Finding success in unexpected places

Last week I attended Celebrating Women in the Research Industry, an evening co-hosted by ESOMAR and Women in Research (WiRe), organised by Patricia Dominguez (Inciter and UK ESOMAR Representative). The main event featured personal tales from four industry powerhouses: Jane Frost (CEO, MRS), Begoña Fafian (Knowledge and Insights Director, Coca Cola), Monique Drummond (Founder, Relish), and Pamela Walker (Global Head of Health, Kin and Carta Advisory).

The 80 or so attendees listened intently as each woman detailed her individual journey with refreshing honesty. By the end of the evening, my definition of success had been completely reframed.

Hard and fast parameters simply don’t work

We assume that people in powerful positions manoeuvre from A to Z in an organised, sequential manner. Those illusions were shattered throughout the evening as an alternative thought emerged: embracing serendipity, and life’s challenges, is key to success.

Each of the speakers had been thrown off course at some stage. From tackling mental health challenges; to welcoming unexpected surprises in the form of love and children; to traversing industries – and oceans – to find her calling.

“Life is all about how well you handle Plan B” – Monique Drummond


Adopt a growth mindset

The pressure we put ourselves under often outweighs the external pressures we face. Perhaps we still feel we’re earning our right, as women, to be in those authoritative roles; that we still have a point to prove.

Pamela champions adopting a growth mindset. Shifting the focus from failure, to a set of learning experiences to develop from, helps her juggle the intensity of motherhood, studies, and fulltime work. She recently graduated with an Executive MBA; completed alongside her global role at Kin and Carta.

“With all of those nuances and experiences we move forward, deepening and enriching ourselves with each step” – Pamela Walker


Break down barriers, now

A study conducted last year by MRS and Lightspeed found that of the 58% of women employed full-time in the research industry, only 38% reached senior management – compared to 50% of men. Further, only 10% of those employed identified as Black, Asian, and Minority ethnic (BAME).

Evidently there is still much work to be done. Jane affirmed that there should be no barriers to getting people into our sector; a pledge she has signed in accordance with MRS’s Manifesto for Opportunity. She’s in the process of gathering CEOs from across the sector to unite with her in this commitment towards creating safer and more representative workplaces.

 “Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much” – Helen Keller