Research Legend, Sharon Mutter, PRC, Announces Retirement

Sharon Mutter Field Sources, Inc. in Carmel, Indiana closed its doors January 1, 2015 as Sharon begins her retirement. Sharon has been an active and vital member of MRA for 32 years. In addition to receiving the Honorary Lifetime Membership Award in 2005, Sharon also received MRA’s Award of Excellence in 1997, Distinguished Service Award in 1999, and the Great Lakes Chapter Service Award also in 1997.

Sharon served in every board position with the Great Lakes Chapter as well as serving throughout her career on several MRA national committees. She was the chair of the original MRA vendor exposition, and also started the MRA buddy program at national conferences. Sharon began her marketing research career at Walker Research (now known as Walker Information) in Indianapolis in 1979, and was the national field director until opening Sharon Mutter Field Sources in 1994. 

Sharon has made hundreds of friends throughout her years of service and will continue those friendships in her retirement. (Some of the people, to name but a few, who she considers to have been integral to her career in marketing research include: Frank Walker, Ann Cox, Joan Garvey, Chris Everett, Emily Barber, Priscilla Kamrath, Audry Bowen, Patrick Galloway, Elisa Galloway, Jane Reckner, Susan Taylor, Leonard Homer, Ruth Nelson, Judy Hominy, Christine Adams, Howard Gershowitz, Don Marek, Mimi Nichols, Linda Tessar, Susan Adelman, Ellen Gregory, Colleen Moore-Mezler, Merrill Shugoll, Liz Bloom, Anndel Martin and Jerry Carter.) She would particularly like to thank the Great Lakes Chapter for 32 wonderful years of being a member and for allowing her to be its president in 1994 and to serve as an advisor to the board for over 10 years.

Sharon will be saying her final farewell at MRA’s June ISC conference in San Diego, so please take the time to wish her well. (You can’t miss her as she’ll be riding that now famous red scooter!) She will certainly be missed, but MRA and many long-time supporters wish her a wonderful retirement, filled with health and happy days. We reached out to only a small smattering of her many industry friends who, in turn, wanted to share some special memories and thoughts:

Don Marek, former executive director, Marketing Research Institute International (MRII):

“Sharon is one of my dearest MRA friends. In 1997, when I was President-Elect of MRA, Sharon asked me to place her on the November MRA Board Agenda right before its Fall Conference in Baltimore, MD. Sharon wanted to present an offer to run a Great Lakes Chapter-like trade show for MRA at its two big conferences. (Having gotten in the way of her campaign for an expanded Alert! at the previous Spring Conference, I wisely agreed to sponsor her request.)  At the Board meeting, Sharon’s proposal was simple – she and other Great Lakes Chapter volunteers would run a table-top trade show for MRA at its national conferences. All trade show work would be done by volunteers and the exhibit hall would make money for MRA. For reasons I still do not understand, the staff opposed Sharon’s proposal. However, Sharon and I were able to convince the Board that an exhibit hall was a good idea. As a result, MRA had its first exhibit hall and Sharon and I became friends for life. Sharon is a very good and persuasive MRA member. Once at a conference, I was in a group that got into a cab with a very surly cabbie. Sharon sat in the front seat and I could see her thinking about ways to win the cab driver over. In our 10-minute ride, Sharon gently prodded the driver into a discussion. By the time we arrived at our destination, the cab driver seemed convinced that she was his best friend. The marketing research industry and I will miss Sharon Mutter. In fact, I will use my Indi-500 bucket list item as an excuse to see her. I encourage all of you to do the same thing.

Patrick Galloway, vice president consulting services and Elisa Galloway, president, Galloway Research Services:

“If anyone can be called the Queen Mother of Fielding, it is Sharon Mutter. To a generation of researchers Sharon has exemplified the best qualities one could ask for in a client. She was tough and demanding when it came to meeting her clients’ expectations. She brought out the best in us. She was also insightful and understanding when it came to firsthand experience with the challenges faced by her field partners. For those of us who worked with her, she was a kindred spirit. Sharon’s cheerfulness, intelligence, wit and unflappable enthusiasm have made her the Sara Lee of the MRA…nobody doesn’t like Sharon Mutter.’ Cheers to you, Sharon, on a distinguished and fruitful career. May your home always be too small to hold all the people who love you.”

Susan Adelman, president, Adelman Research Group – A SurveyService Company:

“At many MRA conferences, you could see me as well as others looking for Sharon Mutter, holder of the blue GLC wheels to get our cherished wheel to stick on our badges to show that we were proud members of the Great Lakes Chapter of MRA. The challenge was finding Sharon, who was always on the move, but all you had to do was look for a crowd of people and there she would be, happily handing out the blue GLC Wheel. 

Nothing kept Sharon back, not even attending MRA meetings in a wheelchair after her various knee or hip surgeries. She was always there with the same energy, greeting everyone with her warmth and smile.

I had the pleasure of working with and learning from Sharon since she was with Walker Research. That continued after she founded her own company on both a professional and volunteer level.

Sharon has always been the consummate research professional, always willing to share her knowledge and help others. Sharon has made her mark on the research industry, a mark that will remain intact for a very long time, just as did the blue GLC wheel we stuck on our badges, reminding us of Sharon, her example, and her committment to the Great Lakes Chapter, the industry and MRA.”

Merrill Shugoll, PRC, president, Shugoll Research:

“I was taught that the key to professional success is finding a mentor and an inspiration. For me, I found both in the great Sharon Mutter. She freely passes on her wisdom about the biz to others, she shows dedication to our professional associations, particularly the MRA and, most importantly, she encourages all of us with kindness and her magnificent smile to achieve our very best. In short, she has been a fantastic mentor and inspiration for me as well as all my colleagues! Congrats on your retirement Sharon!”