Presidential Point of View--With Merrill Shugoll

September 28, 2007

As President of your organization what does an average day look like?

  • Meeting with appropriate staff regarding one or more of the following:
    • Business strategy
    • Quality practices
    • Facility improvements
    • Business development
    • Staff Development
    • Technology
    • Finance
    • Client feedback
    • Employee feedback
  • In person meetings or conference calls with one or more outside advisors, research partners or job candidates -- Accountant
    • Corporate or HR attorney
    • Banker
    • Insurance broker
    • Architect/Interior Designer/Real Estate Agent
    • Travel consultant
    • Research partner
    • Job candidate
  • Lunch and/or meeting with a client, a prospect or other colleague
  • Meeting with Senior Vice President of Field Operations
  • Review of or consult on key deliverables for highly valued clients (e.g., proposals, final reports, etc.)
  • Review of or consult on key documents or contracts from clients and research partners
  • Preparation of study materials on projects I'm directing for highly valued clients
  • Conference calls and completion of tasks related to my professional and community involvement activities (e.g., Board of MRA, Committee involvement for QRCA, Board involvement for Signature Theatre, speaking engagements)

What was the best business decision you ever made?

The best decision I ever made was going into my family business to diversify its services. I like being an entrepreneur. It's challenging and fun. The highs are definitely higher and the lows are definitely lower.

As a business leader how do you measure success?

  1. We are successful if we have been able to maintain high levels of client satisfaction over time, while remaining profitable. I evaluate this through client satisfaction studies, weekly analysis of cash flow reports and monthly analysis of our financial statements.
  2. We are successful if we have been able to create a work environment that staff find intellectually challenging and personally and professionally rewarding. I measure this by obtaining feedback from employees and by measuring our turnover rate and the longevity of our staff.
  3. We are successful if our company is able to sustain its targeted contribution goals both in trade and tangible dollars to the performing and visual arts community across the country.

Are there certain qualities that you look for in people you are hiring?

  1. A candidate's human values (e.g., honesty, work ethic, commitment to their job and to their colleagues, willingness to accept responsibility, willingness to collaborate and share knowledge, etc.)
  2. A candidate's current and future career aspirations
  3. A candidate's academic background and work experience
  4. Willingness to travel, if needed
  5. A candidate's technology skills
  6. A candidate's current level of knowledge and skills to determine competency for the open position
  7. A candidate's client service skills, willingness and ability to nurture existing client relationships
  8. A candidate's ability to respond intelligently to a series of scenarios they might encounter on the job
  9. A candidate's willingness and past experience with mining new business
  10. Reasons for wanting to leave their current position and what they like best and least about their current position
  11. A candidate's creativity, talent and past success in developing new services/products to increase company revenues

Who do you admire the most in the research community?

There are many respected research professionals I admire. Merrill, you certainly are one of them. However, I admire none more than my mother-in-law, Joan Shugoll, who is one of the smartest, classiest research professionals and human beings I have had the privilege to know.

Please list 3 words that describe yourself

Honest, Caring, Curious

What inspired you to get into the market research industry?

One of my first jobs was in the marketing research department of an ad agency. I found the work intellectually stimulating and the people were bright and creative. The profession seemed to fit me like a glove. It is so much fun to play a part in the success of our clients' businesses and all because we are able to help them better understand the essence of their marketplace and the needs of their customers. Everyday is about a different product/service or a new problem and fresh solutions. I love it!

How do you motivate your employees?

  • Treating them with respect
  • Coaching them, providing positive reinforcement and providing constructive feedback
  • Compensating them fairly
  • Offering a variety of special programs/allowable perks
  • Empowering them to make decisions.

What do you do for fun when you aren't working?

When I'm not working, I'm with my family enjoying theater, concerts, dance and every sporting event imaginable.

<< Back