketers, but the transition was relatively easy.  And the marketing folks tended to be a lot more fun than the “bean counters”.    

So, my advice is that if you are thinking about working with your spouse, it is a truly wonderful sharing opportunity. There are no better successes than the ones you share, and even the lows are not so bad because you commiserate with someone who really understands. 

Last note: I want to thank you all for putting your trust in me, allowing me to continue serving on the Board as VP this year. I have gotten so much from the QRCA in these past twenty-something years, at both the chapter and international level, that I am happy to have the opportunity to give back as well. 

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