Editor’s Note: The following interview features a GreenBook Future List honoree, Giovanna Fortuna. 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 Giovanna Fortuna
Giovanna is a Senior Data Analyst specializing in using Python and Excel to extract data and make sense of unstructured datasets. Since joining Big Sofa (winners of MRS’ Research Live Award for Innovation of the Year 2021), she has led the evolution of the company’s data offer to develop industry-first data points through the application of advanced analytics to behavioral data. She has six years of experience delivering insights to financial services and consumer goods clients, having worked at the Gerson Lehrman Group and at Streetbees.
Since starting your career in market research, what would you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
Being nominated for GreenBook Future List, no doubt! It’s my greatest accomplishment professionally and personally. Having transitioned from a literary academic, to a quant project manager, to a data analyst, I’ve allowed myself to change my mind and stay curious, even when it felt scary to do so. It’s allowed me to discover new insights I never would’ve thought I’d come across and power changes in a variety of markets. On top of that, I still get to read awesome books at night and talk about them over the weekend – turns out they too make for great data!
If you could go back in time to when you first started your career, what advice would you give to your younger self?
I’d tell my younger self that “no one is going to look after you as well as you can”. Understanding and learning to respect your own rhythms, preferred ways of working, and areas of development are as much of a personal quest as they are a professional one.
What do you consider to be key characteristics or qualities of a leader? How does this play into market research?
Humbleness and vision. Humbleness, to zoom out of circumstances with an open and absorbing mind. Vision, to then zoom in and execute in order to move towards the goal and win trust along the way. In my view, particularly in market research, a great leader’s vision is anchored in finding great insights for clients, and humbleness allows for them to identify new opportunities.
If you could change one thing about the insights industry, what would it be?
Whilst the insights industry talks a lot about innovation, they still spend the majority of their budgets on traditional approaches. We have access to all sorts of exciting data streams, thanks to mobile and I-o-T technology, but the industry seems shy to expand into these domains. I would challenge the industry to step outside of its comfort zone.
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 fell into insights organically. During my Master’s year, I came across an internship posting looking for someone to research industries across the world for a financial services company. It sounded interesting, it paid well, and I could use my language skills, so I applied and my world burst open! Through the experience, I realised I knew nothing about pretty much everything. I consider my first job to be a second undergraduate degree, where I learned how things work and how to make sense of them.
What is something you’ve built or launched that you’re proud of?
I’m most proud of our out-of-home analytics. In summer 2021, we observed in-store consumer behaviour in fast-food locations to aid our client’s research on store design and UX. This type of project was the first of its kind for Big Sofa. I’m proud of how we overcame all of the logistical hurdles (from theft to a collapsing ceiling); I am grateful for the many productive discussions that helped me quantify customer behaviours; and I am proud of creating a rich dataset that revealed pain points hidden in plain sight.