Genna Kik is a Director at IFF Research Ltd.
As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an optician in my teens, not sure when that changed!
When did you first turn towards a social research career?
During my second-year studying Economics and Geography at Sheffield University I did some research methods modules which I really enjoyed. I then chose to do a dissertation in my final year and used an Erasmus exchange to Finland to research differences in Finnish and British students views of European integration. This spurred me on to do a master’s in research methods.
What was your first professional job? And first project there?
After my MA I was a postgraduate researcher and teaching assistant in Sheffield, but I count my first professional job as a Research Officer in the Social Surveys Division at the Office for National Statistics, working on the English Housing Condition Survey.
Where did your career go next? What motivated that/those moves?
My move to ONS never became permanent, my husband stayed in Sheffield and I commuted between Wales and Sheffield, renting during the week. In 2008 I was promoted to Senior Research Officer, we’d finally decided to relocate to Wales when two Civil Service research jobs near Sheffield came up. Within a couple of months, I’d moved back and started as Research Manager at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES). I worked on labour market and skills studies, and evaluations that informed skills and education policy and practice, including two large-scale employer surveys – the UK Employer Perspectives Survey (18k employers) and UK Employer Skills Survey (90k employers), with the team at IFF as contractors. In 2016, UKCES closed and IFF were recruiting an Associate Director so I explored whether it would be feasible to take the post as a home-worker as the company is in London and I didn’t want to relocate my daughters. I now work four days per week, traveling to London 1-2 days per week and the rest from home in Sheffield - I love it. I work on a wide range of quant and qual projects as part of the IFF team I’d enjoyed working with for many years while at UKCES, and I have clients and project partners from my network of ex-colleagues and academics.
What has been your best professional moment?
I’ve been fortunate to have some great professional moments over the years, I’ve travelled and spoken at research conferences in Prague, Warsaw, Milan, Zaragoza, and Madrid, and last year visited the Middle East for a project. One of my best moments in the last couple of years was when we won the contract for the ONS Annual Survey of Goods and Services, a statutory survey of 40k businesses involving a complex online survey and inbound call centre, it has been a great team effort to win and deliver.
Finding out UKCES was losing funding and I was losing my job was my worst professional moment. I was on maternity leave and it was very stressful facing a job hunt after a year out… it all worked out for the better though!
Do you have a social research hero/heroine?
I’ve worked with some fantastic researchers – past and present. If I had to pick one though it would be Professor Mike Campbell, who sadly passed away a couple of years ago. Mike was Director of Research when I joined UKCES, more of an economist really, he was hugely inspirational – passionate about skills and labour market research, an excellent speaker and teacher, and a lovely guy.
Do you have a favourite quote?
I don’t have a favourite, but I do quite like this one…
“Lighten up, just enjoy life, smile more, laugh more, and don’t get so worked up about things” Sir Kenneth Branagh
What would you say to encourage a young person today considering a social research career?
It’s a fascinating career, you’re always learning something new and you can get a lot of variety if you want it. For those outside of London, finding opportunities can sometimes be tricky, however it is possible to carve out a career outside of the capital…especially if you’re prepared to get creative with your commute!