Picking the winners - Part 1

7 February 2023

Perspectives from the Insight250 Judges

10 min read
10 min read

Over 30 market research experts have recently been selected as Judges for the 2023 Insight250 Awards, spotlighting leaders and innovators across market research, consumer insights, and data-driven marketing worldwide. These judges hail from 17 nations across six continents and represent academia, enterprises, agencies, and associations. Approximately 40 percent previously received the Insight250 award, and about 80 percent served as Judges last year. 

Mark Langsford, CEO of mTab, and Kristin Luck, ESOMAR President, will again chair the international judging panel. 

Given these judges' diverse experiences and insight, I spoke with several of them to get their thoughts and perspectives on a few different topics around Insight250. This feature includes ideas from several judges on the impact and traits they seek when selecting an Insight250 Winner. 

As a reminder, nominations remain open until February 14 and can be submitted at insight250.com/nominate

The Insight250 Awards highlight market research leaders and innovators from around the world. In your view, what are the key drivers of successful leadership and innovation? 

Nick Baker, Chief Research Officer, Savanta, UK

“True leaders empower and enable and ultimately create followers. Leadership and innovation come in many forms, but four key characteristics endure and are present in great leaders. They (1) solve problems effectively, (2) deliver real operating success, (3) embrace diversity in people and perspectives, and (4) Support colleagues with empathy and empowerment.

 Ultimately the proof is in the pudding as leaders build trust, innovate and inspire.”

Justine Clements, Consumer Insights Manager, Samsung, Australia

" The key drivers of successful leadership are having integrity and a strong vision which you can communicate." 

Tony Li, Head of Market Research, SE Asia Hub, Philip Morris International, Hong Kong

“Tell me something I won’t forget – great insights should be simple, direct, data-driven, and in the end, help to solve the business question.” 

Andrea Rademeyer, CEO, Ask Afrika, South Africa

“Innovation leadership takes our industry into unknown territory instead of tweaking current methodologies. So much of the current digitisation is just about efficiencies- which often commoditise insights over time. We must be confident to look beyond our industry borders for beneficial innovation.” 

Diego Casaravilla, CEO, Fine Research Latin America,Argentina

“There are tons of writings on these topics, so it is hard to be original. But thinking specifically about our business, I believe the secret recipe for success relies on the apparent paradox of combining a stubborn passion for your goals with a flexible, insight-driven open mind.”

Tony Costella, Global Consumer & Market Insights Director, Heineken, Netherlands

“The best leaders and innovators in Insight have a combination of 2 key attributes: Curiosity & Drive for Impact. The curiosity is behind the desire to always look for better ways of uncovering insight, challenging protocols, and thinking differently. The drive for impact turns the curiosity into something tangible, moving from dreams and ideas to real solutions that drive the business.”

 Wim Hamaekers, Founder, One Inch Whale, Belgium

“In a world where available data and insights are exponentially growing, I believe the key drivers for successful innovations and leadership are, on the one hand, a strong “digital thought process” thank reviews at data and insights holistically. But on the other hand, this should consider all available data as potential contributions to an ecosystem where machine learning and AI can predict and guide successful innovations for products, services, branding, communication, and user experiences. 

“On the other hand, humanizing data is an underestimated key driver. If you’re unable to move humans, whether it’s customers, staff, or other stakeholders, innovation often remains a dead letter or struggles to break through.  It’s about creating an impact on businesses and humans: filtering the vast amount of data and insights down to what is important and relevant for businesses and humans while turning data into a story internally and externally. Finally, when businesses focus on cost and the short term in times of recession, how can businesses give back to society, people, and the planet rather than being solely profit-driven? In the long-term, businesses that succeed in putting planet, society, and people before profit will be able to put themselves apart & add value for their clients, staff, humans & planet.” 

Sharmila Das, Chairwoman, Purple Audacity, India

“Steadfastness of conviction, an openness to accepting mistakes, and the humility to recognise and promote the talent of your co-workers are the key drivers of success. New skills can be learned, teams can be expanded, and business revenue can be increased, but none will be enough for success without conviction, openness, and humility.”

Laura Ruvalcaba, CEO, Brain, Mexico

“Actionable innovation must give new life to a project, brand, or service and be able to be applied easily. It also must be easy to understand while bringing a different perspective of the problem to be solved that the client has never thought about. Finally, it’s important to be bold with the methodology and support undertaken.”

Paul Baines, Professor & Deputy Dean, University of Leicester School of Business, UK

“Successful leadership and innovation mean standing out from the rest of the crowd. In the market research world, this means gathering, disseminating, and embedding better, quicker, or more cost-effective insight to client decision-makers to add value to their businesses.” 

Seyi Adeoye, CEO, Pierrine Consulting, Nigeria

“In a fast-changing and complex world like ours, a commitment to excellence, push for connectivity, and collaboration with relevant adjacent industries are critical. Values-based leadership with a balanced and informed view of trends and the ability to lead change are the key drivers of successful leadership and innovation.”

Mitali Chowhan, Director General, The Market Research Society of India, India

“Successful leaders need to be open to new ways of working and adapt to changing technologies and business opportunities.” 

As a Judge, what are some of the primary traits you consider most important for an Insight250 Winner? 

Nick Baker, Chief Research Officer, Savanta, UK

“We have such a wealth of talent in our industry that to become an Insight250 Winner, there is a need to stand out from the crowd, to have demonstrated something far beyond the ordinary. In looking at this, it starts with the impact of the work. Outcomes are key. What has been enabled, and how has it made a genuine impact?”

Justine Clements, Consumer Insights Manager, Samsung Australia

“I am looking for creativity and agility, generosity or a willingness to share what they've learned, and the ability to inspire others.” 

Tony Li, Head of Market Research, SE Asia Hub, Philip Morris International, Hong Kong

“In this new era, great insights may not be necessarily about new things, new technology, new methodology; it is all about new values.” 

Andrea Rademeyer, CEO, Ask Afrika, South Africa

“Traits of generosity and communication determine the leap from a great idea to a sustainable innovation.” 

Diego Casaravilla, CEO, Fine Research Latin America, Argentina

“There are many different criteria we can use, and any selection activity has some degree of arbitrary judgment and, for sure many human biases inevitably. Furthermore, deciding is not that easy since the achievement of a winner could be quite varied. For example, they might have invented a new method or business application, organized a research community effectively towards its common goals, or been that researcher whose advice is always asked.  So we need a simple compass, and to me, that compass is the answer to the question: has this professional earned the respect of our community? We are certainly not an indulgent or accommodating crew, so if you are respected in our community, you deserve to be a winner.” 

Ed Keller, CEO, Keller Advisory Group, US

“Our industry is undergoing rapid transformation.  As a judge, I am looking for people who are setting the agenda for tomorrow, whether through breakthrough ideas, innovative use of new technologies for better and deeper insight creation, new ways of organizing teams to embrace change, creation of seminal thought leadership, or challenging the status quo while still adhering to standards of excellence. Being an Insight 250 judge presents me with an exciting opportunity to learn about those people around the world who are leading our industry forward and how they are doing it. Good luck to all the nominees.”

Roland Abold, Infratest dimap, Germany

“Successful leaders in our profession need to have a broad and deep understanding of market developments, technological shifts, and innovation. But at the same time, the need to inspire their current (and potential future) team members, clients, partners, and even the broader public to shape the future of the insights industry.” 

 Wim Hamaekers, Founder, One Inch Whale, Belgium

“Be open-minded; embracing new technologies, not seeing them as a threat; able to separate the wheat from the chaff, assessing the relevancy of innovations for the industry; using research and technologies as a means to an end, not as the end goal; fail fast and learn fast mindset, instead of skepticism try new things out; last but not least being able to curate the huge amount of insights and data and make them stick. Finally, tell a story that makes sense and helps businesses to go (fast) forward.” 

Laura Ruvalcaba, CEO, Brain, Mexico

“First, creativity. They must bring new material or have a unique point of view. Second, be clear and specific in their thought leadership and execution. Third, make an impactful change to the industry. And fourth, be bold.”

Paul Baines, Professor & Deputy Dean, University of Leicester School of Business, UK

“Insight250 winners will show a track record of innovative, even trend-setting work in the market research field in their regions.” 

Seyi Adeoye, CEO, Pierrine Consulting, Nigeria

“The primary traits I consider important for an Insight250 winner are a passion for thought leadership, a strong sense of collaboration, deep appreciation for diversity, equity, and inclusion, a visible contributor to the MR industry, and a display of fearless leadership.”

Mitali Chowhan, Director General, The Market Research Society of India, India

“I focus on relevance, innovation, and a pattern of giving back to the industry.” 

Thank you again to all our judges, all of whom are leaders and innovators in their own right, both for taking their time to select this year’s winners and also for these tips and insights into their thinking.

Do get your nominations in now at insight250.com/nominate. Good luck everyone.

Crispin Beale
Senior Strategic Advisor at mTab, CEO at Insight250, Group President at Behaviorally