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Consumer Research Manager

Claudia Cook

Tell us about your work-what do you do? My responsibility is to understand consumer needs, identify possible demand and changes in demand, and determine opportunities to link my organization with its customers (current and future). I do this by leveraging the knowledge and experience of others in my organization and industry experts. I also scan the marketplace by attending conferences, searching the internet reading periodicals, listening to new ideas and information from internal staff, with the aim to "connect the dots" of information in order to identify or analyze a new opportunity. Once an idea or opportunity has been identified, I analyze the potential for success, i.e., is there a market for it, are they willing to pay for it, where is the market , who are the competitors , etc. This is a new function at the organization, so my work and role is evolving. What skills are needed? Knowledge and experience with basic research methodologies , good analytical skills, computer skills (Excel, Power Point, Word, Internet), understanding of marketing , ability to 'think big" and "out-of-the-box," detail oriented, and manage multiple projects. What was your major? My undergraduate degree was a B.A in Business Management and my master's degree was a M.A. in Social Service Administration with a focus in policy analysis, program evaluation and marketing. How did you get started in your career? My father had been mentoring me in business since I was seven years old. At age 21, I helped him start a computer company, whereby I was responsible for marketing and sales worldwide. I was constantly "out of my comfort zone" and learned on the job with his guidance. I continued in the "business world" until I realized that I was leaning my ladder to success against the wrong wall. I went back to get a master's degree so that I could work to improve the lives of the elderly. Fortunately, I got an internship at the organization I now work for. I networked while doing my internship, which later lead to a paid summer internship to write and develop their first business and marketing plan. After graduation, I obtained a very good job in my field. However, six months later, I was recruited to come back to the organization I did my internship at. What experience do you need in this job? My experience in marketing, sales , market research, policy analysis , program evaluation , management and experience working with seniors and in the field of aging has helped me do my job. Describe your "typical" workday: At times I have five to ten projects going simultaneously, but at different stages. In one day I could be moving a few projects forward. I would also respond to needs for quick information of staff. I search the Internet daily, read, attend meetings (both internally and externally), work in Excel, analyze data, develop presentations, and write reports. The basic tasks I do are planning, conducting research, analysis, communicate findings, build consensus, integrate findings, technical assistance, attend internal/external meetings, administrative and clerical work, and build and manage my professional network. What is the hardest aspect of your job? Managing and conducting multiple research projects with no staff. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? Being able to spend the time to think, plan and impact the future changes in my chosen field. What are your suggestions for someone considering this field? Be interested in the area you research, and get exposed to marketing concepts and the importance of understanding consumer needs and wants. Develop computer skills in Excel, Power Point, Word and Internet researching. Learn how to work in teams, and take classes in marketing, research, statistics and strategy. Network, network, network and then manage your network. This field is a good way to learn about the industry of aging. Research is a means to understand it, develop skills in research, and can be leveraged into other types of work. In any field, learn concrete skills, develop a network, and obtain a knowledge base that is transferable. Think of yourself as an independent contractor in any job you do.