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[PODCAST] Learning by taking risks in a safe environment

Data Stories: Leaders at Work is a weekly podcast brought to you by Audiense. Hosted by Rahul Jerome, founder of, the series captures personal anecdotes and career highlights from some of the most talented and brightest minds in the research and insights industry.

On the second episode of the Data Stories: Leaders at Work podcast, I spoke to Abigail Stuart, founding partner of insights consultancy Day One. An expert in healthcare strategy and tech management, Abigail became the youngest ever managing partner at Hall & Partners health at just 28. She now provides insights for pharmaceutical and healthcare brands.

Abigail started her career in market research around 1995. She made a conscious decision to get into market research after leaving university. With a degree in human geography, she started writing letters to firms to explain why she was so interested in working in market research. Medical research was the original one she was interested in. She was ultimately looking for something similar to a graduate kind of role. She didn’t get the job at Research International, but it cemented her goals of getting into medical research. Abigail also laments the fact that companies don’t really take on graduates like they used to, and she’s very aware of the fact that it’s difficult to break into those roles today.

For healthcare research, Abigail says that she has always really been interested in health in general. She mentions that she even still has the medical dictionary that was kept in her house as a child. “There’s always an end goal to it that feels like you’ve done something positive in the world as well.” Her experience at Hall & Partners was formative, and she really appreciates the time with them. She says the founder inspired her staff and helped her to believe in her staff because he shared all of his knowledge. He really empowered and inspired the team at Hall & Partners.

The way people learn is by taking risks in a safe environment, Abigail says. You have to relinquish the control and feeling of responsibility over every little thing to ever trust your team. But with disruption comes opportunity, she says. She started to get interested in how technology is integrated into research and insights to deliver better results and better impact. Only last year she started Day One with a partner with the mission to embrace technology in the world of research using human intelligence. Can we enhance what we already do really well, in other words.

Moving on to her family, she thought that she got her business drive from her father, but later realized it was from her mother. The business acumen is ultimately about grit and determination, which ultimately came from her mother. The resilience and determination, the penchant for trial and error, and the willingness to take and apply feedback are key to running a successful business, and Abigail is thankful for all of the mentors in her life who helped her to keenly develop those senses.

Toward the end of the episode, I fire off the rapid fun questions. Abigail says that coffee is the one thing she cannot do without. It was tea, but now coffee. To the second question, Abigail says that LinkedIn is probably the best professional tool out there. She has found that people on LinkedIn are incredibly helpful and willing to reach out with resources. She encourages every professional to grow their network. And for advice to her younger self, she says she wishes she had started her business early apart from that she has no other regrets. If money weren’t an object, she would just consult and help people to grow their business ideas, provide them with opportunities, if possible. And finally, the Day

One vision is about building big business and providing business solutions for their customers. She hopes that within five years’ time, they will have expanded into additional health markets—especially in the US a market that a healthcare company needs to really be complete.

Here is her advice to the younger professionals in the business world:

  1. Work hard. There are no shortcuts.
  2. Be nice and be fair. It will take you far.
  3. Focus on building the skills of the future. Make yourself relevant.
  4. If you want to move up quickly, always seek to exceed expectations.

The full version of the podcast with Abigail Stuart can be listened here:


About Abigail Stuart

Abigail Stuart is the Founding Partner at Day One, a healthcare insights agency. Prior to founding Day One, she launched Hall & Partners Health in 1999, which grew to be among the most successful and sought-after healthcare brands and communications research consultancies, and was the preferred agency for 9 out of 10 of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. Within Hall & Partners, Abigail launched Open Mind in 2017 as a brand and innovation consultancy.

In 2019, Abigail started Day One, and by embracing technology for gathering data and connecting with people, they have been helping their healthcare clients make better decisions.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Human Geography from the Queen Mary University of London.