Where did you grow up?
In central Cuba, in a town called Santa Clara. I left Cuba in 1993 and since then I lived in Sweden for six years and have been in the Dallas area for 18 years, where I live with my husband of 25 years and my son, who will soon turn 12.
Where did you go to school?
I have a BS/MS in Psychology from Havana University, an MS in Marketing, Advertising, and PR from Stockholm University, and an MS in Market Research from University of Texas in Arlington.
What did you want to be “when you grew up”?
I wanted to be a writer. I was born in Prague, and when I landed in Cuba I didn’t speak any Spanish, so I still remember I had many typos as I learned to write. What really helped me to write correctly was reading. I read a lot. I ran out of books to read from our local library. I went from children’s books, young literature, detective novels, classic literature, poetry, all way up to non-fiction philosophical volumes (think Sartre). After so much reading, I was enamored with the idea of being a writer some day.
What are some of your favorite things? Reading is still my favorite hobby, followed by travel and watching movies.
Why did you get involved in marketing research?
I like to understand human behavior at a large scale, and find the influence of marketing fascinating. In completing my Psychology degree from Havana University, I did my thesis in the area of social psychology related to the effect of mass media. Then I worked at the research department of the Cuban Institute of Radio and TV until I emigrated to Sweden. Commercial advertising was not allowed on TV or radio in Cuba, so I discovered marketing and marketing research while studying at Stockholm University. It was the closest to what I had done research-wise in Cuba, so I ended up working at Sweden’s largest research company at the time (SIFO), which is now part of TNS. Then, I was able to consolidate my knowledge in marketing research when I came to the U.S. while pursuing my masters in Marketing Research at UTA. I've been involved with marketing research since 1997.
What led you to join the Insights Association in general and the Southwest Chapter in particular?
This is a very good organization. I like how it represents our profession and the educational opportunities it offers. The Southwest Chapter is a friendly group. I really enjoy meeting everyone each year at the annual conference.
What's the best thing about your current job?
Variety and constant learning, which helps with brain health. Since 2007 when I founded Relevant Insights, I have had clients in many different industries, which keeps it interesting. I have been involved in different types of research from concept testing, new product development, customer satisfaction and brand tracking, market segmentation, pricing research to user experience and usability testing in a wide range of categories including alcoholic beverages, snack food, restaurants, hotels, home improvement, jewelry, makeup, telecom, utilities, transportation, software, and many more. Another source of variety are the projects’ scope and approaches. I can do both qual and quant, so one project may include a simple survey, while another may be have a qual phase followed by a conjoint analysis, MaxDiff, or market segmentation. I also touch all phases of a project, which makes it harder to get bored doing the same thing all the time.
Things that drive you nuts?
Badly designed surveys
Want to be in the Southwest Chapter Spotlight? Contact Ellen Pieper at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Originally published on the Southwest Chapter website on June 12, 2017.)