The facilitation component of my career began at SHR Perceptual Management, one of the industry’s leading firms in brand strategy with a global client list that included Coca-Cola, Volkswagen, Kodak and BMW Germany to name a few. I joined the firm as a Visual Strategist in their Visual Positioning department, which later I helped evolve into a larger scaled called Sensory Positioning, and this is where I spent 10 years engaged in the most exciting and influential experiences that guided and evolved my career path.
The proprietary Sensory Positioning Process contributed to strengthening existing brands and establishing new brands so that they successfully reinforced the desired marketplace perceptions. A large part of the foundation was laid in learnings from qualitative focus groups where the sensory position created would be consumer-validated.
My role in the Sensory Positioning department included designing qualitative research and discussion guides; strategizing visuals, objects or materials that would be tested in focus groups or used to facilitate discussion in brand dimension workshops; design worksheets or other interactive exercises; gather and prepare any testing stimuli used in focus groups and finally, analyzing and interpreting focus group findings.
SHR management encouraged me to pursue focus group facilitation with the goal of becoming the firm’s in-house moderator. To this end, I attended and took coursework in both Moderating and Analysis and Reporting at RIVA Training Institute in Rockville, MD. I learned quickly, and where others found the role of facilitation to be intimidating, I found it thrilling to lead groups of typically 10 participants at a time. I liked the pressure of staying on schedule, leading discussions and exercises and extracting the desired information — all while colleagues and clients were observing behind a one-way mirror. In addition to moderating groups, I also took on the role of conducting one-on-one in-depth interviews and experience audits.
After moderating hundreds of focus groups in the United States, Canada and Europe, I realized that I am extremely adaptable in working amongst varied personality types while maintaining patience during my effort to keep people focused, on task and on time. I have the strong ability to adjust my manner, appearance and speech to establish a comfort level among the focus groups that I moderate. I find this to be extremely effective and a useful skill set.