Who you are, what is your position and how did you get to where you are now?
My name is Mark Speed and I am the Joint Managing Director Research, IFF Research. In total there are two Managing Directors - Jan Shury who is responsible for the internal management of IFF and I am the external face for IFF.
I started as a Graduate Trainee Researcher at MORI in 1988 and became a partner within six years of joining. Whilst there, I developed the social research side within a number of areas, including health, young people and hard to reach audiences such as drug users and the homeless. A key area that I developed and grew in my time there was brand and communications within public sector. In 2000, I felt that it was time for a new challenge, and after a year at a small company, the opportunity to join IFF as a Director came along and it felt the right move and fit for me.
I was brought in to IFF in March 2001 to help expand and develop their client base within the public sector, and my focus was on health research and brand and communications for the public sector, an area that was successful very quickly after no traction previously in this market at IFF. There was a change in the senior management at the end of 2007, opening the doorway for Jan and myself to step into the Managing Director posts. I still maintain a major role within developing business and delivering the work to clients, whilst running the business in a joint capacity.
Can you give us some more details on your company, what are the different divisions/ where are your offices and what's the overal headcount?
We are a professional, independent research agency, servicing the public sector and providing an ad hoc and flexible approach to research.
We have seven sectors Business and Enterprise, Branding Marketing and Communications, Financial Services (a key private sector offering), Learning and Skills, Employment and Benefits, Health and Well being and Regulation.
There are 12 Research Directors, and each Director typically works over at least 2 sectors given the overlap that is inherent in some. We have 30 researchers and we offer a fluid working environment with them working in a range of sectors, although expertise develops over time as they get more senior.
All of our services are in house and we have 130 CATI booths in our recently refurbished offices. All, sampling, scripting, DP, coding and project management is all done on site too.
IFF is located in Old Street/Shoreditch - a fantastic location that attracts a strong talent pool across all of our business areas, helping us secure highly qualified talent in all our teams , as well as a good mix of multi lingual interviewers.
We pride ourselves in being an ad hoc agency, that can provide tailor made solutions to our clients.
Although we are not governed by products, we do offer some of the few SME Omnibus services in the UK, as well as a Student Leavers research product.
How do you position yourselves? What is your organisation successful at and why?
We are an independent agency, that is flexible and has everything in- house. This allows us to have full control over all aspects of our projects.
We are methodologically neutral, and this means that as we do not have products or certain methodological approaches to push into the market place. We can recommend what is genuinely best suited to each client - meeting their needs to the full. We have built up an excellent service delivery over time, and we are now on nearly all the major government frameworks.
Describe your company culture – what do you look for what recruiting top performers?
Our company culture is professional and friendly. We like ambitious, diverse and intelligent people. Although we have a laid back feel around the office, we have extremely high standards and everyone working there is committed to achieving them. We like to hire people who have interests outside of work as well. It is an open and friendly place, where everyone’s opinion is respected. People strive to deliver top quality work but also enjoy the social elements of the company. Once a quarter we have “Friday club” in the company, where we finish at lunch time and take everyone out for lunch. Once a year we have team day, off site where we support charitable projects and giving back to the community.
What do you see as the key challenges / developments in 2014? What are your predictions in your market?
Build up to the election. For 2014 we are quite confident, it’s shaping up well. In 2015 with the election no one knows what will happen, and it will be a year to be focused on manage and utilise our flexibility to meet any new challenges.
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