An interview with MRS Events & Awards Manager John Bizzell, and Katariina Hannelius, Founder of Hannelius Recruitment.
The much loved Oppies is coming up on Thursday 29th September.
Find out more: www.mrs.org.uk/awards/oppies
Interview and intro by Betty Adamou, Associate Talent Director, Hannelius Recruitment
Cast your mind back many years ago, before the Oppies began.
It was a dry, desolate place in Market Research, where those doing the important operational work were *splutters* not recognized in the industry, if you can believe!
But lo! What started out as a small conversation (“shouldn’t we recognize the role of operations in the market research industry?”) became a full-on award ceremony with the Market Research Society, and one of the most loved and popular events in the market research calendar.
Since joining Hannelius Recruitment, I learned that our Founder, Katariina Hannelius, had an important role to play in those early days of planting the idea about the awards. The following interview with Katariina Hannelius and John Bizzell shares a bit about how the idea took off, highlights from past events, and a look to the future of the Oppies.
1.Tell the readers a bit about yourself
This October I will have been at MRS (Market Research Society) for sixteen years. That won’t be a surprise to a lot of people in the sector, who may not remember a time before my badgering emails about events, awards, and all the other MRS activities I’ve had a hand in, but my friends are constantly bemused that I haven’t changed jobs every couple of years like most of them. What can I say? I love it!
Our leadership team are supportive and I feel listened to, and my colleagues are some of my closest friends. Ultimately though, researchers tend to be people who are interested in other people and producing events for them feels rewarding and worthwhile.
As well as managing member events and our various awards schemes, in recent years I’ve also become heavily involved in our EDI initiatives – in particular starting MRSpride with Michael Brown. We launched before the pandemic, survived and thrived during it, and have just delivered our first half-day LGBTQ+ insight summit.
Working with the MRSpride team and looking at the content we’ve created is a true highlight of my career.
Hi! I am Katariina and started recruiting in Market Research back in 2004 and for years focused purely on Operational, Sales, Programming, Project Management, Data Processing types of roles. This is when I got involved with Research Club and also enjoyed many of various MRS Field Conferences and got to know the Operations side of MR well. Since setting up Hannelius Recruitment I have also ventured in recruiting for Full Service Research roles.
I absolutely love working in the Market Research industry; it’s an industry full of good people, and they are always a joy to see at our various events throughout the year. I also love meeting new people, and of course putting candidates in the right role, where both the candidate and client are happy, is still incredibly rewarding, even to this day.
2. How did the Oppies get started?
My very first MRS event was the 2006 Awards Dinner. I think from that night until the Oppies launched in 2014 someone asked me why the field side of the sector wasn’t celebrated in the same way at every event we had. What changed in that time was Katariina.
MRS exists to protect and promote research, but we’re a non-profit organisation and we have to make sure the sector will financially support any new initiative we implement. When Katariina suggested we launch some awards for research operations, I said we could only do it if we could find the money to fund it. We started with just four categories and Katariina found me seven sponsors. We chose a bar in Shoreditch to host the first ceremony, who told us the maximum capacity was 200. I thought we might get half that. We ended up squeezing 204 people in there, you could barely move. I’m sure there were enough people outside not to convene any fire regs, but it was a definite eye opener that the ops side of the sector wanted to celebrate their work, wanted an event, and would support it.
“When Katariina suggested we launch some awards for research operations, I said we could only do it if we could find the money to fund it. Katariina found me seven sponsors. We chose a bar in Shoreditch to host the first ceremony, who told us the maximum capacity was 200. I thought we might get half that. We ended up squeezing 204 people in there, you could barely move.”
A Few people in the industry had been saying at the normal MRS Award events that there was a gap regards the Operations side and it was wonderful to see how open MRS was into looking at this. We knew all needed to start small, and with passion and loads of love from the MR world things got into action pretty quickly. That was back in 2014. I loved working closely with MRS on making it all happen! And so pleased to see how the Oppies have grown over the years.
3.What have some of the Oppies highlights been over the years?
I’m not sure I can commit some of the true highlights to print! Let’s say this, the Oppies is a wild night out. I think it’s probably the best party MRS runs in terms of people genuinely celebrating each other’s successes and just having a bloody good time. Something I will share, because most people will never see it, is the real pride the judges take in their work. Year on year they remark on how the ingenuity and passion of the entrants is something the sector must shout about – quality, ethical, innovative operations are the heart of the research process. End of!
Seen the “hidden” gems of people/companies/teams being celebrated for the wonderful work they do and feeling valued!
And of course, an upcoming highlight is presenting the Best Data Collection – Quantitative award! We are sponsoring this award, and the finalists are Cobalt Sky, Face Facts Research, Lifestream, Rep Data & Wunderman Thompson and Savanta, Fineline MR & Leeds Building Society. We wish them all the best of success!
“Hannelius Recruitment are sponsoring the Best Data Collection – Quantitative award! The finalists are Cobalt Sky, Face Facts Research, Lifestream, Rep Data & Wunderman Thompson and Savanta, Fineline MR & Leeds Building Society. We wish them all the best of success!”
4. How would you like to see the Oppies grow in the future?
The categories have expanded several times – we started with four and this year we’ll present ten. I’d definitely like to see more entries for some of those – particularly the Best Sustainable Operations Award, which should be something everyone is thinking about – but we’ll also be announcing another new category for 2023 at this year’s event. And of course I’d like to see more people coming along to see the winners recognised on stage – yes, it’s a great night out for ops teams, but clients and business leaders should be there too.
To keep evolving with the times, as they have been.
John, if someone wants to submit a nomination for the Oppies in the future, how can they do that?
We’ll open for entries in March, so they can’t do much until then, but feel free to contact me and I’ll make sure you’re notified when things kick off.
And Katariina, how can people contact you if they want to connect during the Oppies?
Just come and say hello! I love to meet new people and always catch up with old friends from MR.
My colleagues Betty Adamou, Maria, and Rhys will be at the Oppies too, so get in touch with them as well! If you want to tell me you’ll be at the Oppies and want to make sure we get a chance to chat, send me a message on Linked In or email me at email@example.com.
Thank you both John and Katariina for your time today!
We very much look forward to the MRS Operations Awards and see you there!
The Operations Awards will take place on Thursday 29th September.
Find out more: www.mrs.org.uk/awards/oppies
You can follow tweets and photos by following #Oppies on social media, or why not follow @TweetMRS or John Bizzell himself at @John_Bizzell on Twitter?