123 episodes

Welcome to the the Data Gurus Podcast!

The world around us is changing faster than ever before. From automation, artificial intelligence, big data, geo-location to every aspect of how we work and live. This includes DATA. Welcome to Data Gurus Podcast… our mission is to bring you a real life perspective on what’s happening in the data industry and how successful companies and individuals in this niche navigate through the sea of change. Encouraging you to Be Bold, Be Brave and Be Fearless – Let’s navigate the Data Ecosystem together.

Data Guru‪s‬ Sima Vasa

    • Investing

Welcome to the the Data Gurus Podcast!

The world around us is changing faster than ever before. From automation, artificial intelligence, big data, geo-location to every aspect of how we work and live. This includes DATA. Welcome to Data Gurus Podcast… our mission is to bring you a real life perspective on what’s happening in the data industry and how successful companies and individuals in this niche navigate through the sea of change. Encouraging you to Be Bold, Be Brave and Be Fearless – Let’s navigate the Data Ecosystem together.

    Qualitative Resilience –The Prediction | Ep. 123

    Qualitative Resilience –The Prediction | Ep. 123

    Sima Vasa is excited to have Bob Qureshi join her today. Bob is the co-owner and managing partner of i-view viewing facilities in London.

    Bob talks about the history of his business

    In the 1960s and 1970s, most of the qualitative research in the UK took place at the home of the recruiter. Over the years, specific facilities for research were being built in the US. Then, in the 80s, that also started to happen in the UK.

    A game-changer

    In 2010, Bob looked at the UK facilities and saw that they were all laid out like recruiter’s living rooms. They lacked things like white marker boards, places to put stimulus, and the ability to screen. So Bob decided to start with a game-changer and build everything they needed on one floor, in an easy to get to location in central London, with wide doors and access for people with special needs. They paid specific attention to detail, which means they made sure that they took account of everything.

    Bob’s background

    Bob’s background was in the corporate client-side, and he has always had an interest in qualitative research.

    Best Viewing Facility

    For the last three years in a row, i-view was awarded Best Viewing Facility in the UK. That is not an easy thing to do, and Bob feels very humbled by it.

    The impact of the pandemic

    The impact of the pandemic has been quite devastating for Bob.


    Bob realized that the key thing was to replace the word “competition” with the word “collaboration”. So he decided to talk to the other viewing facilities, to collectively agree on which message they would send, who they would send it to, and how they could drive it forward.

    Rates relief

    In stopping unnecessary costs in the UK, they managed to save the municipality rates relief of over a million pounds across all the viewing facilities. They managed to recover very quickly as a result.

    A similar standard

    Through the collaboration, all the viewing facilities in the UK are sending out the same message and adopting a similar standard to deal with the prevention and spread of the virus.


    What Bob and those with whom he is collaborating have to look at, in terms of when in-person will resume, are some of the key statistics and figures that are coming out. Essentially, they are looking for infection rates and death rates to fall and the vaccine levels to increase so that the most vulnerable in their society do not fall prey to the pandemic.

    When lockdown will finish

    Bob believes that in the UK, they will not get any indication of when they can open up again until the end of February. He assumes that lockdown will finish in March- possibly mid-March to late March or early April at the latest.

    Attitudes are changing

    People’s attitudes are changing because they feel restricted. So they are no longer as cautious as they were at the beginning of the pandemic.

    Bob’s passion for qualitative research

    Bob loves qualitative research because he wants to understand the emotional reasons for what drives people’s decision-making and causes them to behave in particular ways.


    Bob feels very fortunate to run online focus groups or online interviews and test everything beforehand to eliminate any potential problems.

    Bob’s other business

    Early on, he decided to have several business areas that would complement each other. It means that if one sector is not doing too well, another will have the opportunity to make up for the shortfall. That is why he also owns another business, a telephone center B2B data collection agency, called Provision Research.

    • 28 min
    The Glow of Research with Tim Clover | Ep. 122

    The Glow of Research with Tim Clover | Ep. 122

    Sima Vasa is excited to welcome Tim Clover as her guest for today’s podcast. Tim is the CEO and Founder of Glow, based in Australia. Tim is originally from the UK and has been living in Australia for the last ten years.

    About Glow

    Glow is an online research platform, and people often compare it with SurveyMonkey on steroids. For Tim, it is about a lot more than just creating surveys. It is about the whole workflow for research.

    Some background

    As a kid, Tim was into engineering and finding out how things work. He started his first business after getting his engineering degree. He tried to use Excel macros to standardize processes and do things like process mapping. And he wanted to work out how to create channels into different markets. Although he earned enough to pay the rent and eat, he needed to gain more life and company experience, so he ended up working for a UK company, doing business simulation work.

    Not fitting the mold

    A friend called Tim and suggested that he apply for a role at the company he was working for because they needed someone with his skill set. Tim applied for and got the job. But he felt that did not quite fit that mold, which was generally very academic and did not involve much thinking outside the box.


    Tim became interested in the sensitivities around many of the assumptions in the models that were being used in the company he was working for. He wanted to understand where the data was coming from that was feeding those assumptions. That pushed his career within that company into a role of story-telling, and into dealing with much more senior people in the organizations, to challenge them and help them form assumptions. From doing that, he became well-known within the organization.


    In Australia, they were trying to do a similar thing. They wanted to build a team to analyze data and analytics from an operational perspective. So Tim decided to move there and help the company build a team in Melbourne.


    Tim did a lot of work with retailers. A big retailer called Coles was going through a major transformation at the time, and Tim’s team helped them pull together all their data together.

    The birth of Glow

    It took a long time to get their customer data together, and Tim started tinkering around to find ways to speed things up. Through his endeavors to find a better way to capture the information, Glow was born.


    Glow, as a concept, was born because of a gap in the ability to reach consumers. It was a way that companies could tap into their customers more quickly and directly. Initially, Tim did not think of it as a survey platform. He just wanted to close the gap in hard-to-reach places and create experiences for the customers to engage.

    Good times and bad

    When starting a business, you have to weigh up the personal risk and realize that the path will be hard. If you’re not absolutely focused and completely determined, you’re going to find the ride pretty tough. Tim has had some fantastic times and some tough times over the last seven years.

    At first

    At first, Glow was all about getting data from hard to reach places and leveraging their tech to fund growth. In the background, they were investing more heavily in the ability to write the surveys themselves.

    Clients could log in

    After starting to write the surveys themselves, about three years ago, they released the first version of Glow where their clients could log in, look at their account, see the surveys running, and change some of the questions.

    Getting data

    Before, Tim was more of an insights person than a researcher. So when he got into research,

    • 29 min
    Understanding Performance of New Product Launches with Ken Roshkoff | Ep. 121

    Understanding Performance of New Product Launches with Ken Roshkoff | Ep. 121

    I am happy to welcome Ken Roshkoff, the CEO of AMC Global, as my guest for today.

    Ken’s father started AMC Global

    Ken’s father started their company in 1979. He was a true researcher who loved working with data, doing analytics, and working with project staff.

    The competitive component

    Ken always loved the competitive component, so he spent much of his childhood focused on sports. He loved tournaments and competing, so he knew that he would eventually embark on a career with competitive elements.

    Getting involved with AMC

    When Ken initially got involved with AMC, his father started training him to crunch the numbers and become an expert in running projects. However, Ken quickly realized that was not going to be his thing. He felt that for him to be excited about what he was doing, he had to bring his clients into a space that would be more interesting to him.

    Giving the business another shot

    After less than a year, Ken left the business to go to grad school to get an MBA. Coming out of that, he decided to give the business another shot. He wanted to do things a little differently, however.

    A unique methodology

    Given his interest in CPG, he identified an opportunity in product launch tracking. In around 1991, he developed a unique positioning and created and patented a unique methodology that would help major CPG companies capture robust insights from the purchasers of the products in the market. That program became known as PFU (Purchaser Follow Up).

    Marketing the PFU program

    Ken then began actively marketing the PFU program to CPG companies. He created a niche. Then he leveraged it to form relationships with some of the largest CPG companies in the world.

    Working at all stages of the product life cycle

    AMC does work at all stages of the product life cycle.

    Where the program fits

    Ken’s program fits between pre-launch and post-launch work.

    The launch phase

    The issue for many of Ken’s clients is that they were not getting reliable repeat information until six months, or longer, into the launch. Ken's launch phase starts from day one of the launches and runs throughout the first three to six months.

    A robust way to capture insights

    He developed the PFU program as a robust way to capture insights, both qualitative and quantitative, from the very first purchasers of new products. Then they track those consumers to understand how well the products fit into their lifestyle if they are re-purchasing, and if not, why not.

    What the PFU program involves

    The PFU program works by placing an invitation in or on a package, in a slightly disguised way because it is not meant to be a purchase driver. Ken wants people to find the invitation when they get the product home and use it. When they open the product, they typically find an offer for a prepaid cash card.

    A built-in usage period

    They build in a usage period. So after the extended usage period, they send the purchasers a cash card with instructions for how to activate it by doing a phase-two survey. It is a bit like an in-market home-use test, and it is flexible. And it can get used globally.

    The beauty of the system

    As long as the product sells, they can provide their clients with top-line information at any point during the project.

    Trends related to launching new products

    Lately, Ken has been seeing a lot of companies shortening the pre-launch process. And that makes the launch-phase tracking that Ken does even more important.

    Historical product launch data base

    Ken uses his historical database to benchmark new products against other simila...

    • 23 min
    2021 Perspectives for the Data Industry | Ep. 120

    2021 Perspectives for the Data Industry | Ep. 120

    This is the first episode in our MRX Podcast Network series. I am excited to kick this year off with an episode focused on perspectives and thoughts related to our industry for 2021.

    A year like no other

    2020 has been a year like no other. As an industry, we collaborated, we called on each other for help, and we were there for each other, both personally and professionally. That was an important statement, and it showed me that, as an industry, we are resilient, we can adapt, we can pivot, and find a path forward.

    No playbook

    We have no playbook to follow. And we can’t look at history to know what will happen with consumer behavior, consumer attitudes, consumer perceptions, and the decisions and choices that companies will make, both on the supplier side and the in-client side.

    The good news

    The good news for our industry is that people need information and insights to inform the decisions they have to make. I think that 2021 is going to be a vital time for our industry to get more engaged and to focus on being able to provide solutions.

    Stakeholder capitalism

    2020 was a year when we saw stakeholder capitalism take place. Employees and consumers wanted companies to stand for something beyond profit and loss, and they wanted companies to be linked to the values they represent. They wanted to vote with their dollars as to the companies they believed in, and the products and services they believed in that were in line with their value system.

    A big question

    The big question is, as brands, organizations, and companies grow, will that concept allow for sustainable growth? And does that translate to performance and something real that shareholders and investors can believe in? Those are topics that need to be researched and understood.

    Playing a vital part

    The silver lining is that our industry can play a vital part in helping companies to answer some of those questions.

    2021 is going to be similar to 2020

    In 2020, every week felt like a month because many decisions were getting made. So we had to be faster because things were moving. In my mind, 2021 is going to be similar. It will continue to be fast because brands and clients will have to accelerate the speed at which they operate.


    Technology is essential in our industry. It will cut across the entire landscape.

    Faster and more efficient

    Organizations will have to be faster and more efficient in how they go to market, launch new products, develop campaigns, sell, manage their supply chain, manage their employees, and hire. Every function and business process will need to be quicker, and companies will need to keep up because if they don’t do it, a competitor will.

    Deliver solutions

    As part of the data, marketing, research, insights ecosystem, we need to deliver solutions to meet those needs. And to do that, we will have to adapt and do things a little differently in 2021.

    Impacting each part of the data ecosystem

    Over the years, we have seen tech-enabled companies impacting every part of the data ecosystem. When there is technology, there is scale. And when there’s scale, there is investment. So, I believe that in 2021 and beyond, we will continue to see capital getting put into our industry. And that is a good thing because it keeps innovation alive and allows us to grow our share of the pie in terms of dollars spent.

    The driver

    The driver is speed and to facilitate decision-making as efficiently as possible.

    Strategic research

    We need to continue doing strategic research and using metrics to understand how we are doing.

    Parts of the value chain where technology plays...

    • 21 min
    The MRX Podcast Network | Ep. 119

    The MRX Podcast Network | Ep. 119

    I am excited to share some news with you today. Some of my fellow podcasters and I came up with the concept of an MRX Podcast Network.

    The main mission of the podcast network is to be able to podcast on a topic on our respective podcast channels, and provide multiple points of view, perspectives, and formats on how we address the specific topic, and give all our listeners in the industry a broader perspective as it relates to that topic.

    We are starting this year with what we think that 2021 holds for our industry. These are not predictions or forecasts. They are about what each one of us wanted to share, related to 2021, and our thoughts about the market research industry, data, and analytics space.

    We hope you enjoy what we have to share. We will be publishing the first series over the next few days.

    For this podcast, we have put together a teaser to showcase some of what will be coming up in each of our podcast episodes, related to the outlook for 2021. Stay tuned for more!


    We will remember 2020 for many things, including a rise in the number of podcasts. Currently, 37% of Americans listen to podcasts monthly, and in 2020, more than a hundred million Americans listened to at least one podcast each month. It was the first time that that has ever happened.

    Today’s show

    We will be hearing from six podcasters today, and each podcaster will give their outlook for market research in 2021.

    David Paul – The Audible Insights Podcast from the Insights Association

    This podcast focuses on quick-take conversations during industry events and longer interviews with industry leaders. They strive to keep everyone up to date with the market research industry, the latest methods and techniques, and the trends for the future.

    Kathryn Korostoff – Conversations for Research Rockstars Podcast

    Conversations for Research Rockstars is a video podcast that Kathryn has been running for a couple of years. It is about advancing the work and careers of market research and insights professionals. Kathryn has thousands of subscribers, and she has had some amazing conversations in the series.

    Merill Dubrow – On the M/A/R/C®

    Merrill has just completed his first year with 56 episodes. There is one episode for every year that M/A/R/C® research has been in business. Each episode is unscripted, uncensored, unrehearsed. There are plenty of takeaways from the amazing guests that he has had, including a mix of professional athletes, insight leaders, and CEOs.

    Sima Vasa – Data Gurus

    The mission of the Data Gurus podcast is to help everyone in the data ecosystem navigate the sea of change. Sima speaks to leaders, practitioners, CEOs, and change agents in the industry.

    Stephen Griffiths – Digging for Insights Podcast

    The Digging for Insights Podcast is a marketing and career podcast with advice from insights leaders from companies like Nestle, Ipsos, and General Mills. As a client-side researcher, Stephen focuses this podcast on helping client-side and supplier-side folks get the insights they need to grow their careers and the businesses on which they work.

    Jamin Brazil - Happy Market Research Podcast

    The Happy Market Research Podcast has had over 300 episodes and covers four industry trends per year. For each trend, they interview subject matter experts from major brands, including Adobe, Microsoft, and Proctor and Gamble.

    David’s outlook for market research for 2021

    David's focus is on seeing the rebound of in-person research happening as soon as possible. He is anxious to support the ability to safely and quickly get people back in-person, doing in-person qualitative, and ramping that part of the industry back up.

    • 12 min
    Leadership, Growth and Management with Steve Schlesinger | Ep. 118

    Leadership, Growth and Management with Steve Schlesinger | Ep. 118

    We are excited to welcome Steve Schlesinger, the CEO of the Schlesinger Group, as our guest for today’s show.

    Join us today to learn about Steve’s journey. You will hear the story behind the Schlesinger Group and find out how it got founded by Steve’s mother back in 1966.

    Steve’s mother’s story

    The Schlesinger Group was founded by Steve’s mother in 1966.

    A few years before, she started looking for a part-time job, and a friend of hers who was working for a company in New York City, got her a job as a phone interviewer, working from a bedroom in the house in which Steve grew up.

    She was very good at what she was doing, and after a year or two, she was promoted to Regional Supervisor.

    In around 1966, some of the companies she was working for encouraged her to open a company and set herself up so that she could manage several groups of people, and they could feed her business.

    Her business got incorporated in 1966, and she built up a roster of clients for whom she did the field data collection.

    A group of women

    Steve’s mom was part of a phenomenal group of women who all started in the data collection space more or less at the same time in the late 1950s. They built up businesses over the years, and some of those businesses ultimately got bought out by other companies. Those women did a wonderful job of building up the data collection aspect of the market research world.

    Working for his mother

    When Steve was seventeen, he started officially working for his mother by doing intercept interviews at New York Airport for United. He did that for her many times while he was in high school.

    Growing up

    While Steve was growing up, there were often leftover products from product tests in their house. Occasionally, he would get asked to deliver something to an interviewer or a responder. That was fun for him.

    Starting to understand 

    Steve’s mother used to do focus groups at their kitchen table when he was a teenager, and while he was growing up, there was generally a lot going on in the house. That was when he started to understand what his mother was doing, and talking about, in terms of ad campaigns.

    After college

    Steve took a year off after his first year at Medical School. During that year, his mom insisted that he worked for her while figuring out what he wanted to do with his life. He ended up falling in love with the work he was doing for her and decided to keep on doing it.

    Building the business

    In light of that, and knowing that she would soon retire, his mother decided to build up the business to make it more substantial. She also decided to open up an office to get Steve out of the basement of their house. He worked for his mother for about six or seven years before taking over and running the business himself.

    A strong foundation

    Steve’s mother had a good reputation, and she was very ethical and honest. That gave their business a strong foundation and allowed it to grow. Steve has always appreciated what his mom gave to the business, and he still lives by those same principles today.

    Some of the early lessons Steve learned

    You need to learn as you grow because as the business grows, you need to manage and lead it differently. You need to make new decisions about what you want your business to be and do what it takes to get there. Ultimately, you need to learn from your mistakes, and you need to change as an individual within the organization during all its different stages of growth.

    Steve’s style of leadership

    Steve is a good delegator, and he does not enjoy micromanaging. He is a good listener, he is good at putting faith and trust into the people around him...

    • 28 min

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