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[PODCAST] Getting to the root of client needs through empathy

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.

Our guest on this episode of the Data Stories: Leaders at Work show is Josephine Hansom, Managing Director of YouthSight. Josephine got an early start in market research, becoming intrigued with social psychology in secondary school before studying the subject at university. After completing her Social Psychology degree at Loughborough University, she began to work at her father’s market research centre in Croydon where she was involved in all aspects of market research field work. This work helped her build her foundation in survey scripting, engaging with focus groups, and managing interviewers, all of which she has found to be quite useful as she progressed in her career.

Before long, Josephine felt that it was time to spread her wings and make her own way, so she moved to Manchester to work at a market research agency there. During her 18 months with that agency, she developed her qualitative skills and learned to truly understand the problems and needs of the client in order to help them find the information that they might not even know they were looking for. While she liked Manchester and she is grateful for her time there to come of age and establish herself in the industry, she felt the pull back to the big city and she found a job in London.

Working at GfK propelled Josephine further into the research and insights aspect of market research, though she did share her insights on field work with coworkers when necessary. During her time at GfK, she gained a lot of valuable experience in working with clients, generating leads, and authentic communication with leads and clients that has continued to serve her well. Here she was first introduced to the idea of behavioral economics and the power of conversation in needs assessments and providing creative solutions. In one of her positions there, her aim was to implement qualitative methodologies globally by understanding the nuances of other cultures. While much of market research is quantitative, Josephine has found the benefit and importance of leaning into the qualitative and empathic aspects that truly get to the root of the clients’ wants.

While she was working at GfK, Josephine earned her Master’s degree in Public Policy from Kings College, which was conveniently right across the street from her office. While she initially was unsure about the connections between public policy, social psychology, and market research, she soon found that it was a perfect fit to complement her passions and enhance her career path. The public policy degree focused on persuasion, on the best ways to tell your story that would connect best with others and steer them in the way you wanted them to go.

With this foundation in place, Josephine branched out again and became a part of the YouthSight team and eventually became the Managing Director. With its focus on youth research, the agency’s goal is to help organizations understand the Gen Z and Millennial generations on a deeper level in order to make informed decisions. One of her key outcomes at YouthSight has been the State of the Youth Nation report and tracker that has been curating data for over 5 years and allows Youth Sight to speak authoritatively in the space of youth research.

Josephine spends a lot of time mentoring younger researchers, helping them with things like time management and developing processes that she wishes she had known earlier in her career. Looking back, she also sees that she could have benefited from learning to multitask and work backwards from deadlines rather than pulling all-nighters to get everything done on time. Her advice to aspiring researchers is to be flexible, be resourceful with the techniques you employ, provide creative solutions, and never neglect the context around the data you are collecting. Josephine loves what she does, and even if money were no object, she would want to be working in a position that allows her to be around people, to find fulfillment, and to creatively solve problems.

The full version of the podcast with Josephine Hansom can be listened here: