Editor’s Note: The following interview features a GreenBook Future List honoree, Dr. Jessica Wong. The GreenBook Future List recognizes leadership, professional growth, personal integrity, passion, and excellence in the next generation of consumer insights and marketing professionals within the first 10 years of their careers.


Introducing Dr. Jessica Wong

Dr. Jessica is a Senior Director of Research at Paramount, supporting the digital division across Entertainment, Sports, and News. Her research incorporates various quantitative and qualitative methodologies to guide product development, position Paramount in the ad marketplace, and inform business strategy. Her projects include thought leadership, audience profiling, competitive intelligence, and ad effectiveness. Prior to Paramount, Jessica was a researcher at an insights firm in NYC. She received her Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from the University of Chicago and published several peer-reviewed journal articles. Jessica enjoys applying her research training and knowledge of the human mind and behavior to uncover consumer insights that lead to innovative business solutions.


Since starting your career in market research, what would you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?

My greatest accomplishment was having my market research findings for the international launch of CBS All Access (now Paramount+) being read by executive leadership to inform the launch. One of the reasons why I left academia for industry was to conduct research that had more real-world impact. Seeing that my industry research was used by my company’s leadership was very rewarding.

 

If you could go back in time to when you first started your career, what advice would you give to your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to get as much work experience as you can, even if that means freelancing or volunteering in the industry. Coming from an academic background and trying to land that first job, recruiters frequently told me that I was overqualified and under-experienced. Once I started working in market research, I had to learn the industry from scratch and work my way up. An internship or other relevant work experience while in school would have improved my chances in the job market and given me a headstart in the early phase of my career.

 

If you could change one thing about the insights industry, what would it be?

Making insights more discoverable and shareable. There are many companies and individuals who create new methods and have valuable insights, but finding the latest developments based on topic or category isn’t always the easiest, regardless of whether the reports are free or behind a paywall. Research aggregator sites help, but they don’t capture everything.

 

What are your market research predictions for the near future?

The industry is going to be more inclusive of data from multiple sources to create a larger, more holistic view of the consumer than what is already available. I think there will be more research solutions around cross-platform behaviors: TV viewership, digital traffic, streaming, social media, geolocation, credit card spend, advertising exposures, etc. Tying these trackable behaviors with self-reported survey data will provide deeper insights than any single platform or few platforms alone. Furthermore, automation will continue to evolve and help us to get insights even faster.

 

How did you get your start in insights? Did you know that this is what you wanted to do, or did you fall into it?

I knew I wanted a career in research ever since my second year of college, when I took a biopsychology class and was drawn to the data-driven approach to measure human behavior. Soon after, I was an undergraduate research assistant in two psychology research labs and completed a National Science Foundation undergraduate research internship. These experiences inspired me to get a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology (neuroscience minor) to become a professional, independent researcher. Near the end of graduate school, I wanted to do research that had more real-world implications, and market research was a natural fit.

 

Do you have a mentor or role model who has made a large impact on your career? If so, who? In what way did they make an impact?

I was fortunate to have several mentors who helped me at different stages of my career. I was mentored by the former EVP of CBS News Digital. We met early on in my career at ViacomCBS and she was pivotal in showing me the aspects of market research that senior managers are interested in for their business needs. She also showed me how to present research that senior management would find useful.

I was also mentored by the VP of Monetization and Insights at ViacomCBS. As I started working with more senior leaders and managed a team of my own, she taught me how to leverage my research skillset to build bridges with other teams. This enabled me to collaborate cross-functionally, maximize the research team’s visibility and influence at the company, and be a better people manager of my direct reports.

In school, Dr. David Gallo was my Ph.D. advisor at the University of Chicago, and he mentored every step of my journey to becoming a research professional. Dave’s training covered all aspects of conducting quantitative primary research from start to finish and this foundation set me up for success in the industry. I wouldn’t be the researcher I am today without his continual guidance and constructive feedback.



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