This is an election statement by Niels Schillewaert, candidate for ESOMAR President 2017-2018.
First of all, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read this article. It shows you are interested in voting and that is a good thing! As with every democratic process, voting is important as it is your way to choose who you want to represent you in the Council.
I have to be honest and add that ESOMAR elections have not necessarily always carried the most interest and turnout, but I am hoping it will be different this time. The more people vote, the broader and more representative the support is for any elected body of an organization – which can only be a good thing. So your vote counts!
You are part of an important association which does many good things for our profession – which is so much more than throwing a few conferences and you attending them every (other) year!
ESOMAR ensures our work is done in line with ethical and privacy standards, a topic undergoing a lot of change these days. With these many changes, laws and regulations become much stricter; well, ESOMAR helps ensuring we can still do our jobs. The newly revised Code, which will hopefully get a broad approval after it has been successfully supported by the Esomar members present at the AGM, is just an example of this.
ESOMAR also reaches out to the young and promotes the research profession. While we (hopefully) like what we do, many among us end up in market research by coincidence. With Gen Y entering the job market in full, we need to make sure we are an attractive alternative choice to advertising, management consulting and even finance.
ESOMAR assumes a global perspective, because yes, it is a flat world, but one with a very different topography, different cultures and different politics. It is important to pay attention to this variation, because I personally feel it is a source of creativity.
So please, stand your ground and vote (even if it is not for me, you did me a favor anyway ;-))! Elect the people you feel are best deemed for the job and have them work for you afterwards ;-).
Create end-client value
With over 5,000 members worldwide, ESOMAR is the largest global association representing the consumer insights profession and industry. As any other association or event organizer (whatever they tell you), end clients and users of market insights are typically under-represented.
“Why is that?”, I often ask myself. It is for sure not the demand, as there are equally many (if not more) researchers on both client and agency/supplier sides. Maybe associations do not provide enough value? Maybe end clients mainly want to interact with other end clients, or have more control over it? Maybe the corporate world does not (want to) pay attention? In any case, it is an issue.
If I am elected as President, I will put the Council and ESOMAR staff’s focus on getting more end clients involved, in different ways and formats. Making it such an explicit emphasis would be new for ESOMAR and one which I believe has been lacking in the past. Clients are the lifeblood of any association, however we do not have enough of them and do not engage them well enough.
Get young people on board
In my personal and professional life, I have always been a firm believer in ’reverse mentoring‘ – learning from the younger people, the up and coming, around me. I have learned from my students, our new hires… I may not always have agreed with them or they may not have always been right, but they have always stimulated my thinking. In a sense of “why are they saying this?”. Long story short, having enthusiastic and smart people around us is vital. Without attracting new and great talent, there is no reason to continue.
But when I was teaching market research at the graduate programs of the Vlerick Business School, I would often ask students what job they were aspiring. “Advertising?” – The majority! “Big technology and consumer brands?” – Large appeal! “Management Consulting?” – Why not?! (tough job though!) “Sales job?” – Neyeah, maybe… really? “Research?” – Are you kidding me, I hate statistics!
We are competing fiercely with other industries for young people! Marketing research (I am wondering if we should still call it that?) is ill-positioned in (young) people’s minds. They do not want to go into research, but it is ok for them to be an analyst at Spotify or Google? They also want to work for the next edgy advertising agency and expect to be able to do so without consumer insights?
If you choose me as President, I will continue to put the Council and ESOMAR staff’s focus on the young people in our industry as well as attract them to choose for us. This would be a continued effort for ESOMAR, and one I have supported over the years as a Council member! I have been involved in and advocated the efforts, spearheading the “Win for Talent” initiative, reaching out to academia as well as the young already in our industry (e.g. ESOMAR’s Y.E.S. and Young Corporate Award). There is still a lot of work to do, but we are on the right track and I will support it in any which way I can.
I hope I get your vote for President of ESOMAR. Thanks!