SRA Interviews


My Career by Dan Clay

Dan Clay is Managing Partner of Basis Social and also a Trustee of the SRA

His advice to anyone considering a career in social research is: "Your country needs you! This is a unique profession that is both personally and socially rewarding. And get in touch - developing your networks and building relationships is something you should do from the very start."

My Career by Rosie McLeod

Rosie McLeod heads up the Data & Learning team at New Philanthropy Capital, the think tank and consultancy for the charity sector. She is also an SRA Trustee.

Her advice to anyone considering a career in social research is: "Do it! You’ll soon acquire useful transferable skills that open up loads of doors, so in theory you could move into many other areas…but you’ll never want to, because you’ll be hooked."

My Career by David Parsons

Professor David Parsons is a Principal Consultant at P&A Research and Consulting, Visiting Professor at Leeds Beckett University and course leader on SRAs evaluation programme.

His advice to anyone considering a career in social research is: "Go for it, but remember evidence cannot speak for itself; a successful career as a researcher is going to be more and more about not only shaping, collecting and analysing evidence but providing it with a clear voice."

My Career by Rachel Hughes

Dr Rachel Hughes is Director of Dotiau (pronounced: dot-ee-ay. It means ‘dots’ in Welsh) and Visiting Professor at Glyndwr University

Her advice to anyone considering a career in social research is: "If you care about people and places, and the issues that matter to them. If you want to be involved in things that are inherently interdisciplinary, always interesting, always challenging. If you like being involved in things that encourage different ways of seeing, thinking and doing. If you want to be able explore topics in depth. If you want to inform policy and practice. If you want to make a positive difference to people’s lives. Well then social research is for you!"

My Career by Daniel Stunell

Daniel Stunell is Programme Manager for Research and Evaluation at Zero Waste Scotland, a not-for-profit environmental organisation, funded by the Scottish Government and European Regional Development Fund.

His advice to anyone considering a career in social research is: "Our rapidly changing world will not be short of questions to answer. It might be tempting to see the climate crisis as a science and engineering problem, but all the ecological understanding and technical fixes in the world can’t help us if we don’t also choose to apply that knowledge, and that’s a social science problem. We absolutely need the insights and understanding social research can provide to let us transition to a greener future effectively and fairly. But I also think interdisciplinary literacy will be more important than ever to being effective social researchers, so take every opportunity to step outside your home discipline, whatever you consider it to be."

My Career by Oonagh Robison

Oonagh Robison is a Senior Research Officer at the Scottish Government, having previously work in both the commercial and academic sectors.

Her advice to anyone considering a career in social research is: 'It’s a really varied and rewarding career path, and the skills you develop can be applied in so many settings. It also allows you to work on a real range of projects, often in the same role - you can go from time working quietly by yourself on a piece of data analysis, to facilitating a focus group through an interpreter in the same week. It’s rarely boring!'

My Career by Andrew Phelps

Andrew Phelps is a principal research officer at ONS and is commissioning editor of the quarterly SRA magazine ‘Research Matters’.

His advice to anyone considering a career in social research is to spend some time learning about the breadth of the industry in order to help decide where you might want to work.

My Career by Georgina Culliford

Georgina Culliford is a Senior Research Executive at Qa Research and a member of the SRA North committee.

Her advice to a young person considering a career in social research is: 'Talk to people in the sector! There are so many different ways to be a social researcher that you might not have heard of. As a student, I thought my options were academia or civil service; while these are huge parts of the industry, there’s so much more to it!'

My Career by Dale Hall

Dale Hall is founder and chair of Opinion Research Services (ORS).

His advice to a young person considering a career in social research is: ‘Research can be urgent, important and problematic, so it is not an easy way to earn a living; but the answers can be rewarding – if you like research. Be prepared to take responsibility: ask the big questions, give the best answers you have, even when they are unwelcome to clients, and think about outcomes of social policies, not just processes and outputs’.

My Career by Jenni Brooks

Dr. Jenni Brooks is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Sheffield Hallam University, and Co-chair of SRA North.

Her advice to anyone setting out in social research is to pay attention: ‘There is always something to learn from the people you work with (even if it's just how not to be like them). Try job shadowing to get a feel for what different research roles are like. Take part in research yourself to see what it's like on the other side of the fence. Ask people about how they got where they are - you can never predict where your career will go’.

My Career by Cheryl Lloyd

Cheryl Lloyd is Programme Head at the Nuffield Foundation, where she leads the research portfolio relating to young people, focusing on educational disadvantage, teaching quality, young people’s pathways and skills.

Cheryl’s favourite quote is: ’What problem are we trying to solve? How do we know it is a real problem? How will we know when we’ve fixed it?’

My Career by Alun Humphrey

Alun Humphrey is Director of Household Surveys at NatCen Social Research having previously worked in commercial market research.

His advice to anyone considering a social research career is to spend some time early on working at a research agency, as this will provide hands-on experience of the practicalities of undertaking research, including the actual data collection process.

My Career by Martina Vojtkova

Martina Vojtkova is director of evaluation at NatCen and a trustee on the SRA Board. In this interview she explains what motivated her various career moves, including her involvement in supporting international research teams in the production of high quality systematic reviews of development interventions.

My Career by Kevin Pickering

Kevin Pickering is head of statistics, public affairs, Ipsos MORI. In this interview he talks about his career journey.  Reflecting on his advice to anyone considering a social research career, Kevin considers himself very lucky:

‘The work is intellectually fulfilling and is often fun. If you seize the opportunities, you will learn a lot, and continue to learn throughout your career. Also, it really is true that most of the people who work in social research are lovely’.