May 2018
Vol. 17, Number 4

Management News

Conference News

Chapter News

Committee News

SIG News

Member News

Jay Zaltzman

Jay Zaltzman

From the President

Jay Zaltzman,

The Culture of QRCA

What is the culture of the QRCA? It's something we feel when we attend conferences and chapter meetings and when we interact on the online forum, but how would you explain it to someone who's not a member? Or someone who has just joined? As we’ve changed the criteria for membership, we want to make sure we preserve our culture. How do we go about doing that?

To me, what’s special about our culture is how much we share with each other even though we are technically competitors. When I was a new member, I was both surprised and gratified when I went to a chapter meeting and Pat Sabena shared in detail how to conduct several projective techniques. And that still impresses me today. For example, on our online forum on, members provide advice on research methodology, business logistics and anything else that will help a fellow member. I love that!

I experience the most concentrated dose of QRCA culture when I attend our annual conference (and also our Worldwide Conference — many of you may be in Valencia as you read this!). One thing we can do at our conferences, to preserve our culture, is to avoid the "hard sell" — which nobody likes! If you’re a member who also offers support services to other moderators, limit overt selling to the exhibit hall. If a fellow member talks about a problem that you can help with, of course you can let them know... just avoid the hard sell. Also, with our new criteria for membership, members may encounter more fellow members who are potential clients. Of course, many of us have been hiring fellow members for years, so this shouldn’t be new. But please remember that the "soft sell" rules apply here, too. No one wants to come to a conference to be inundated by people thrusting their cards at them asking to be hired as a moderator... just like those of us who moderate don’t want to be inundated by those providing support services.

We are putting together a Culture Task Force to look at what steps we can take to preserve our culture as part of on-boarding new members, during our conferences, and wherever else we can. Would you like to be part of the task force or do you have any ideas to help the task force? Please let me know. I look forward to hearing from you!

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Caroline Volpe

Caroline Volpe

Action! From the Board

Caroline Volpe,

The Board is excited about the following recently approved items:

  • Working with Romeo and Associates on marketing QRCA to increase awareness of the organization and the benefits of membership
  • Ewald Consulting working on sponsorship sales for the 2019 Annual Conference
  • Language that will segment QRCA members in the “Find a Researcher” directory to ease public searches
  • Registration discounts for “NewQ” and student members who wish to attend the Annual Conference
  • A program to offer members assistance with medical and other insurance needs

The next meeting of the QRCA Board will be held on May 21.

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Tom Rich

Tom Rich

Getting to Know Your Board

Tom Rich,

One of the things I love about the qualitative research field is the remarkable diversity in backgrounds of the practitioners. We come to this profession in so many ways—many roads converge in this yellow wood. I know quallies who were quant researchers first, who come from a psychology or therapy background, who come from the performing arts, who were teachers, who started out in advertising or PR, who worked in sales—the list goes on and on. Each of us brings a unique combination of experiences and skills to bear on our clients’ needs.

After having worked during high school and college as a cashier at Brooks Brothers, a US Census enumerator, and a sheet metal roofer, my first "real" job out of college was in advertising. Despite having a BA in English, I conned somebody into hiring me at Backer & Spielvogel when the firm was the toast of Madison Avenue. I worked in a number of areas at the agency, but mostly as a media planner. This was a great first job for me: I learned a ton, made wonderful friendships that last to this day—and I absolutely hated it. But I’d never say that I regret having this job, because it pointed me in the right direction. While at the agency I worked closely with clients, and realized that I wanted to go into brand management. So I went back to school, got myself a fancy-schmancy MBA, and worked in brand management for eight years. My first job (seriously) was on Tampax. I then did stints at Unilever and Nabisco, where I primarily worked on food brands, focusing mainly on line- and brand-extensions and new-business development.

After eight years in marketing, I took a breath and realized a number of things: 1) I was getting bored, 2) while I was good at certain specialized aspects of marketing, on the whole, I really can’t say I was particularly good at the job, and 3) I was especially bad at those things that get you promoted into positions that have a lot of responsibility, big paychecks and fancy corner offices with teak paneling and deep-pile carpeting. In other words, I had topped out.

However, I was well-positioned for the next step. While in marketing, I’d sat in a lot of focus group back rooms and watched some outstanding moderators work their magic (I’m talking about you Pat Sabena, Dwight Jewson, Bill Walton and Lynn Greenberg!). I’d also completed moderator training at The Burke Institute, and even had a chance to moderate some of my own research. So I jumped off the cliff: I got some business cards, bought a fax machine and told everybody that I was open for business. The first three years or so were tough—it was kind of like living in the woods, eating bugs and drinking rainwater. But I started to hit my stride in year four, and 22 years later, here I am. My brand-management background has served me well. Having run existing brands and developed new ones, I understand the challenges my clients face and the decisions they need to make on the basis of the research I conduct for them: I feel their pain. But I also love to collaborate with researchers who have different strengths and skills, and that’s one of the advantages of being active in QRCA: it has enabled me to get to know people with backgrounds different from my own, and whose skills complement mine.

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