Amy: As the incoming Chairman of MRA’s Board of Directors, how are you feeling about the next 12 months — the 2013-2014 Board year?

Jill: This next year will be incredible. The volunteer leaders and staff of MRA have done the heavy lifting over the years to get us where we are today. MRA has never been stronger and is positioned to advance the research profession and everyone in it.

The 2013-2014 Board will continue that trajectory, focusing on the programs and services MRA’s members need to succeed in every facet of marketing research today.

Amy: Tell us a bit about your background as a volunteer for MRA. What sparked your interest in becoming so involved? What about MRA made it an attractive association to which to donate so much of your time and effort?

Jill: My first boss, Jim Porchey, was a big supporter of MRA. He encouraged me to become involved with the Association and I did! My first volunteer role was introducing speakers at the San Antonio conference, and from there I became a member of what is now the Education Committee.

The more you volunteer, the more wonderful people you meet who are equally as passionate about the industry and the Association. I have developed several close friendships through my involvement and couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this group. MRA is important to me because it is inclusive of all areas of marketing research.

Amy: You’re the fouth Chairman of MRA’s Board of Directors who also is a corporate researcher, and one of the first corporate researchers to really dig their heels in and support the Association in such a meaningful way. Can you share your views about the central role that corporate researchers are increasingly playing in the future of MRA?

Jill: It amazes me that I will be one of the few corporate researchers in this role in the Association’s 56 year history! This fact shows the importance of corporate researchers to MRA and the ability to grow this segment of the industry. Corporate researchers spend their days on a research island. We only know what our suppliers share and we typically do not have our own network to share ideas and benchmark. MRA heard that feedback and created several ways to encourage those conversations - the corporate researcher online forum for a great day-to-day resource and the Corporate Researchers Conference (CRC). We are always stronger as a group and the more we talk and collaborate with each other the better off the industry and everyone in it.

Amy: The lines that once existed in so many areas of MR seem to be blurring in recent years, and I imagine will do so at a more rapid pace than in the past. How important is the relationship between corporate researchers (buyers) and researcher providers (sellers)?

Jill: I cannot over-emphasis the importance of this relationship. Neither of us can be successful without the other. It is so important to remember this is not us vs. them. We all play a critical role in challenging what we do today, and how we innovate and get closer to the consumer in ways we have never been able to before. Because the silos of MR are starting to crumble, it allows us to be better, smarter and more insightful every day.

Amy: What do you believe are the most important shared interests among the buyers and sellers of research?

There are just so many… the responsibility we have to the respondent is paramount. Without engaged, thoughtful respondents we all pay the price of quality, insight and actionability. Challenging the status quo and experimenting with what we do can play such an impactful role on both our research and the trust we have with each other.

Collaboration is such an important part of my own relationships, both personally and in business, that I can’t imagine achieving true success without that playing a key role.

Amy: What do you consider the biggest threat to the industry?

Jill: I don’t think there is one big threat to our industry. I think there are several smaller, but potentially impactful areas we need to keep our eye on. Legislation will always be an area where we need to be vigilant. MRA does a fantastic job of keeping their eye on that ball to ensure that we can continue to do what we do.

We can also be our own biggest threat. If we continue to turn a blind eye or dismiss new technologies/methodologies when they first are introduced, we are going to be left out of the conversation. I know corporate researchers are always looking for the next big thing that will make their jobs easier/better/smarter and if they can’t find it within MR, then they will look for it outside our industry. That’s why MRA’s inclusive culture is such a great fit to my own personal mindset. We want to do our work responsibly and ethically, but why not try new things?

Visibility to what we do is another potential threat. This is true for the corporate researcher wanting a seat with the C-Level, and research suppliers who want visibility and recognition for the amazing work they are doing from their clients. As an industry and an association, we need to be proud of the work we do and what we represent. At the end of the day, we are the voice of the consumer and no one can speak for them better than we can. It is not only our job, but our privilege to represent them in all facets of business and product development. We should be proud of that and shout it from the rooftops!

Amy: Can you speak to some of the bigger initiatives you expect the Board to be addressing in the coming year? What are you most excited about?

Jill: It always seems as we kick off another year that there is so much to do! I really feel like this year is going to be amazing. We have spent a lot of time developing an updated mission, value and purpose for MRA. We are also working on our long-term strategic planning. With those pieces in place, this is really the year of execute, execute, execute. Members should continue to see great strides being made with our conferences as well as our webinars and online education tools. We will continue to reach out to other research associations/organizations to make sure we are offering our members the most robust products and services available. It is a really exciting time to be a part of MRA!

Amy: Thank you so much for all of your efforts on the profession’s behalf.