From market research in Madrid to ESOMAR in Manhattan

HST alum Ana María Aldana completed the Master in Market Research & Consumer Behavior. It took her to a global conference in the Big Apple. Find out how.

This June, the then market research student Ana María Aldana flew across the world to represent IE at the ESOMAR Client Summit in Manhattan, New York City. We sat down with her to discuss what she got out of the event, and how she feels it has impacted her professional career.

Originally from Guatemala, Ana recently graduated from IE School of Human Sciences & Technology (HST) with the Master in Market Research & Consumer Behavior. She previously worked as a Brand Manager for leading companies like Colgate before deciding to “expand and update [her] knowledge” with HST.

Attending the June 2019 ESOMAR Client Summit was the perfect way to end her time at HST. 

“It was the perfect conclusion to put everything I had learned together from a business and professional perspective,” she says.

What’s ESOMAR?

But what exactly is ESOMAR, and what was the aim of the summit? The international organization represents the interests of the market research community on a global level, and regularly organizes conferences for industry professionals. 

«Twas an exhilarating new event highlighting a collection of the best client-side practices,” Ana tells us. “It aims to bring together the research community to be inspired by—and learn about—the latest techniques from leading global brands, from AI to machine learning to blockchain.”

Ana gained a wealth of insights from the conference, deepening her understanding of the digital world. 

“Most importantly, I learned about how embracing digital technologies is helping companies to become faster, more efficient, and more effective to drive more impact in their organization,” she explains.

And this is clear in recent developments across industries today. In fact, the market intelligence firm IDC predicts that international spending on digital transformation will reach $1.7 trillion by the end of 2019, increasing by 42% since 2017. Professionals will have to embrace the digital era if they wish to climb the career ladder.

“Other key insights included the importance of gaining in-depth perspective on what it takes to harness new data,” she adds. “And how thinking outside the box and adapting to niche markets can bring deeper insight and new innovation, and change the global narrative.”

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The next chapter

All of this has prepared Ana for her next professional journey after HST. 

“It’s helped me understand the current trends and challenges the industry is facing, and also to showcase how we, as researchers, can bring value to the industry,” she elaborates. “Besides that, I also gained key pointers on how to be bold when presenting research outcomes; every speaker really engaged the audience and were highly skilled in storytelling.”

In fact, these very speakers and their diverse backgrounds were key to the success of the summit. From Microsoft and BBC World Service to NBC Universal and PepsiCo, attendees were able to learn from leading experts across a vast range of top-tier companies and organizations.

“The speakers were from very different industries, which made it even more interesting,” Ana continues. “One of the presentations that struck me the most was about Microsoft’s experience with implementing a system that gains AI-enabled insights about customer experience drivers from detailed text feedback.”

Next steps in AI

Other up-and-coming software was also presented at the summit, giving attendees unique insight into what’s to come in the world of digital transformation. Ana learned about how “traditional techniques are now being automated, such as open-question analytics and virtual qualitative studies that are supported by AI to simplify analysis in real time.”

She found The Remesh Platform particularly interesting. “It lets you have a conversation with a live audience, where you can ask open-ended questions, and then it analyzes and segments the verbatim participants’ responses in real time,” Ana reveals.

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The summit was also a great opportunity for Ana to expand her international network. “Speakers, as well as attendees, were very welcoming,” she says. “I was able to make and keep contact with most of them after the event. I have no doubt they will be a great source of advice and guidance in my future career path.”

Ultimately, Ana came away from the conference with a host of cutting-edge insights, an enhanced global network, and a deeper understanding of the domain of digital transformation—all of which will prove invaluable as she continues to grow professionally. 

“Attending these kinds of events are a way to assess our knowledge and bring us closer to the field,” she concludes. “I strongly encourage future students and professionals to engage with the right professional community.»