Introducing, Susan Hoxie also known as a Partner at Hall & Partners. Hall & Partners is a global brand consulting agency specializing in brand engagement and communications research. By using a combination of quantitative and qualitative measures.
As someone like myself pursuing in the public relations job field, Hall and Partners is a Public Relations firm found and known worldwide. Having the opportunity to interview someone as successful as Susan Hoxie was fun and eye opening.
In the questions, I touched on; how she got to where she is today, a day in the life of a partner at hall and partners and interesting work her firm is currently working on. Along with those I asked her for any advice for someone new to the job field, and what a successful firm such as that one looks for in new-hires. I contacted her through e-mail and the responses below are her exact words.
Q: Where did you graduate from and what was your degree?
University of Puget Sound, Bachelor of Arts, majored in political science and economics
University of Washington, Masters Information Systems
Q: How did you get to the job you currently work at? / climb the corporate ladder
I had been working at Microsoft for 13 years and was considering my next move. Another sr. director I respected left Microsoft and went to work for what is now my current employer, a market research agency which services Microsoft called Hall & Partners. I had great respect for this director and when she recruited me I was excited to work under her leadership at Hall & Partners. Most people in the market research industry have experience on the client side (working for companies that use the research to make decisions) and experience on the agency side (working for companies that conduct and analyze the data and deliver to the clients.) I had never worked on the agency side and felt this would round out my career.
Q: Did you know you wanted to work in a Market Research agency?
I originally thought I would go into academia and pursue my PhD. Then I went to work for a software company as a paid intern while pursuing my Masters. I intended to work in their MIS department designing/maintaining databases and working on their first intranet. However, as a small company, they also had a need for someone to do analyst relations, competitive intelligence and market research. I found that I loved it since I was interested in understanding what motivates customers and how they make decisions, as well as competitive strategy. The company offered me a full-time position when I graduated.
Q: What’s a day in the life of a Market Research professional?
- I manage a team of 20 market research professionals at Hall & Partners in Seattle so my days involve reviewing the work of my team (their market research reports, study designs, analyses.) This team review, as well as people management takes around 40% of my time.
- About 30% of my time is spent on account management – meeting with our current clients and discussing their business issues and sharing insights from our research to help them solve their business problems. We spend a lot of time on storytelling to help our clients understand their customers and their competitors.
- The remaining 30% of my time is on new business development – discussing issues with clients and developing proposals for research to address their business challenges. The majority of my business development work is with clients we already have and want to grow, but I spend time trying to win business with new clients as well. No two days are the same however.
For example, today I’m in the airport in Boston. I spent the first half of the day in leadership training taught by Harvard Business School professors. I’m spending the time waiting for my flight responding to emails, and reviewing and managing my calendar. On the flight, I’ll take a break and listen to an Audible book on my phone.
It’s important to step away from the work and focus on things outside the business.
Q: What’s something your organizations been doing that you find interesting?
One really interesting project we are working on now is helping technology companies better understand how to recruit and retain a diverse workforce. We have conducted 40 focus groups around the US with Millennials, women, African Americans and Hispanics to understand their needs and wants in the workplace. We are currently scoping a second phase of this research where we will conduct similar research internationally (in places like the UK, Germany, India, etc.) This is what we call a qualitative project. But we also are doing lots of interesting quantitative projects. For example, we’re working with large airline clients on how consumer view their brand and how that is changing over time.
Q: As someone who wants to follow in your footsteps, what is a skill should I hone in on and perfect? / any advice for someone fresh out of college looking to be successful?
In terms of skill set, the industry is changing very fast. Having a curious mind is probably the most important thing in our profession
- being the type of person who wonders why people act the way they do and what’s driving them
- being the kind of person who likes to learn new things and isn’t afraid to just jump in and learn
- being the kind of person who uses all the resources at their disposal to educate themselves every day (reading, talking to people, even just doing a search on Google for anything you come across during the day that you don’t know.)
That said, the most important skill is being able to analyze information – whether that’s data or text – and being able to connect the dots. Being able to analyze lots of different points and integrate the story to provide insights is what we do every day.
When we hire someone for our entry level positions we are looking for:
- attention to detail
- great writing skills
- someone who asks questions
- people with positive energy and a can do attitude.
We expect our new hires to dig in on every aspect of the business. We are also looking for candidates who have taken market research courses in school and have a passion for marketing and communications.
Thank you Susan Hoxie for your insight and in depth answers that will be helpful to the readers that want to pursue a job at a successful firm such as Hall and Partners.