My journey in the market research industry started while I was still pursuing my graduation. I started as a freelance interviewer with the sole purpose of making money, and working flexi hours was an added perk.
In order to make more money, I set up a small agency with my cousins as the first few employees and started taking up projects. As I began increasing my clientele, I slowly realized things weren’t as rosy as they seemed. The payments started getting delayed, timelines got crunched, clients wanted data faster, cheaper and quality was defined by clients as the one barely passing their protocols.
Frustrated with how things were shaping up, I spoke to my initial mentor and told him about how I felt. During this discussion, he mentioned about Market Xcel (MX), a start-up company which was focussed on quality, paid freelancers/vendors well, and on-time. Some point in 2008, I met one of the founder partners at MX (now CEO) to discuss potential work collaboration but was unsuccessful in getting any work. Perhaps destiny had planned something else for me.
As my business grew, I went on a hiring spree and recruited people who in the past, had worked with MX also. It was always refreshing to hear from them on how things used to work in MX, their culture and focus on quality, which was quite motivating and awe-inspiring.
In 2009, came the day which proved to be a turning point of my career – I got a call that I never dreamt of. MX invited me to work as a fieldwork partner for a syndicated study, which led to a meeting with another founder partner. Having heard so much about him, I was always in awe of his work. I even remembered my hands shaking while picking up the glass of water. I also remember few words from the conversation we had:
Him: Tell me your organisation’s mission and vision?
Me: (Puzzled Face)
Him: What does your organization want to become?
Me: We want to become ‘Market Xcel’!
Him: (A grin on face)
That one meeting changed my perspective towards this industry. Now, instead of making money, my focus was to earn respect. Such was his influence on me. In coming days, our relationship grew from a client-vendor to a mentor-mentee.
Under his guidance, I started adopting changes in our processes and functionality, but this also wasn’t as rosy as I imagined and the clients still persuaded quantity over quality. This eventually led to more frustration and then came the day when I chose to leave industry over compromising on my work ethics. This is where I came to meet my mentor at MX to bid him last adieu. He wanted to hear me out and after listening patiently he understood my pain and to my surprise, came his words – “come and join us”. Without any second thought, I agreed.
Life at MX gave me a broader perspective. It taught me that things are never easy. The changes we want to bring in require a lot of patience, persistence and perseverance. One needs to battle every day for the improvement; Improvement is a slow process; it may seem like a never-ending process, but you should never lose focus on why you started the journey.
Today, I feel that the turn of events has been only for the good. Now, I see things from a different perspective. I can’t say that I am capable of changing the way things move in the industry as a whole, but I certainly handle them more objectively, in a much more composed fashion, and most importantly, make a constant effort to bring the change I initially set out for.
In the journey, today I feel more matured, not only as a professional, but also as a person, and the credit goes to the people I work with. I have strong conviction for their principles. I truly believe that there are certain things which can’t be taught, but could only be imbibed by observing people around you. With the same belief, I must say, ‘the learning has just begun and I hope it never comes to an end’.
Manas Gupta, Proud Family Member