Association Leader Spotlight: Tiina Raikko, The Research Society

6th May 20

Tiina Raikko
The Research Society Vice-President

Three wishes for 2020

My first wish would have to be for everyone’s health and wellbeing. I don’t know about you but I’m getting a bit over ‘unprecedented’ as a word to describe what’s happening but this pandemic is certainly a doozy and has impacted everyone to some degree. Health and wellbeing has to be our first priority right now and  it’s fantastic to see how well our Members and Company and Client Partners here in Australia have responded to the crisis and adapted their processes and ways of working to take care of themselves and their people.

The Research Society represents the research sector with 2000 individual Members and over 80 leading research Company and Client Partners who employ over 12,000 permanent and casual employees. Our Members and Company Partners conduct research for the majority of Federal and State Government Departments, Local Governments and ASX top 200 companies. Our Client Partners commission research and include ASX top 200 companies as well as government departments and agencies. The Australian research and insights industry generates over $1 billion of economic activity annually, with all levels of Government representing a significant portion of this. So, my second wish is that both the private and public sector continue to recognise and support a) the significant economic contribution our sector makes to the Australian economy and b)  the invaluable contribution we can continue to make to fact based decision making through this immediate crisis and then in navigating through a likely recession. Every decision across government, business and not for profit sectors affecting Australians in every aspect of their lives is informed by high quality research conducted by our members and that’s never been more important than right now when high quality up to the minute information and insight is critical.

Thirdly I hope that our sector and many outside of it allied to what we do, continue to engage in greater numbers with The Research Society. After months of behind-the-scenes work, we are relaunching the Australian Market & Social Research Society as The Research Society.  In our 65th year the rebrand  brings not only a fresh, up-to-date look and feel but offers members and partners a range of exciting new opportunities to get involved and contribute to Australia’s most trusted research Society. The rebrand moves the organisation to a more contemporary community association for the research, insights and data industry that provides benefits and services to research professionals throughout their career.  Market and social researchers continue to be at the heart of our membership but we want to embrace and cater for their changing interests as well as a broader sector of professionals who also operate in research including: CX, UX, Design and Service Research Professionals; Data Analysts and Insight Professionals; Evaluators; Operational and Panel Experts; Academics and Students.  Our new offers  and opportunities will ensure we are able to best support our Members, in whichever areas they work,  to drive their careers through training, networking, standards, accreditation and online resources.

Top challenges facing sector in next 3 years/ Biggest opportunities facing our sector in the next 3 years?

 I tried to answer these questions separately but often challenges and opportunities are just the same thing framed differently so I’m choosing to take the positive route. It’s probably worth saying too that I think our key opportunities are not really new ones brought on by the current crisis but are opportunities we have been working on for a while that perhaps have been in some cases brought into sharper focus with all that is going on.

Firstly  I think our role as sense-makers and bringers of meaning to data has never been more important. Data is becoming available from increasing sources in increasing volumes but few are as well placed as us to help navigate that data. Few have the professional skills and experience to explore and interrogate that data, to synthesise, contextualise and draw meaning and direction from it. The opportunity to continue to promote our contribution in this area continues to be our greatest opportunity as research professionals and as an industry.

Coronavirus has undoubtedly driven a faster shift to more digital and remote ways of working. They were happening before but suddenly it’s happening for us all and many have also had to adapt their methodologies and research approaches to this new environment. We have a tremendous opportunity now to really embrace this shift, look further into the opportunities that technology can offer us. Many of our members and partners were already embracing technology but the current crisis has given us an opportunity to really supercharge some of that change which can provide greater agility, efficiency and flexibility for ourselves, our clients and our people.

An ongoing opportunity remains that of continuing to attract young talent to our industry. Those of us who have been  around forever remember when research was more or less being a qual or quant researcher or the classic  ‘all rounder’ and methodologies could be counted on one hand. An exaggeration perhaps but you know what I mean if you’ve been around for a while. In 2020 this profession is dynamic. We offer an incredibly diverse range of career opportunities and areas to specialise in, opportunities to innovate particularly around technology and more ways to network and work with people across different professions and specialities. This is a great time to get into the research profession and we have to continue to work hard to get that message out through our work, our promotional activity and our relationships with the tertiary education sector.

Little known / fun facts about Tiina?

So this turned out to be the hardest question to answer! I’m an extrovert so lots of people already know lots about me whether they like it or not! But here goes… I love rugby, watching not playing, so I’m really missing my teams hitting the paddock this time of year; Eastwood, the Waratahs and of course the Wallabies. I’m Finnish by birth so the second ‘I’ in Tiina is legitimate and not a typo or based on the recommendation of a numerologist. I speak Finnish but it’s a bit rough, not much call on it in Australia! I’m married with 2 adults sons with whom I have completely failed to promote our profession. They hate the thought of sitting at a laptop, are both carpenter/builders and to this day can’t really explain what I do. I hope all you have more luck!