We interview Swagata who works as a Technical Account Manager in Market Research. An Account Manager helps ensure the implementation and delivery of online surveys across various platforms. Swagata sits within the Corporate team and works with colleagues in Sales to advise clients on optimum research designs for their survey platforms.
Why is a Technical Account Manager important to the business?
My role was created as a result of my team’s success and the increase in demand for several of our digital products and other innovative tools. Our corporate clients generally need a bit more assistance that Market Research Agencies, in terms of advising on research design, and helping them maximise the sue of our tools to generate insight for their projects (which are often time-critical).
As a result of the dramatic increase in demand for assistance from Corporate Clients it was decided that the team would potentially benefit from having someone like me. They needed someone with a consultative market research background, to helps clients with the implementation of their surveys and delivery of data, as well as train them on our tools, as and when required.
How did you start your career in this sector?
I have an M.Sc. in Economics from University of Warwick which really honed my interest in analysing data, discovering crucial insight and answering different kinds of questions (usually socio-economic). When I was researching different careers at university, a career in the market research industry was almost a logical conclusion to my search.
Unfortunately, I graduated right in the middle of a recession. Nobody wanted to hire graduates, and being an international candidate with little UK experience was absolutely the wrong profile to have for a while. Nevertheless, I applied for any kind of job available; from clerical, administrative roles to Analyst positions in agencies. Finally, I got a break as a Christmas temp at M&S in London as well as a position at Phones4U. For a couple of months I worked both jobs until I accepted a permanent position with M&S until I managed to find an analyst position at a competitive intelligence consultancy.
What was the Account Manager interview process like?
I had a short initial telephone interview with my current boss, Director of Client Solutions and thereafter I was invited for a face to face meeting at the office.
The interview involved a skills assessment pertaining to my role. I was also asked to undertake a personal SWOT analysis, which I thought was a great idea. I was given the opportunity to speak about the things that I value about myself and things that I’d like to work on. I was then able to discuss my fit within the team and the wider organisation. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
What tips would you give someone who was interviewing in your company?
Show your ambition and willingness to learn and be creative. I work in an extremely innovative and ambitious company. We are constantly pioneering the development of new products and services to make our clients’ lives easier, whether they be agency clients or corporate ones.
Our team is truly diverse in terms of experience and skillset it encompasses. It is phenomenally successful. I put this down to two things – you’re able to work without being micro-managed in terms of meeting your sales targets, and yet the work culture is constructively cohesive. Everyone regularly shares stories of their successes and failures. Also, everyone works tremendously hard to deliver on their targets, so hard work is part of the company ethos.
If you are considering interviewing for a company like ours, you should evaluate yourself along these lines:
- Are you an ambitious individual and yet a team-player?
- Do you like thinking out of the box?
- What new and different things will you bring to the table?
Think about all the instances where you set yourself targets and not only achieved them, but exceeded them, and be prepared to come to the table with examples of the above. …
What do you do on a daily basis?
Everyday is different. Most of my work revolves around critiquing client questionnaires and implementing surveys for clients across our platforms, whilst making sure that it is structurally and logically sound. I also help our clients maximise the benefits they can reap from using our tools. Some days I could be training them, other days I could be running some DP tasks for them.
What aspects of your role do you enjoy the most?
I really enjoy working with corporate clients across different sectors. This means I’m able to draw on, and build on my experience of working with global companies across industries in the past.
What are the challenges faced in the role?
The biggest challenge which I’ve had to overcome has been wrapping my head around the many different products we offer fairly quickly. I started handling communications with our clients from day one, so it was literally baptism by fire! But I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.
Why do you think some people are more successful than others when they do your job?
If you enjoy what you do and enjoy working with your team you will be more successful.
When I’ve been in situations where I simply haven’t enjoyed my role or where I’ve not felt like I’ve made any real contribution to the success of my clients or organisations, my productivity has slipped. If you’re not satisfied doing what you do and don’t feel part of the team, it isn’t surprising that you won’t be able to give 100%.
What adjectives would you use to describe the type of person/ skills needed in your job?
Detail oriented, organised and methodical and a strong communicator, would be my top choices! Another important skill would be adaptability; – to be able to adapt quickly to changes in such a fast-paced environment.
What do you most value about your employer?
The work culture. I’ve worked in sales environments before, but what I really enjoy is a distinct lack of cut-throat competition. Everyone works hard to meet their own goals and they also have loads of fun together as well!
What is the highlight of your career to date?
My career highlight has to be working on the Nationwide Consumer Confidence Index – a project that I used to manage at TNS, now Kantar Consulting. It was discussed as one of the favourite economic indicators on BBC Newsnight.
Do you have any career regrets and if so what would they be?
I have no career regrets as such, but I do feel it would have been better to sit for the Advanced MRS Certificate exams to complete my certification for the training that I received . Taking a professional certification will alway add weight to your CV and give credibility to your profile . At least I completed the training, so am well-equipped with the knowledge of research best practices.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt in your career so far?
What I’ve found invaluable is the opportunity to work for, and with, global companies. It has really helped me learn a lot, within a relatively short period of time. When I worked for just UK based projects, I found the experience to be slightly more predictable. As a result I’ve come to realise that I enjoy global challenges and having diverse professional experiences.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into your sector?
Research the sector well – see if working with data and the process of gathering it excites you. Your research into the industry will also help you decide whether you want to join a consultative Market Research Agency or if you want to work directly in the Market Research department of a company.
- Have you researched your prospective employer(s) well before your interview? Who is interviewing you and examine their profile on LinkedIn.
- Be well prepared for interviews.
- Be prepared to quantify your competencies.
- Make sure you can show your organisation skills, your ability to work with data, your attention to detail and also your communication and presentation skills. You will almost certainly have an exercise based activity as part of the interview process which could come in the form of preparing a presentation. It will enable employers to understand your practical skills.
Finally, remember you will almost certainly have to put in extended hours occasionally, especially if you have to meet a tight project deadline. So it is worth bearing in mind that, whilst this sector is largely favourable to those seeking a good work-life balance, you have to be flexible.
Overall, it is a great sector to work in. There are so many interesting and talented people who work in the market research industry, so if you know that the MR sector is where you want to be, then start applying today!