Using your research skills in a job: Career Spotlight on Research

For this Career Spotlight on using your research skills, we were joined by Dr Jane Colechin, researcher from Inclusion (the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion), and Dr Emma Broom, Healthcare Analyst from Sociable Pharma, who came with her manager and co- founder of the company, Nigel Marsh.

Jane left us a copy of her presentation KCL Presentation Jane Colechin and I’d urge you to take a look.  Inclusion focuses mainly on NEETs and other disadvantaged groups, running events, providing research and consultancy about work, and evaluating major projects including the DWP’s Work Programme.  As previous speakers in the Spotlights have done, Jane talked about the differences between working as an academic researcher and as a social researcher (mainly the time lines and having to run several projects at once).

Her own career runs from a PhD in Political Science at Birmingham, to a short post-doc at Cardiff, to a brief internship for a family charity where she got direct experience of lobbying.  This internship led to a paid role at the charity and then onto Inclusion.

Jane’s slides provide some great links for vacancies and other social research organisations.

Nigel and Emma talked then about their work at Sociable Pharma, founded in 2010.  The three main services they provide are

  • Market Research – through interviews with physicians, Key Opinion Leaders, opinion polls
  • Competitive Intelligence – product and market tracking, attending medical meetings; understanding how physicians change prescriptions patterns
  • Advisory – thinking about medical communications (eg disease and product awareness websites), strategic consulting, and web strategy. It might include business war-gaming.

The analyst’s role is mainly to research surveys and questionnaires.  You are given particular disease areas and have to research available evidence around them.  You might attend relevant disease conferences on behalf of clients.  You’re providing contextual analysis.

Skills required would include:

  • communication – eg reports being logical
  • writing, for Powerpoint rather than lengthy reports
  • being independent and able to manage your own projects
  • being flexible – it’s a small business
  • quick understanding of problems.

Nigel subsequently posted a job on our JobOnline site –


Interested in social research and evaluation?

Please check out this Project Oracle event **this evening** where you might be able to find yourself an interesting internship in this area.

If you can’t attend the event or it has passed when you read this, keep an eye on their website as it appears they offer these opportunities quite regularly.

Please always talk to your supervisor before committing to any additional work outside your PhD, and keep an eye on the Graduate School website for information about further internship opportunities in the next couple of weeks.

Want to use your research skills? Read on to find out about one PhD who does just that

Tom Huskinson, Associate Director of Social Research at Ipsos MORI, spoke at the recent SSPP panel.

Why did you want to work in social research?

Tom’s PhD in social psychology at Cardiff led him to a deep interest in his subject, but also the knowledge that he wasn’t interested in staying on in academia.  He enjoyed and want to improve his skills in statistics, literature reviews and sampling.  Applying to both Ipsos and MORI (separate organisations at the time), he was more interested in MORI because of its pedigree in policy and policy research.  He had thought about applying to work in smaller organisations, but figured that there would be more variety in a larger one.

How does your PhD help you?

His PhD has helped more as he has gone through his career.  Initially, the project management skills he learned helped in his work, and some of the research subject areas he worked on in his PhD were useful.  More latterly, as he moved into the Research Methods unit, knowledge around bias in structure and order of questions has come useful.  When bidding for contracts, it is important to show an academic grounding and to be able to incorporate current academic thinking into project design.  His role now includes responding to internal queries and sharing expertise, while occasionally conducting primary research and speaking at conferences.

What do you like in your role?

Tom cites the variety of his role – doing pitches, speaking at conferences, doing robust, expensive research – as the main thing he appreciates.  The atmosphere and working methods of an organisation are important to him and he likes the ‘think tank’ style of his current place. 

What is not so good are the bureaucracy that come with working in a large organisation – the time sheets, audits and jargon!  In common with researchers in other organisations, it is frustrating if your research is not actually used meaningfully; and deadlines and long hours can be difficult to navigate.

Where might you move on to?

Tom might find a research role in a different organisation – the Civil Service, Coco-Cola!, or into think tanks or policy areas.  Equally, he could move into academia.

The market in social research is slightly growing, particularly in measurement and evaluation as organisations look to be able to demonstrate value for money.

Panel event for SSPP PhDs this Friday, 11-12.30pm

Hello SSPP people!


Final speaker for the panel on Friday confirmed, so the full list looks like this:

Amir Smailbegovic, RBS

Having obtained Masters degree in Immunology and a PhD in Pharmacology (Effects of glycosaminoglycans on inflammatory cell function) at the Sackler Institute of Pulmonary Pharmacology, King’s College London under Prof Clive Page, I started working as a Wellcome Trust postdoctoral fellow at the School of Pharmacy, University of London. Although my education was science oriented, my other interests were international affairs and finance, something I developed while working for the World Bank in New York during my Gap year. Upon finishing postdoctoral fellowship, I joined Mitsubishi UFJ, largest Japanese bank as a derivatives trader, where I spent 6 years. In 2010, I moved to Daiwa Capital Markets in Hong Kong tasked with setting up a new derivatives trading desk, however, decided to move back to London a year later. I joined Royal Bank of Scotland’s investment banking arm in 2011 as Senior Business Manger within Global Trading.

Tom Huskinson, IPSOS Mori

Tom was awarded a PhD in Social Psychology by Cardiff University in 2004.  His PhD  was concerned with the psychology of attitudes: Tom researched the extent to which individuals differ in their tendency to base their attitudes on factual versus emotional information, whether these differences can be measured, and how these differences relate to aspects of attitudes such as attitude strength and susceptibility to persuasion. 

Tom joined Ipsos MORI (then MORI) after completing his PhD, and since then has managed surveys and research projects for a wide variety of clients, including the Ministry of Justice, the Department for Education, Victim Support, and the government of Trinidad and Tobago.  Tom currently works in Ipsos MORI’s ‘Research Method’s Centre,’ which serves as the company’s internal hub of expertise in survey design, research methodology, and statistics.  The RMC applies the latest developments from academia to Ipsos MORI’s work, generates primary methodological research for dissemination in journals and conferences, and offers training and support internally and to clients on research methods.

Sara Fazlali, Secret Me Ltd

Sara Fazlali is the co-Founder and CEO of Secret Me Ltd, a high-end luxury invitation-only programme where individuals learn key personal protection skills that are then also applicable to real life and business from ex-Special Forces and Intelligence personnel. She is also the Founder and Director of Areté Club, a private members club that brings together different generations from the worlds of politics, military, business, law and the arts and hosts small intimate events to discuss and develop on today’s pressing issues. It brings people together to make valuable introductions and connections and fixes or brokers business problems around the world for Club members and contacts. She is currently still studying for her PhD at King’s in War Studies. 

Chris Mackmurdo, Foreign Office

Chris Mackmurdo is Head of the National Security Research Group at the Foreign Office. He leads a team of expert Research Analysts responsible for providing strategic analysis and advice on national security issues, such as international terrorism. Prior to joining the Diplomatic Service, he completed a PhD in international relations at the London School of Economics and was awarded an MA (IPS) and BA (War Studies) from King’s College London.  

Jamies Gillies, Bain

I joined Bain just over 2 years ago as an Associate Consultant, after finishing my doctorate in which I looked at how eagles control themselves in flight. Since joining Bain I have worked on 13 different projects, which have ranged from helping an Airline alliance to assess whether its financial model was sustainable, to running a survey of 5000 women in 5 countries to understand what they wanted in a pair of hair straighteners.

11-12.30, Friday 24th May, War Studies Meeting Room.

See you there!