Suzanne Pritchard is one of three directors who own and manage Strategic Research and Insight, a Cardiff-based independent research and evaluation agency.

As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
I had no clue what I wanted to be growing up, but whatever I was thinking, it didn’t involve being a researcher!  It’s not that surprising I’ve ended up here though - many people I know have come into research by what seems to be happenstance.

When did you first turn towards a social research career?
The idea first occurred to me when I was doing an economic development Masters at Cardiff University. We covered such a wide range of research in different sectors that I realised there were so many directions I could take to work in this field. I was really interested in the different areas of work and how they interlink. The idea of doing a job that could help support positive change has always been something I find both motivating and rewarding.

What was your first professional job?  And first project there?
After my Masters I worked for the Welsh Development Agency on a project which supported the garment and textiles sector.  This was great for me as I’d just done my dissertation comparing the economic support networks for the sector in Wales and Italy. My first project was to carry out desk research to identify businesses in the area which was then used to provide support through the programme.

Where did your career go next?  What motivated that/those moves?
After that, I went to Strategic Marketing as a researcher. The company had a number of divisions, including research but also ran events and marketing projects at that time. I worked mainly on quantitative B2B surveys and skills surveys in this role initially, but the company has evolved dramatically since then. I’ve been at Strategic since then and it’s been very exciting to be involved in the development of the company. In 2011, we undertook a management buyout taking us in a new direction which lead to our rebrand as Strategic Research and Insight in 2016. I’ve enjoyed having the chance to steer the company along with my co-directors.  We do such a variety of work for a wide range of clients throughout the UK and Ireland; I still love the variety this work brings and the chance to work in partnership with our clients.

What has been your best professional moment?
There’s no single moment which I would say is the best, I still get a buzz when clients take the work we’ve done and really use it to take their projects, programmes or organisations to the next stage.

...and worst?
Undertaking a management buyout during the recession in 2011 was challenging to say the least.  They were very tough times on many levels and we had to make some very difficult decisions, but we found our way through. I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved as a team since then. 2018 has been a great year for us and we’ve just expanded our team so we’re really excited about what the future will bring.

Do you have a social research hero/heroine?
Not really. I take inspiration from the speakers I hear at events and conferences. There are always some real nuggets that give you a new way of thinking about things.

Do you have a favourite quote?
I like ‘Research is creating new knowledge’ by Neil Armstrong, US Astronaut. It’s simple but says something about the power that research has to inform and equip.

What would you say to encourage a young person today considering a social research career?
Be curious, be respectful of your participants and really take time to understand what your client really needs - which may not always be what they think at first!

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