Congratulations to QRCA's Young Professional Award Winner: Ashleigh Williams!


Ashleigh Williams

Senior Director, Online Qualitative Research

We are proud to announce that our very own Ashleigh Williams has been awarded the Qualitative Research Consultants Association (QRCA) Young Professional Award! If you’re not familiar with QRCA, the organization is a not-for-profit association of researchers involved in the design and implementation of qualitative research. In order to qualify for this award, one’s primary professional role must consist of designing, conducting and analyzing qualitative research and that you do not work for an ad agency, manufacturer or service firm outside the research agency.

Ashleigh, who is a Senior Research Analyst here at C+R and does a bit of everything on our qualitative research team including moderating both online interactive communities and in-field studies. She’s also a part of the CultureBeat team, our multicultural research division! She is married and a new mom of a 5-month old son.

We asked our QRCA award winner a few other questions about herself. Here’s what Ashleigh had to say:

What attracted you to the Market Research industry, particularly qualitative research?

I started off in this industry wanting to create things that matter, to design for people who want their voices heard. While getting my BFA in Industrial design, I fell more in love with the process than the actual outcome. I was captivated by people’s stories; their struggles, triumphs, and how they overcome adversity in their day-to-day lives.

My introduction into Market Research took place by happenstance. While in college, my mentor who was an accredited design researcher was fascinated with how consumers relate to products and I became passionate about how consumers live their day-to-day lives and what we as designers and creators can do to make their lives easier. Little did I know that I had the spirit of a qualitative researcher in my blood all along! I have always been an advocate for breaking cultural stereotypes and having empathy for all people which I feel is essential particularly in qualitative research. I was and still am fascinated by the history of different types of people and how it impacts their cultural relationships with the world around them.

My interest in cultural relevance in research is what brought me here. Being one of a few African American market researchers, I’m most passionate about how culture influences and effects daily life. In addition to this, how brands and companies can speak and relate to people of all nationalities and cultures (even those that rarely have a voice) and most importantly the universal truths that bind us together. In the future, I would love to build on my multicultural expertise and facilitate research that really speaks to the diverse make-up of this country (and where it’s headed).

What’s the hardest thing about conducting qualitative research? How do you address that?

The hardest thing about qualitative research can be sifting through the data. We get so much richness out of our in-homes, focus groups, and online communities, that it can be hard difficult to decide what’s most interesting. However, I find revisiting the objectives really helps us focus on relevancy even if the data or a conversation we had is interesting or a favorite.

What three things do you need to be successful in this job?

  1. Patience in the process.
  2. The ability to deal with ambiguity.
  3. And the openness to let the data or consumer speak to you (not going in with any preconceived notions)

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

As a moderator it has to be “Just be you.” Let your personality shine…that’s what builds rapport and will come across as the most authentic and natural you. All moderators have their own style so embrace it!

What’s your favorite weekend activity?

Spending play time with my son. I’m a new mom and spending time with him makes it all worthwhile Also any ounce of “me-time” I cherish…time at the gym with friends or brunch with my husband are things I look forward to.

What your favorite karaoke song?

It would have to be Just Dance (by Lady Gaga) – karaoke is all about the party so it would have to be a dancing hit from me to lift the energy in the room!

If you were an animated character, who would you be and why?

I would be Nala from the Lion King. The Lion King is one of my all-time favorite Disney movies and Nala is a strong-willed yet kind-hearted character which I would love to think of myself as.

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