Profile: Our survey said...

Jenny Koo, 29, is a senior research executive at Lightspeed Research. Dan Poole discovers how her career is progressing
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The Independent Online

"I studied applied statistics with operational research for three years at the University of Hertfordshire. After that I did some travelling and got various jobs in research through Buckingham Personnel, a recruitment agency, including 15 months at GlaxoSmithKline in executive planning.

I got my current job at Lightspeed Research through the same agency. When you work in market research you can work with onsite-hosted jobs or offsite-hosted jobs. Onsite means that you do the scripting (creating instructions for the use of a web page) and you work on the questionnaires and data delivery. Offsite means that someone else is hosting and scripting and they then send it through to you. That means you have little input beyond sending samples, which are the observations from the group that has been surveyed.

I have had two roles while I've been here. To start with I was part of a team that was more offsite-hosted. I realised that I had taken that as far as I wanted to go and that I wanted to be exposed to different types of clients. In my current role, which I've been in since April, I've found that the level of understanding that clients have regarding online research varies so much. You can have management consultant PR companies and then other research agencies, so I'm being exposed to more and I think it's more challenging.

We have websites and survey panels across many countries, and these people have signed up to take part in our research. We send them an invitation and tell them there is a survey and they will then go to their member's page to take part, where they are used to everything within the Lightspeed branding. They receive redeemable points for doing this and after a while these points add up and you can exchange them for a voucher.

In my new team things vary so much. You might be calling a client that you've worked with previously, or a new client that doesn't have any research experience can come in, and you go through the aims of what they actually want to get from their research. They generally have an idea of what they want to do but then it's a case of whether we think it would work online, and whether we have any recommendations. I manage four people and they generally do the project management and I tend to oversee and get involved whenever I'm needed.

I enjoy this position as it's the first time I've actually managed and I always wanted to have more interaction with people. Sometimes we are the experts but sometimes people don't need our advice because they know it all already. But then you get some people who are completely new to online research and you can help them to get to where they need to be, and I find that quite challenging.

Any progression I make from here is probably something I'm going to think about when I'm actually looking for something. Where I am personally, what's in the market, whether something exciting in market research has come out are all things I'll take into consideration. In the last two-and-a-half years that I've been at Lightspeed things have changed so much within the industry, and it will be interesting to see where it goes next. When I first started out, most of the work I did was postal. I think that the amount of work that has gone from offline to online is pretty amazing.

I'm a member of the Market Research Society. The benefit of that is that they have the knowledge; there's a code of conduct and if you have a question you can call up and ask someone. They run a lot of courses as well.

There are so many different strands to market research. You could focus on sales, client development, or you can do what I do which is project management - I was never very interested in the analysis side of things so that's what veered me in this direction. You have to look at the business model of these companies because they all deal in market research but they're so different. You need to look at your skills and your interests and whether they will allow you to do what you want to do."

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