Women in Research: Urpi Torrado

8 March

Like many professionals in this industry, I arrived here by accident rather than design.

Like many professionals in this industry, I arrived here by accident rather than design. Both of my parents are Researchers (my father is a Sociologist, and my mother is an Anthropologist), so I grew up surrounded by focus groups and questionnaires. After finishing school, I wanted to find my own path, not wanting to be known as ‘the daughter of’.

When looking for alternatives on what to study, I knew that a career where I could work on different topics and be free to create and work on my own timing was going to be a key motivator. I began with translation and finished with business. While studying, I started working as an Interviewer (doing face-to-face interviews) to earn money but also to help in the family business. It was not at university but in the field where I discovered my real passion: human understanding.

My days as an Interviewer provided both an education and new responsibilities. I took on a range of tasks; checking questionnaires, training other Interviewers, preparing and designing samples, amongst many more. In one way or the other, I went through all the different areas of the company.

Although working with my father was great, I didn´t want to work under his shadow, so I decided to open a new division within the company. This new division was responsible for international projects, looking for companies that wanted to do research in Peru but also doing research in other countries for companies that wanted us to conduct their projects. This division grew, and at one point, it accounted for over 70% of the company’s revenue. At this time, my father was diagnosed with ELA, which limited his work and the energy he could give to the company, so we redesigned the company and the services we offered. The international division was no longer a division but a core part of the offering we had for all of our clients. 

My international approach gave me access to new methodologies, tools and knowledge. I decided that I had to bring all that to Peru. And I did it in many ways, offering them to clients, teaching at different universities, writing articles, participating in conferences and being active in different associations.

My passion for innovation was the driving force behind the permanent transformation of Datum, but it also motivated me to take an active role in the industry. I have been four times president of the Peruvian Association of Market Research. Today, I am part of different Boards and occupy important roles within different associations, including the role of Latam Ambassador for our global professional association, ESOMAR. In this new role, I am responsible for defining the strategy for the region, coordinating and giving support to our region’s Representatives and engaging with the industry’s adjacent associations to boost ESOMAR awareness and presence in Latam. It is no easy task, but it is a challenge that I am thoroughly enjoying.

After more than 3 decades in the insights industry, there are many projects I am very proud of. I couldn’t avoid mentioning our book (Familias Peruanas. Más familias de lo que imaginas), which we published in 2020 and became a best seller in FIL (International Book Fair in Peru). We integrated official data with ethnographies, interviews and pictures, visualising the different types of families beyond the stereotype of the traditional family. This book inspired brands like Inca Kola (a local soft drink owned by Coca-Cola) to redesign their communication by including different types of families. 

Another big source of pride for me has been the accomplishments of two young Peruvian Researchers who won the Global Research Got Talent Competition. As winners, they had the opportunity to travel to India to share their experiences and the results of their research. While these girls were not part of my Datum team, it was very gratifying to have this opportunity for us to connect Peru with the international community and open new paths for others to grow.

So, although I arrived here by accident, I stayed because I fell in love with our profession, the work that we do and the constant learning experiences it offers us. We don't know with certainty where our industry is heading, but I can see that business insights are now more prominent and in demand than ever before. Together with my team, we are experimenting with different AI tools, opening endless possibilities to our activities where human capabilities are even more empowered.

Urpi Torrado
CEO at Datum International