Working at Zinklar: Rhys Clements

Anna Raventós

Change in the industry and how it affects the future of Research

In this series, we will be making short interviews with a few key members of the Zinklar team, in which they share some of the experiences they’ve had throughout their careers, as well as some they’ve had while a part of the team. Today is the turn of Rhys Clements, our Research & Customer Success Manager for Europe. 

Tell me a bit about yourself, what did you do before coming to Zinklar?

So before Zinklar, I was working at Ipsos, a traditional research company, in Geneva, Switzerland. I started in the Marketing team, where we did a lot of innovation (product, concept, idea testing), and ‘Market understanding’ (U&A, barriers, and drivers, understanding what the consumer was going for). We worked with FMCG and later I started dealing with pharma clients. It was a nice start to my career, where I was learning all the basics.

Later on, I moved to the Public Affairs section of the company. Since we were in Geneva, a hub for the UN and lots of other international organizations, that was where I started talking to government offices doing social research, and public affairs; it was a completely different client. It was a much slower process directed to a different market, which meant the work was a lot less automated but much more detailed and with less pressure timewise. I did that for three and a half years and then joined Zinklar from there.

You picked up the pace again, and then some.

Exactly, yes, I mean there are pros and cons to both kinds of research.

What are the most notable changes you saw between a large company like Ipsos and a startup workplace, besides the pace?

In terms of research, it’s interesting to see how quick Zinklar is. Honestly, there are times when you feel like banging your head against the wall in a big company because things take so long, and there are so many different teams, and simple tasks turn into really long, complicated things.

Whereas here we are doing stuff in minutes or hours that would take days to do. And not just fieldwork, but also setups, reporting, and monitoring the field, like all the steps through it are so much quicker and more organized, and that’s so energizing to work with. You can make actions happen quickly, changes happen quickly, and clients obviously happier because you are able to adapt, and make changes faster.
Coming back to Marketing and communication and research, that dynamic aspect is really important.

Must be interesting from your point of view, because you’ve been on the other side.

Yeah! Traditional agencies are there for a reason, they do good work. And the research is still good research, it just takes longer, number one, and I feel like where we are with Zinklar is where all research needs to be within an organization.

The decision-making process can be much quicker and more frequent, whereas in a traditional agency everything takes months, and it can lead to a bit of friction sometimes. You are trying to work with something and provide something without the tool to do it, in a big agency. Do you know when there’s a push for a deadline? And here I can say that we can do it, I can program, I can launch. There, we would say the same thing and then go ‘Ok, we have a big pain’, and then you would need to get several people aligned, maybe we can’t end up doing it, and people would be disappointed.

What is the most challenging thing you noticed?

My biggest challenge I think is the demand that we work within the team here, because we are all capable researchers, it’s just that we have a lot of clients doing a lot of research, and it must get done quickly. Basically, we get a lot more requests coming in. That was for me the biggest challenge, thinking I have to work on something, and then having to switch to another request in a very short time.

I imagine you get plenty of different requests. How can it go, usually?

We always try to find a solution for the client. So if one of our clients comes up and says ‘We want to test this concept, and also we have this amount of different images, and this number of different claims, and we want them to be seen in rotation, for example, that’s when we come in, think  ’ok, we need to start simple and efficient to get the results. Let’s take a look at your brief, ok, how do we make this more simple, streamline it?’ and then maybe do two projects instead of one big one, or, as we are a mobile-only platform, we need to make sure it works for mobile consumers.
So, whereas before (in another company) we would have taken a brief and said ‘Yes, we can do it, here you need to help clients adapt to this new way of working, and that can be a challenge.

So, like guiding them through the process?

Exactly. So in the first weeks (of the onboarding process for clients), it’s about learning this new way of doing it. And I think that is still a challenge today. In fact, especially with new clients, or on sales calls, pitches, and demos, I think that is the challenge for the whole company, not just the Research department: we have to get people to work a bit differently, to move away from these complex and long research processes and be more simple and efficient.

Show them there’s another way of working.

Yes, because some companies have been doing research the same way for twenty years or more. So part of the process we do is explaining that there is a more cost-efficient and faster way of doing it if you just change a bit the way you work. 

Make them see the advantages of something they haven’t tried before, but, that you from your position can see the results, the potential.

Exactly, help people do that. And that is probably what we do a lot of the time in Research, helping them adapt their briefs and their designs to the platform, and to make it work. Sometimes the whole research strategy, the whole plan, just needs a big input on our side.

Wow, so it can affect whole strategies?

Yeah, because as we mentioned, many clients have been doing research the same way for a while, so they have a very clear idea of what and where it works best to do, for example, a monthly tracker.

You would switch it up?

Right, we can say talk about how we can do it in a much shorter period, or a shorter questionnaire, we can go at different times, etc., and change it a little bit.

Open up the possibilities for them.


How do you usually get to that?

It’s definitely a challenge to get people to think differently. But it’s nice when it works and when a client goes ‘Oh, yeah, we can do this now, and you’re like ‘Yep! We can try it. And then they are on board, they’ve got it now.

You show them the new path.

Although it’s not always so straightforward.

Well, you can say it’s a work in progress

Yeah, it can go that way sometimes. In the end, the goal is for people to be so comfortable with the platform that they basically want to have full control of the project for themselves. If it’s an ad-hoc thing we are happy to help, but the idea is to not need someone from the team in every step since it’s a platform intended to be used by everyone.

So I think, again, that for the company, that is the challenge: how do we help them adapt their research to be closer to the consumer?

That’s really cool, that you enjoy the sharing part.

It’s the part of the job I like the most: helping them with their questions and then seeing them launch their own projects by themselves.

So you’re basically a teacher, deep down?

Yeah, I really like it. Another thing I really like about Zinklar is the structure, that you can connect with anyone in the company immediately and directly.

Oh, do you want to tell me a bit about that?

Well, the way we impact the tool is really positive. I can sit with Jonathan (our Product Manager) and tell him what’s working and what isn’t. Or a client has this idea, and then if it makes sense we can actually make it happen. That’s really a very cool thing because it feels like everyone in the company is inputting into the direction, you know?

If there is someone who knows what the client needs, it’s you.

Or not even for a client, if there’s something that we need from the team you feel like you can make the change, that you got some say in it. And this is really nice about working in Zinklar, I think.

That you can see your own impact from your place, right?

Yeah, this is a nice thing about working here.

Well, thank you so much for your time, and thank you for sharing your story with Zinklar.

Want to learn more about the Zinklar team? You can meet the team on the dedicated page on our website.

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