The MRS Fellowship honours research professionals who’ve made an outstanding contribution to the sector. It’s one of the most prestigious industry awards a research professional can be accredited with and is the highest grade of the Market Research Society (MRS) membership, which is why we’re delighted to have two of our own honoured this year.
Contribution to the sector
Both Josephine Hansom and Dr Nick Baker are very deserving winners, having brought fresh thinking and innovative approaches to the sector over the years. And beside this, they’ve given back considerably. They continue to work across the sector to drive change and make our industry a more inclusive place to work.
Josephine first joined the MRS in 2001, back before online surveys were available and research involved many a clipboard and telephone interview. At this time, Josephine was scripting, testing and analysing surveys before making the move to Manchester to work for a political agency. Here she began notable projects around mental health and young people, before returning to London where she introduced qual methodologies to government clients –an extremely novel idea for the time, as it hadn’t been done before.
Fast forward to 2010, Josephine joined YouthSight (now part of Savanta), where she bought the voice of the youth to the forefront and steered the development of the UK’s first and most comprehensive Gen Z insight tracker, State of the Youth Nation.
“People think about kids research quite a lot but there’s a journey into adulthood that isn’t something that many people had thought about. It was really just us championing that voice.”, says Josephine.
Josephine is a steering committee member of the MRSpride, which connects LGBTQ+ professionals and allies across the sector to create a space where individuals can feel comfortable in being their true selves whilst at work. In addition to this, Josephine is a member of Brightside Mentoring, where she mentors young people to help them figure out their career and education options.
Nick Baker’s journey into research was slightly out of the norm. Having spent nine years at university, Nick graduated with an MPhil and PhD in German anti-authoritarian politics before landing a job in competitive intelligence (or legal corporate espionage, as he’d tell his family and friends).
Nick eventually ended up at Quadrangle in 2006 and quickly progressed to CEO, before landing the role of UK CEO at Savanta during the brand’s inception. Since then, Nick has raised the profile of what research can do and helped drive the Savanta brand forward to the global presence it has today.
Never one to shy away from the truth (that’s why we’re all in research right?), Nick’s honestly and candid opinion has helped drive huge change in the sector, and has encouraged clients and peers to think differently about research.
It’s his passion to challenge the status quo that gets change actioned in his role as an MRS board member and during his time as Chair for the Delphi Group. He wants to eradicate the rules that benefit the entitled and focus on recognising deserving individuals.
What it means to be an MRS Fellow
When asked what the achievement means, Josephine commented: “It blows my mind that people have noticed what I do, and being seen for it, only encourages me to do more.
“It has really underpinned the change that we can make, such as the work we’ve done with MRSpride. It shows the impact and difference we can all make, and that’s something I wouldn’t have been able to do without the MRS.”
Josephine continued: “I’m so grateful to work in a role where I can share my passion for research and contribute to the sector. To get a Fellowship at this stage in my career means a lot. I want to give back as much as I can, because that’s what I got from it. And hopefully I have another 20 years left in me to do so.”
Nick added: “It is an honour in our industry. The success of our work is in the impact it has. This award represents the influence of our industry; market research has the power to inform better decision making, and prompt positive change.
“And to be nominated by Phyllis McFarlane who is an absolute legend in our field, a trailblazer and who puts what I do in the shadows, is a real privilege. When someone like that puts you forward, it makes me think I must’ve done something right along the way.”
Looking ahead & driving change
What’s next? Both Nick and Josephine continue to advocate for greater inclusivity, diversity and accessibility for all researchers and believe the MRS Fellowship will support them in their goals.
This week all new Fellows met to set out an action plan for furthering the industry, with each Fellow establishing what they will aim to achieve and how they will get there.
Nick commented: “For me it’s important to make sure that the work we’ve started gets finished. And that’s why being part of the MRS is important. Because stuff gets done at the MRS. It would be a lot easier to do nothing and stand in the way of change, but there’s so many areas in the industry that I would say are less progressive – and I want to close the door on that.
“We don’t just want the Fellowship to be a badge. It should represent your responsibility to put actionable plans in place that the industry can benefit from. It’s the beginning of something. Not the end of it.”
- Dr Nick Baker is Chief Research Officer at Savanta and Josephine is our new VP and youth practice lead at Savanta. Get in touch to find out more about our research and to learn about our new youth division.