Meet the team

Virginia Monk

Current Chair

Jon Wood

Company Secretary

Mike Joseph

Chair of BIG Forum

Trevor Wilkinson

Treasurer

Amy Middleton

Regional Forum Organiser

Emily Dickinson

Committee Member

Damon Thomas

Events

Claire Labrum

Ezine

John Temple

Committee member

Alexander Wheatley

Committee member

David Holmes

Events committee

Got a question? Email the team at ask@thebusinessintelligence.group

Virginia Monk

Company:
MD Motif

Role on the BIG Committee:
Current Chair

Specialty Area:
Customer Experience & Loyalty

Question #1: Tell us a bit about your background

I’ve worked in market research for more years than I care to remember. I’ve always worked for research agencies and all I’ve worked in have, over the years, either become part of Kantar or GFK. I’ve been at Motif for 21 years, with 11 of those as MD.

Question #2: Why did you choose the B2B research industry?

As a loyalty insights agency we work with both B2B and B2C brands and organisations. I wouldn’t necessarily say I chose B2B specifically but it does account for a good proportion of our work

Question #3: What motivated you to join BIG?

To meet with like-minded people and practitioners, to learn more about B2B research specifically, get the latest thinking in business research and how that is evolving.

Question #4: What does BIG mean to you?

I think BIG has two important roles to play: firstly as a source of useful knowledge and learning about business market research and the latest B2B developments, via our Forums, e-newsletter, website and so on. Secondly, it provides a place for research practitioners to network and meet others in the business research community to share ideas, tricky issues, get advice…oh and a glass of wine!

Question #5: With so much change in the B2B research industry how do you think researchers should prepare for the future?

In a word ‘engage’. Engage with your clients, their brands and markets, so you understand the issues they are facing. Engage with and embrace the changes and developments happening in our industry. These are exciting times and offer so much potential for us. And lastly, engage with BIG: there is so much knowledge and expertise you can tap into and learn from.

Question #6: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the B2B Research Industry?

People might tell you that conducting B2B research is the same as B2C. Well, that’s not always the case and an appreciation of the differences between them, at the points that matter, will make the difference between you being an ok B2B researcher & insights person and an exceptional one.

Jon Wood

Company:
Critical Research

Role on the BIG Committee:
Company Secretary

Specialty Area:
Hard to reach audiences

Question #1: Tell us a bit about your background

Having studied geography in Leeds Jon joined a fieldwork company which specialised in telephone interviewing in the financial sector. 20 years on and that same company has grown into a full-service agency servicing a large and varied group of clients.

Question #2: Why did you choose the B2B research industry?

It might be fairer to say that B2B actually chose me. Having initially worked on consumer projects, a we were approached by potential new clients interested in using our skills to help them understand more about their business customers. I was immediately attracted to the greater challenge that B2B offers in so many ways. 

Question #3: What motivated you to join BIG?

Having attended a number of BIG forums and conferences I decided it was a valuable community to be part of and one that I felt I could help build.

Question #4: What does BIG mean to you?

Thinking back over my time with BIG, what I am most grateful for is the sense of community it provides and more specifically all the people it has allowed me to meet. The committee itself has given me the opportunity to work with and learn from many highly intelligent, funny and hugely generous researchers (and non-researchers). BIG’s many social events have also allowed me to meet a whole range of people working in the research industry, including some of my best clients and friends.

Question #5: With so much change in the B2B research industry how do you think researchers should prepare for the future?

As a group we are going to need to be increasingly inventive in order to encourage any participation from an overworked and over researched B2B audience. Over time we have been making use of a greater range of research techniques with our B2B projects – online communities, skype interviews, cati to web. For me it’s about being as flexible as possible and embracing new technology. We can no longer just design a rigid CATI approach for an SME project and expect it to work in the same way it used to.

Question #6: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the B2B Research Industry?

Simply to go for it. B2B research is undoubtedly challenging but the work is interesting, varied and ever-evolving. The rewards are extraordinary.

Mike Joseph

Company:
Independent Consultant

Role on the BIG Committee:
Chair of BIG Forum

Specialty Area:
Currently specialising in executive depth interviewing and desk research, with particular experience in business & professional services, construction, utilities, and manufacturing.

Question #1: Tell us a bit about your background

Over 40 years’ experience in market research, mostly in specialist B2B agencies or divisions, including INDAL Business Research, IMR, TNS Business Services and ORC International. Freelance since 2009.

Question #2: Why did you choose the B2B research industry?

It chose me, rather than the other way round. My first job out of university happened to be at INDAL (now absorbed into GfK) and I was inspired by two brilliant mentors in Tony Dent and Phyllis Macfarlane, who made huge contributions to the early development of B2B research, and I became attracted to the fact that B2B research deals with strategic business issues.

Question #3: What motivated you to join BIG?

I was associated with IMRA, BIG’s predecessor, and have always felt that B2B research is a distinct speciality, and that it’s important to have a forum dedicated to the speciality.

Question #4: What does BIG mean to you?

An opportunity to keep in touch with current thinking, get new ideas, and make contact with other B2B researchers – particularly important now that I am working as a freelance.

Question #5: With so much change in the B2B research industry how do you think researchers should prepare for the future?

Join BIG! Make time to keep abreast of new developments, talk to other researchers, read widely and be prepared to learn new skills, going beyond the ‘traditional’ skills of questionnaire design and data analysis.

Question #6: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the B2B Research Industry?

Remember that B2B research is not just about research skills, it’s about having an understanding of how business works. Take an active interest in business news and business issues.

Trevor Wilkinson

Company:
Purple Market Research

Role on the BIG Committee:
Treasurer

Specialty Area:
B2B research, particularly desk research

Question #1: Tell us a bit about your background

Formerly a teacher, my research career goes back a long way, having started back in the last century working on the early people meters for TV viewing figures, branching out while working in New Zealand and specialising in B2B research for the last 20+ years, in the form of Purple Market Research, started with Stephen Bairfelt.

Question #2: Why did you choose the B2B research industry?

At school and university I was always a jack of all trades (my A-Levels were English, Maths and German, a fairly odd combination) and research definitely suits all rounders.  Seemed a good fit back then.

Question #3: What motivated you to join BIG?

I was told to join by an old boss and I enjoyed the forum meetings and conferences enough to joint the committee and eventually become the Chairman (since given up to become Treasurer).

Question #4: What does BIG mean to you?

An opportunity to meet with, share experiences with and gain mutual support from like-minded people.

Question #5: With so much change in the B2B research industry how do you think researchers should prepare for the future?

Keep and open mind, embrace new techniques where they are useful but continue using whichever tools are right for the job, whether they are new or old.

Question #6: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the B2B Research Industry?

Join BIG.

Amy Middleton

Company:
BEAM Fieldwork

Role on the BIG Committee:
Regional Forum Organiser

Specialty Area:
Fieldwork

Question #1: Tell us a bit about your background

Since completing my degree in marketing nearly 15 years ago and starting my career in research, I guess you could say I’ve done it all. I’ve been a Venue Host, a Recruiter, a Fieldwork Manager, a Senior Fieldwork Manager and a Fieldwork Director. I’ve personally managed close to 1,000 qual and quant research projects with budgets from £500 to £350,000.

Before setting up BEAM Fieldwork, I worked at Director level in one of the UK’s biggest fieldwork agencies and even dipped my toe into moderating. I’ve been a prominent member of the BIG Committee, the ICG and a full member of the MRS and AQR.

I set up BEAM as I missed being on the front line of fieldwork, particularly working with smaller, independent companies. My early days in fieldwork were the most enjoyable. I’d work long hours as part of a small team on projects all over the UK. The projects were fun and interesting and the work was fast paced and varied. Thats what I wanted to get back to.

Question #2: Why did you choose the B2B research industry?
I work in all industry sectors but enjoy a challenge – B2B research recruitment comes with a whole host of challenges and is very varied.
Question #3: What motivated you to join BIG?

I decided to get involved with BIG after attending a couple of their forums, having worked on various B2B projects I wanted to learn more about B2B Research. The BIG Forum topics are geared to the B2B audience and attended by clients, agencies and suppliers. The forums initially ran in London, my role on the committee is to arrange regional forums, so we can share B2B knowledge across the country. We have conducted forums in Manchester and Bristol, with Leeds, Edinburgh and Nottingham in the pipeline.

Question #4: What does BIG mean to you?

BIG is all about learning together and feeding off each others experiences. It offers a community and platform to share ideas and meet likeminded B2B Research professionals.

Question #5: With so much change in the B2B research industry how do you think researchers should prepare for the future?

Keep up with the latest trends, terminology and methods – read industry news, attend conferences and forums of interest and relevance to B2B Research.

Question #6: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the B2B Research Industry?

Get involved in industry events, get out there and network – talk to others in similar roles and companies – learn from their advice and experiences.

Emily Dickinson

Company:
Opinium

Role on the BIG Committee:
Committee Member

Specialty Area:
Engagement and innovation 

Question #1: Tell us a bit about your background

I joined Opinium, a brilliant independent insight consultancy, in 2018 after working for Kantar Millward Brown’s Corporate and Healthcare practices where I led innovation, development and marketing.

As a former editor and journalist, I specialise in engaging diverse audience types – from Key Opinion Formers to consumers on behalf of both private and public-sector clients to help shape their communication strategies, evaluate market trends and increase the strategic responsiveness of their organisations.  I also sit on the advisory board for Loughborough University’s Online Civic Culture Centre for Doctoral Training which is studying the impact of social media on the spread of misinformation, disinformation and the rise of hate speech and incivility.

Question #2: Why did you choose the B2B research industry?

If I’m honest I didn’t! After finishing my PhD in American Literature, I needed job and like most researchers I’ve met seemed to fall into the industry where I ended up specialising in B2B and loved the challenges, diversity and opportunities of the industry.  There’s a lot of talk about how B2B is playing catch-up to B2C, that it has smaller budgets, is less exciting, but I’ve found that there’s also a lot more freedom to do something different, to challenge and to make a tangible impact than there can be in B2C research. 

Question #3: What motivated you to join BIG?

Josh and I were lucky enough to win the MRS B2B Award last year and I was subsequently invited to join the BIG board.

Question #4: What does BIG mean to you?

An opportunity to meet with, share experiences with and gain mutual support from like-minded people.

Question #5: With so much change in the B2B research industry how do you think researchers should prepare for the future?

Keep and open mind, embrace new techniques where they are useful but continue using whichever tools are right for the job, whether they are new or old.

Question #6: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the B2B Research Industry?

I think have confidence in who you are, have confidence in the skills and the experiences you create outside of work to elevate what you do. I learnt more about project and people management setting up a pop-up pudding bar in Soho and more about team work rowing 6 days a week than I ever have behind a desk.

Damon Thomas

Company:
Hasson Associates

Role on the BIG Committee:
Events

Specialty Area:
Wine

Question #1: Tell us a bit about your background

A recruiter for the Insight, Research and Analysis sector since 2001, coupled with six years marketing financial services experience and an MA in Marketing.

Question #2: Why did you choose the B2B research industry?

I didn’t it chose me.

Question #3: What motivated you to join BIG?

To engage with the industry in which I recruit.

Question #4: What does BIG mean to you?

A place for like-minded individuals to engage and learn.

Question #5: With so much change in the B2B research industry how do you think researchers should prepare for the future?

The landscape is forever changing, and all researchers should be prepared to adapt and adopt and not be afraid to use new methodologies and technology to answer the business question in a strategic way. Be prepared to learn…always.

Question #6: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the B2B Research Industry?

Enjoy the bigger picture of b2b research and it might be more exciting than you think…

Claire Labrum

Company:
Strictly Financial Ltd

Role on the BIG Committee:
Ezine

Specialty Area:
Financial services

Question #1: Tell us a bit about your background

Like most people I ‘fell’ into research by mistake. I was working client side as a marketer for an insurance company when I had to commission a research project. Whilst it was a bit of a baptism by fire, I loved the insights gained and the fact that users (be they advisers, stakeholders or policyholders) were being consulted on the issues.

Question #2: Why did you choose the B2B research industry?

Really it choose me. I was working in the finance sector, and a lot of the work is naturally among B2B audiences. Also, even when speaking to consumers, the ‘feel’ of the work is closer to B2B than FMCG – so it seemed a natural fit.

Question #3: What motivated you to join BIG?

When I first moved agency side, I knew a lot about insurance/ finance but relatively little about research. Joining a specialised organisation which ran focused events, held seminars and supported younger B2B researchers was a no brainer. In latter years, I have continued to be a member as I feel I can give something back. I also continue to believe that B2B is a specialism that deserves its own voice in the industry.

Question #4: What does BIG mean to you?

Expertise, support and education.

Question #5: With so much change in the B2B research industry how do you think researchers should prepare for the future?

Be flexible, adapt to new challenges and be prepared to take the best bits and use them shamelessly.

Question #6: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the B2B Research Industry?

Whilst B2B brands may not be as ‘sexy’ as some consumer brands, the subject matter is often more interesting and challenging. Learn about businesses and how they work generally – being able to place the respondent, the client and the insights in context is crucial.

John Temple

Company:
RP Translate Ltd

Role on the BIG Committee:
Member

Specialty Area:
Language Services for B2B Research

Question #1: Tell us a bit about your background

Left school at 16 and trained as an Accountant (ACCA). Started my first business in 1996, and joined RP Translate in 2001 and have been involved supporting the Research Industry ever since.

Question #2: Why did you choose the B2B research industry?

I love the diversity and range of topics. One minute we could be dealing with a survey on Wind Power Services, the next Digital IT security. Not always sexy – but fascinating!

Question #3: What motivated you to join BIG?

The opportunity to learn from Industry peers and to share my personal experiences of running a business for over 20 years.

Question #4: What does BIG mean to you?

BIG is a great resource exclusively for B2B market researchers with a laser sharp focus on the needs of B2B market researchers / market research companies where you can share, learn and grow.

Question #5: With so much change in the B2B research industry how do you think researchers should prepare for the future?

Really get under the skin of the client. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of their needs and pain points, offering bespoke solutions to answer their business questions.

Question #6: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the B2B Research Industry?

Join external networking groups for learning and sharing. There is so much experience out there and people are delighted to support and mentor.

Alexander Wheatley

Company:
Kantar

Role on the BIG Committee:
Company Secretary

Specialty Area:
Digital Research & Innovation

Question #1: Tell us a bit about your background

I have worked within Kantar for over 5 years. Currently I manage a Digital team tasked with growing Kantar’s non-survey offer and new capabilities. Before that I worked for Lightspeed conducting research on research and consultation for clients around survey methodologies, looking for innovations to advance the rigour of survey methodologies.

Question #2: Why did you choose the B2B research industry?

I didn’t! I think one of the things that makes research such a great industry to work in is the diversity of those that work in it, a diversity that often is a result of the fact that many people find jobs in research by chance rather than by planned out choice. I am one of these people. I saw a role in the sector, thought it sounded fascinating, and haven’t looked back.

Question #3: What motivated you to join BIG?

A desire to further the knowledge sharing and innovations of the sector.

Question #4: What does BIG mean to you?

A way of bringing together people and knowledge to further all our opportunities.

Question #5: With so much change in the B2B research industry how do you think researchers should prepare for the future?

By staying on top of the tools and methods available in and rapidly evolving world, and thinking how they can make the most of them to meet the needs of their clients.

Question #6: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the B2B Research Industry?

Be curious! We are a fantastic community of problem solvers and our curiosity keeps us progressing.

David Holmes

Company:
Kantar Insights

Role on the BIG Committee:
Events committee

Specialty Area:
Brand and communications

Question #1: Tell us a bit about your background

After gaining my degree from the University of Portsmouth, I joined the market research industry and worked my way through the ranks, ending up as Senior Client Manager at Kantar Millward Brown. I have a particular interest in brand and communications insights.

Question #2: Why did you choose the B2B research industry?

I’ve been moving between the public sector, consumer and business worlds throughout the past ten years, and the challenges in clients’ briefs – whether in terms of their objectives or methodologies – all interest me. I initially moved into B2B because an opportunity to learn something new presented itself, and I’m glad I took it.

Question #3: What motivated you to join BIG?

What motivated me was the chance to meet colleagues with similar roles in the same industry, and contribute towards the growth of the BIG organisation itself as there are ongoing discussions around continuous improvement. My role is to help clients with not so dissimilar objectives, so to actually be involved rather than be at arm’s length is interesting.

Question #4: What does BIG mean to you?

To me, BIG is a forum that brings people of complementary skills together to define excellence in business to business research.

Question #5: With so much change in the B2B research industry how do you think researchers should prepare for the future?

I would recommend to anyone that the best way to prepare for the future is to get closer to our clients, and really understand the pressures they face in their role. I would also emphasise the importance of networking and collaboration with colleagues who have different skills sets to you, as this makes meeting clients’ demands for insights to be ‘quicker, cheaper, better’ that much more possible.

Question #6: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the B2B Research Industry?

Maintain a ‘growth’ mindset and be observant of the world around us. It’s important to improve one’s own skills, whether in terms of research methodologies or traits such as communication and storytelling, though it’s equally important to recognise how attitudes and behaviours of wider society are constantly evolving.