Editor’s Note: The following interview features a GreenBook Future List honoree, Natalia Infante Caylor. 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 Natalia Infante Caylor of Hola Insights
Natalia is QRCA Board of Director member, often volunteering at different market research events such as WIRe, QRCA, ESOMAR, and Insights Association. She’s former co-editor of the QRCA VIEWS magazine, and current liaison to the QRCA Board. An invited international judge for the Global 30 Under 30 Next Generation Insight Leaders Award by Opinium in London, and an invited judge for the Quirks Marketing Research and Insight Excellence Award 2022.
She’s dedicated to the industry and involved in different capacities such as QRCA 2022 and 2023 co-Chair session host, Global Qualitative Research Award volunteer, and Ambassador to First Timers at QRCA conferences. She’s earned the Thought Leader status by QRCA, and written blogs and articles about conducting research with Hispanic consumers, her expertise as a researcher. As a former university researcher, Natalia has helped several professionals transition out of academia into the insights field, as well as mentored young Hispanic professionals to develop their potential and contribute to the field. Natalia gives back to her community by volunteering at local shelters for domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking in her community.
Natalie recently published her first article with GreenBook, The Truth is You are Not the Only One Asking these Questions about Hispanics.
Outside of insights, what are your passions and interests?
I have a couple of passions and interests. I love everything related to plants and nature as well as traveling, whether is local tourism or international traveling. Learning about local cultures and getting to know people are always part of my traveling. I’ll be actually traveling to Paraguay (South America) soon and I’m looking forward to enjoying the food, time with my family, taking lots and lots of pictures, and just looking at things differently from a marker researcher’s perspective.
I’m also an advocate for issues related to domestic violence, it’s something near and dear to my heart for personal reasons. I’ve been an active volunteer, then a Board of Director member of a couple of domestic violence shelters in my community. I’m an avid learner and enjoy spending my free time reading or listening to self-help books related to mindset, entrepreneurship, etc. I don’t watch a lot of TV but when I do, it’s usually comedies, especially when it’s cold outside.
Who is your career role model or source of inspiration?
I have several career role models, but if I have to choose one I would say Susan Fader, without a doubt. She was my assigned mentor the first time I attended the QRCA conference and I didn’t know anyone. We have kept in constant contact since then, and I’m always impressed by her contributions to the MRX field (writing articles, presenting at top conferences, Board Member, ambassador, networking, mentoring, etc.). I know I can go to her for important questions, or doubts I have professionally, and that inspires me to get (more) involved in the field and to pay it forward.
I’ve also met several other exceptional career role models through QRCA and WIRe. Layla Shea was also my mentor through a WIRe program. She’s an excellent role model and entrepreneur of her growing market research firm.
From these mentors and other professionals who came into my life, I’ve learned how to be a better MRX professional, better person, and more than anything, the business side of being an independent insights professional.
When did you know you wanted to enter a career in insights, and what inspired you?
I knew I wanted to enter a career in insights after earning my PhD in early 2018. By that time, I had done extensive qualitative (and some quant too) academic research with multicultural groups across the U.S. in English and in Spanish (part-time) from moderating groups, training moderators, designing guides, recruiting, analyzing, presenting to even publishing in peer reviewed magazines. I’ve worked in big qual multicultural research projects as a consultant (part-time).
My goal upon graduation was to eventually become a tenure track professor. I was limited to a certain geographical area, and started applying to different jobs in academia with the experience I had. It was definitely a time of transitions for me. I applied and interviewed for several jobs, but shortly after, I realized I didn’t want to work in academia anymore. But, I still wanted something where I could use my research skills, use my language skills (Spanish/English), the multicultural component, and I’ve always had this entrepreneurship spirit also.
I knew I loved qual research, so I started conducting informational interviews with different professionals I connected with on LinkedIn. They were from all over the U.S., I’ve never met them before, but were professionals who were working in fields I was considering transitioning into. I only asked for 10-15 minutes of their time, and I was very strategic about the types of questions I asked them.
By the end of the 22-24 interviews I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do… be a full time MRX professional. Of course, it took more steps and research after the informational interviews. But shortly after I founded Infante Consulting, which I later rebranded into Hola Insights, where we open the door to the Hispanic market for brands. Three months after officially opening my business, I attended my first industry event, which was the QRCA annual conference.
What do you think the key characteristics or qualities of a leader are? How does this play into MRX?
I think main characteristics of a leader are, first and most importantly, integrity; having the wisdom to do the right thing especially when no one is watching. Next on my list is the vision to lead and stay focused. Communication is also very important, not only to convey ideas but also the ability to listen which should not be a surprising skill especially in market research, where we are in a constant listening mode to what consumers/participants/users and brands want and need. With so much competition among brands, I think the ability to listen and to implement changes are important. Another important characteristic of a leader is to learn to delegate and not micro-manage.
What challenges do you see facing newer MRX professionals as technology advances?
Apart from the constant changes, learning, growing and adapting will still be very important. With technological advances also come potential issues related to privacy of the consumer and other ethical dilemmas. Technology can help us in so many ways be more efficient. However, at the end of the day, the human interaction is still crucial. Keeping up with technology will still be very important. Knowing when to rely on it without forgetting about the consumer. Relying on technological advances is good as long as we keep a consumer centric framework. And, listening with empathy particularly after the entire world is re-learning how to adjust to the post-pandemic in some ways.