Meet the team that makes your breakthroughs possible

LOUISE AMANTANI

RESEARCH MANAGER

Job Description

My main focus is qualitative social research. I’m happiest when I’m working with vulnerable audiences and putting the world to rights!

What is it about your job that gives you a real buzz?

Meeting new people from all walks of life, and getting insights into how people pass their everyday life which you would have no idea about otherwise. I’ve talked to pensions directors and recovering heroin addicts, people I would never have met if I’d done another job.

Why market research?

It’s great having a job where the task in front of you always involves trying to understand a little part of the world in detail in order to solve a particular problem for your client. Whatever the sector, it’s always educational!

What is your favourite memory?

Crossing the Caribbean in a yacht, with 3 other people. It took us 4 days from Colombia to Panama, and just as we approached the San Blas islands on the last day (hundreds of tiny islands, populated by indigenous people) a bunch of dolphins started racing us, right next to the boat.

What does your perfect day look like?

Lying in a hammock, next to a mountain of fudge, covered in meerkats, reading a book

What superpower would you choose?

When watching a cookery programme, the ability to make the dishes appear before me in real, edible form.

What film best represents your life?

Primer

Cats or dogs?

Both

KATE ANDERSON

MANAGING DIRECTOR

Job Description

Heading up this inspiring, dynamic team, championing their work and the breakthroughs we bring clients. Supporting clients and the Breaking Blue team in the hunt for real insight.

What is it about your job that gives you a real buzz?

I get to work with such a dynamic, diverse and passionate team. I’m never bored, I’m constantly learning, I’m inspired and energised by the work that we do and the impact that it has. How lucky am I?

What’s been the most exciting project you’ve worked on?

Running a customer advisory board for FedEx I got to go to the Ferrari test track at Maranello and meet Jean Todt – pretty high octane. But really the projects that get me most excited are the ones that make the biggest impact. Seeing a plant filled to capacity, watching the reforms tackle the pensions’ crisis, seeing an ad that hits the nail on the head – those are the most exciting points for me.

Why market research?

I love knowing why, I love fixing problems, I love making a real difference

Who would you want with you if you were stranded on a deserted island?

Emanuela Lombardi our research department coordinator– she’d find a way to get us home.

What’s your favourite word?

Nincompoop, Rachmaninov, Fukushima – shout them loud in moments of frustration, it’s very therapeutic.

What superpower would you choose?

I’d be a transformer – I don’t mean that I’d be a robot in disguise but that I’d have the power to transform, to take a situation and turn it around just like that.

LORENA ARROSPIDE

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR

Job Description

I observe, ask people a lot of questions (I try to do this tactfully), and listen. In doing this, I uncover insights which inform organisations’ key decisions.

Why market research?

It suits my inquisitive nature. I have a deep-seated need to understand/learn.

What is it about your job that gives you a real buzz?

I enjoy making sense of findings and discussing implications with clients. It’s great when their eyes express that they are interested, and that they find insights particularly intriguing and/or resonant. It’s a good conversation.

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?

I am attracted to islands, remote ones – Scilly, Comoros, Socotra… Socotra seems out of this world. I guess it’s about escaping

Favourite book?

Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance. Generally, I love novels about characters’ lives with a particular historical period as a backdrop

Cats or dogs?

Dogs. I think cats are interesting but dogs are more lovable.

Dream job if not market research?

Actress. I am a shy person, but I have a need to express.

NIALL BAKER

RESEARCH DIRECTOR

What is your role at Breaking Blue?

I lead a lot of our business development work and client relationships, spreading the word about Breaking Blue, exploring new opportunities to work with different organisations and learning more about our clients’ needs.

What are your specialisms?

While I started my career in the transport sector, I’ve been very at home in the world of B2B insight during my time at Breaking Blue. I particularly enjoy helping organisations understand their customer experience and journey, as well as exploring market opportunities.

How would you sum up Breaking Blue in a few words?

Globally-mind, agile insight specialists. What makes us different? We care about the things that matter – focusing on the sectors where we can have most impact, the value we offer our clients, the welfare of our people

What’s the biggest breakthrough you’ve made as a researcher?

Not a personal achievement, but a team one - we transformed an existing global B2B key account survey in the chemicals industry after taking it over from another company, by making a compelling case to build more open discussion into interviews – we’ve since worked with this company for the past 8 years and they are able to make far more meaningful actions to deliver strong customer relationships

How has research evolved during your career?

Generally use of the word ‘research’ has decreased and we focus more on ‘insight’, which I think is great – our primary focus should be on providing first class insight, I think it’s far more important how well we interpret data and make impactful recommendations vs. how we do ‘research’

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Triathlon – there’s always some bit of kit to buy or another event to enter, it’s really a bottomless pit to throw money into.

ALEX BELCHER

RESEARCH MANAGER

Job Description

I am part of a team of researchers dedicated to finding the right research tools and questions for our clients. We use these tools to tease out the insights our clients need to enhance their products, sales and customer relationships. Ensuring we successfully deliver the chosen research plan is central to my role, along with supporting the senior research team when analysing findings and reporting them back to our client.

What is it about your job that gives you a real buzz?

The opportunity to talk to real people about the things they love and that affect their lives. It could be the food they like, their home finances or a charity close to their hearts. No matter the topic, one gains an insight into complex human lives that is seldom as straightforward first imagined. It is a pleasure to report these nuances to our clients, knowing it will make a difference to them and their customers.

What was the most rewarding task you have had to undertake?

I had the honour of talking to a client’s employees who had undertaken fundraising for a major cancer charity. To hear the incredible and often heart-breaking stories behind employees’ attachment to the charity was a privilege and it was intensely rewarding to work with their employer to help them give something back.

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?

This is an easy one. As a boy I was a train geek and in adulthood I developed a love for Russian writing and culture. Put those two together and the Trans-Siberian Railway is the obvious choice. The only decision is where to end the journey? The tourist in me says Beijing but the purist says Vladivostok.

What superpower would you choose?

My gut reaction is to say mind reading, but that must be mentally tiring (not to mentioned disturbing)! Star Trek’s Deanna Troi can read a person’s emotions as they talk and sees when they are honest and when they are holding back. Now that would be a focus group superpower!

RACHEL COPE

DIRECTOR

What is your role at Breaking Blue?

I lead Breaking Blue in the areas of business development, innovation and marketing.

What are your specialisms?

Finding new and innovative solutions to traditional problems.

How would you sum up Breaking Blue in a few words?

Creative. Intelligent. Enthusiastic.

What makes us different at Breaking Blue?

Methodologically speaking it’s that really complex, strategic quant or that truly innovative qual. We’re best suited to those briefs at the extremes of the scale, rather than the more typical stuff in the middle.

You’ve been here for so many years. Why have you stuck around for so long?

The people. Their passion. Their energy. Their knowledge. Their thoughtfulness.

How has research evolved during your career?

Organically! I’ve just followed a path towards what I enjoy, and it hasn’t gone too badly so far.

What’s the oddest thing that’s happened to you at work?

I’d have to go back to my student days and my job as a lifeguard in the local council leisure centre. There are too many to recount! I always say everyone should be made to work with the public at some point to understand the challenges it brings. One person complained about not liking the colour of the changing rooms because they didn’t like blue!

Tell us a secret.

I have a motorbike license?

Tell us about your worst-ever haircut.

Tough choice. Either the basin haircut which is still in photographic existence somewhere (complete with an equally awful choice of outfit) or the really bad perm done by my mum’s neighbour in the late 80s.

CHARLOTTE CRICHTON

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR

Job Description

Solving problems to bring about a real difference to the client’s world.

Why market research?

Because you have the chance to make a difference and every day is different so it keeps it interesting. Plus in what other job can you become an expert on various niche markets and items!

What superpower would you choose?

Can I have a magical object? I’d really like Bernard’s watch (a watch that can stop time). It would help me to finish my to-do list! If not I can just go for time travel.

KATE DOWNER

RESEARCH DIRECTOR

What is your role at Breaking Blue?

I design and direct research studies that address interesting challenges, and ultimately make a difference to people. I specialise in anything qual, particularly consumer and shopper. I lead a lot of our shopper and retail work, but I’m more about the audience and the challenge than the product – so my next project could be about anything from a new investment service to improving the in-store experience at a supermarket pharmacy.

How would you sum up Breaking Blue in a few words?

Clever, conscientious, quirky. We have a lot of fun while we do serious research.

You’ve been here 16 years. Why have you stuck around for so long?

I actually left once! I learned there’s nowhere else like BB, went to Nicaragua for a bit, and came back! This place is definitely my professional home; my colleagues are my research family (pass the bucket).

What’s the biggest breakthrough you’ve made as a researcher?

Combining my years of agency experience with an MSc in management and research methods in 2012. I have academic rigour and commercial agility. I’m a research ninja. OK I’m not, but I’m pretty good!

How has research evolved during your career?

It addresses ever-bigger, ever-trickier challenges as the years roll by. That’s both because we adopt advances in tech to solve research problems, and because clients recognise that business problems can be solved with research! The combination of both things means it’s definitely got more exciting since I first darkened the door in 2003.

Tell us a secret

I’m one of 63 people who hold the Guinness World Record for most people ever to participate in a team fencing exhibition match. I fenced épée and was on the winning team. True story.

If they met you now, what would 16-year-old you be surprised by?

That I moved to London. My sense of direction is so bad that my uni friends thought I wouldn’t make it back from my year abroad in Andorra, let alone navigate my way around the capital for nearly 20 years, and the planet in the name of market research!

VANESSA FOUSCAS

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR

Job Description

Responsible for providing useful and actionable insights to clients.

What is it about your job that gives you a real buzz?

I love projects that challenge me either because they are difficult to manage (i.e.: the sample is complicated), involves using new methodology or tool to analyze data, etc. because once I have everything under control it is very rewarding to see what I have done.

What would be your dream project?

Probably something to do with tourism. I love to travel so it would be prefect if I can work as a mystery shopper for a chain of luxury hotels around the world ☺ If money was no object, what would you do all day? Travel!!!

What is your favourite memory?

My baby’s laugh

What’s your favourite word?

Thanks

What one thing would you change if you had to do it over?

I would have travelled more.

MARK HAINES

GLOBAL IT DIRECTOR

Job Description

My primary responsibility is to oversee the streamlined operation of the IT department and to ensure it aligns with the businesses objectives. My principal goals are to develop and manage applications and to maintain a consistent and enabling IT service for all the staff within the organisation. I plan, coordinate, direct, and design all operational activities of the IT department, as well as provide direction and support for IT solutions that enhance mission-critical business operations. I work closely with decision makers to identify, recommend, develop, implement, and support cost-effective technology solutions for all aspects of the organisation while ensuring we deliver a secure environment to protect our client’s data.

What is it about your job that gives you a real buzz?

Delivering new solutions that enable our staff to work more effectively, or in new ways that deliver real value to our clients.

What was the most exciting/rewarding task you have had to undertake?

Staff development – I love seeing people learn and grow.

Who would you want with you if you were stranded on a deserted island?

Reginald D. Hunter – we would have a laugh!

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?

Iceland – I think it is an amazing place, so different and exciting

What’s the most memorable experience of your life?

My wedding day.

What superpower would you choose?

Teleportation – no more airport delays!

Cats or dogs?

I would want both, but currently have cats.

ALISON JOHNSTONE

RESEARCH MANAGER

What is your role at Breaking Blue?

I manage the day to day running of research projects, making sure they stay on track in terms of deadlines, resourcing and billing. I also help projects get off the ground at the set up stage – designing questionnaires, briefing the team and liaising with clients to make sure they get the results and outputs they are looking for!

What are your specialism?

I contribute to both qualitative and quantitative studies, but my core specialism is large-scale surveys, often across global markets and in multiple languages.

What makes us different at Breaking Blue?

Breaking Blue is always evolving, exploring new areas for development… which means we get to work alongside a spectrum of clients, researching a wide variety of sectors and markets, and talk to all sorts of audiences.

What’s the biggest breakthrough you’ve made as a researcher?

So far, my proudest achievement has been delivering a truly worldwide study – surveying people in Australia, South Africa, China, Mongolia and Singapore – for a US client. Successfully gathering data from different continents, cultures, time zones and languages was a challenge, but we brought it home on time and within budget, as promised.

How has research evolved during your career?

The opportunities ahead in terms of open data and the sophisticated ways of interrogating that data are very exciting, and it would be great to get stuck into more longitudinal and ‘big data’ analytics.

If they met you now, what would 16-year-old you be surprised by?

That I’ve ended up in a numbers job – on-the-spot mental arithmetic is still terrifying!

RHIANNON JONES

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR

Job Description

Talking, watching and listening to all sorts of people in all sort of places – to understand their lives and the decisions they make. And then, (the best bit!), really getting under the skin of what they say, what they mean and what that actually means for our clients commercially

What is it about your job that gives you a real buzz?

Giving clients answers and seeing them get excited about what their customers think and need. But also getting the chance to meet so many people and understand the way they look at things – it really opens your eyes and makes you think differently about the world.

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?

India – because it seems like the place most different to where I live.

What does your perfect day look like?

Breakfast in Paris, a sunny picnic for lunch on a beach in Wales (it really would have to be sunny though) and dinner in Rome.

What superpower would you choose?

Definitely invisibility. I’m very nosy and so would love to be able to earwig on peoples’ conversations more subtly than I usually do!

CHRISTOPH KӦRBITZ

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR

Job Description

Designing and delivering research solutions to help my clients understand their target audience and improve their service proposition.

What is it about your job that gives you a real buzz?

I enjoy jumping in and getting my hands dirty with rich primary research. Whether it’s large scale quant or in-depth qual, there are always interesting challenges and compelling stories that emerge. My specialisms cover social research for public sector and third sector organisations.

Why social research?

Somebody explained to me that in research we’re knowledge workers. This is probably what drew me into this industry: to be the first one to find out about new things.

If money was no object, what would you do all day?

Being with my family, travelling, reading, cooking, learning to play the piano, and running in the park.

What is your favourite memory?

One of them is smelling sea air for the first time.

What does your perfect day look like?

Spending a day in the park with my partner and our two little children, where the only problems are what to play next and which ice cream flavour to choose.

What superpower would you choose?

I’m undecided between flying and being invisible.

Which author would you choose to write your biography?

Hanif Kureishi.

AMIE LUTHER

RESEARCH MANAGER

Job Description

Making sure everything happens as and when it should!

What is it about your job that gives you a real buzz?

I love the feeling that we’re really helping people, if someone has a problem, why? What is it? How can it be fixed? When conducting research with vulnerable audiences especially I’d like to think we make a difference.

Why market research?

I’m interested in what people have to say (aka nosy!), I like to know what makes people tick and I think I’m a good listener.

What is your favourite memory?

Caravanning in the summer holidays when I was little

What’s your favourite word?

Thingamajig

What does your perfect day look like?

Peace and quiet, a cup of tea, cake and a book

Cats or dogs?

Favourite quote:

If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely (Roald Dahl) Random: Whenever the word ‘baby’ is used in a song I like to substitute it with ‘Amie’ e.g. “I love you Amie and if it’s quite alright I love you Amie” good eh.

RHIANNON PHILLIPS

RESEARCH MANAGER

Job Description

I find insights and answers. I listen, I observe and I question – as sensitively and tactfully as possible, always striving to identify the ‘right’ questions. I then feed insights gathered back to the client enabling them to improve their service, product or proposition. I also manage projects and enjoy supporting the development of junior members of the team.

What is it about your job that gives you a real buzz?

I am insatiably curious; I was that archetypal ‘Why?’ child. Fortunately, I’ve grown out of incessantly questioning everyone about everything ever, but that fascination with the world and everything in it (especially people!) has never left me and I don’t think it ever will. Working in research allows me to explore new things, think new thoughts, gain new understandings and share that insight with people who genuinely want to know. Basically, I get paid to be curious, how incredible is that?!

What would be your dream project?

Social media has quickly become an integral part of most of our lives, but it’s still such a new phenomenon that its impact isn’t yet fully understood. This is probably my psychology background speaking but, there’s so much to be discovered and understood about it, particularly in terms of the influence it’s having on the way we form, develop and maintain relationships. I’d love to do a big project with Facebook exploring its impact and influence on the social and emotional development of the millennial generation – a generation who can’t recall a time before social media existed!

Who would you want with you if you were stranded on a deserted island?

Bear Grylls. Obvious choice really. I mean who else could be that interesting and save the day.

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?

Everywhere really!! I’m itching to go backpacking through South America… But if I have to be pinned to one place currently it would be Yellow Stone National Park. I have a real love of nature and wildlife, the ecosystem and geography there is so amazingly complex and diverse, it really is totally unique, there’s nowhere else like it on Earth.

DANIELLE RODGERSON

RESEARCH MANAGER

What is your role at Breaking Blue?

My role is to find answers to clients’ problems through research; from brief to debrief and all the bits in between! I’m also part of our SwitchedOn innovation team, developing our online tools to ensure we’re always advancing their functionality in line with what our clients need.

What are your specialisms?

My sector expertise is wide-ranging and includes transport, health and staff surveys. However my main focus is on digital methodologies and deliverables.

You’ve been here for a few years. Why have you stuck around for so long?

I actually stumbled across market research over 10 years ago which must have been a good stumble as I’m still here enjoying it! I love the variety, each day is different which keeps it interesting.

How has research evolved during your career?

When I first started in research 15 years ago, it was all about pen and paper questionnaires and text heavy 100 page Word reports. The thought of completing a survey on your mobile or viewing live interactive results was unheard of! How times have changed! Where would we be today without web surveys and visual style reports and dashboards!

What’s your desert island dish?

That’s a hard choice! Definitely a dessert, I’d swap savoury for sweet every time! I’m going for chocolate orange torte.

If you could be anywhere right now, where would it be?

On a desert island eating the chocolate orange torte!

PHIL STUBINGTON

DIRECTOR

Job Description

Helping IT companies do better market research to understand what their customers are buying and most importantly integrating the results into their businesses. This involves a lot of work with their analysts and forecasting teams embedding the research data into financial and operational models, improving the accuracy of everything from their earnings forecasts to how many production lines they need. The remainder of my time is spent working with a wide variety of industrial and social research clients including Design Council, RNLI and Macmillan Cancer Support.

What’s been the most exciting project you’ve worked on?

Working with DHL in Asia as e-commerce was staring to change the logistics business fundamentally. Depth interviews in Taiwan just when it was “opening-up”; brutal climate, no signs in English, a native language you can’t read and taxi’s leaving the hotel taking a short-cut through the hospital ambulance loading bay next door. Followed by being on the last flight into Hong Kong before a typhoon closed down the airport. Having to do interviews in a café in an underground shopping mall because said typhoon made it unsafe to leave the hotel at ground level.

What is the most exciting/ rewarding task you have had to undertake?

Working on a brief for one of the largest printer manufacturers in the world to size their ink and toner supplies market after two of the largest research vendors in the world had said it couldn’t be done. Having a client to whom the research was so important that they really were willing to work and fund a partnership so we could get it right. And we did, to the extent that the project reaches its twentieth birthday this year.

Who would you want with you if you were stranded on a deserted island?

For a long time it would have been my portable DVD player. It kept me sane in year when I flew a hundred thousand miles and went to and from States almost monthly. Now I guess its tablet and Netflix subscription.

ANDREW WOOD

RESEARCH DIRECTOR

Job Description

I lead our Pensions and Regulatory Research team.

What is it about your job that gives you a real buzz?

Making a difference: I’ve helped the government shape the UK pension reforms, the end of mandatory retirement, and consumer protection regulations. Next on the agenda: pension charges!

What have been the most exciting projects you’ve worked on?

I’m lucky to have travelled from Taipei and Tokyo to Seattle and San Francisco doing research for top tech companies in the past… But not much beats the projects I’ve spent charging around the UK, talking to businesses and individuals affected by legislation, and giving them a voice.

What does your perfect day look like?

A day at Glastonbury Festival. Been to every one this century. Nothing beats a sunny afternoon with a beer, on the grass, enjoying a band that you insist to everyone you hate for the rest of the year.

Favourite author

No favourite author as such. I do read the Economist every week. It takes me so long to plough through that I have no time left at all for fiction.

What superpower would you choose?

I’d rather keep my views on international politics to myself.

What’s your favourite word?

Gelsenkirchen.

Favourite sporting team

Borussia Dortmund, the team I spent my university years supporting on the Südtribüne with a currywurst and a DAB. *Correction* Sorry – it’s Arsenal.

MARTIN WOOTTON

RESEARCH DIRECTOR

What is your role at Breaking Blue?

I design and direct our work for tech sector clients – which these days covers everything from health tech to B2B.

What are your specialisms?

Technology, health and industrial sectors. I ‘major’ in quantitative research, but I think the best quant research incorporates qual techniques.

What makes us different at Breaking Blue?

We’re not afraid to tell it like it is and challenge your thinking. Yes-men we are not. We’re also free from constraints – we’re not forced to use a particular method or partner – so that gives us the space to do our best thinking, and to come up with genuinely innovative approaches.

You’ve been here 19 years. Why have you stuck around for so long?

Several reasons: working with a great bunch of people who are bright, passionate and interesting; the sheer variety of work – no two days are the same; having the freedom to work on the latest innovations and impress clients.

What’s the biggest breakthrough you’ve made as a researcher?

Working on NPD research for the world’s first camera phone. Back in the early noughties, people said they didn’t want it – it was gimmicky – but as behavioural science tells us, they simply didn’t know they wanted it yet.

How has research evolved during your career?

It’s changed in how we collect and use data to tell our stories. A shift from phone and street interviews dominating things in the nineties, to online panels, to multi-source analytics and data fusion today.

If you could be anywhere right now, where would it be?

At the piano. Ideally with thousands of screaming fans in the background.