One Year In

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Our Thoughts
  • by Joe Hartung

On the recent occasion of my first anniversary of working at SEEK Company, I took some time to reflect upon what was a very strange and tough year. And, in a clear case of scope creep, I couldn’t help but consider where my career began and what led me to join SEEK in the first place, which included working with SEEK in my past work life as a client. This exercise in reflection led me to a few lessons.

First, quick background…

My career began in a very specialized quant role within marketing measurement. With every role change since, I have sought to move towards a wider focus to learn more about marketing and market research. In this progression, a major move was the shift from analytics to qualitative research. I was enamored with qualitative from my first exposure. While I love numbers and analytics, there was something about hearing feedback directly from consumers, and digging beneath the surface, that makes the resulting insights more interesting and impactful.

After working with lots of different market research suppliers, working with SEEK for the first time (2013) was a revelation because of their empathic-based approach to research. As multiple people that I worked with at the time (Brendan Noonan, Ben Feeney, Matt Reischauer, Kristina Hannant, Nicole Infortunio, and more) can attest, I couldn’t shut up about my love for their approach and their people. I hired them often, which gave me the opportunity to meet and work with lots of the great people that worked there over the years, including Lane, Ben, Emily, Ian, Ryan, Courtney, Zak, and the founder, Tim, forming relationships that last to this day. Importantly they also provided me with my first opportunity to be lead moderator of an in-depth interview, which I loved! 

My desire to continue expanding my purview led me to leave the confines of the beer industry to apply what I had learned in Analytics, Insights, Brand Management, and Innovation to other industries as a qualitative researcher, moderator, and strategist, eventually to join SEEK as a Senior Research & Innovation Consultant last January. 

In this past year with SEEK...

I experienced many of the things I was looking forward to and expected. I spent more time getting to know an amazing group of colleagues. I got to work with great clients in a wide variety of industries, including retail, travel & leisure, finance, insurance, and pharma. And, most importantly, I got to practice empathic-based marketing research which has increased my understanding of human nature and decision making.

Of course, like everyone else out there, this past year has also brought the unexpected, most prominently in the form of the pandemic that disrupted the very way we live our lives and do our research. It was great to see the organization pivot so quickly and smoothly into the new work-from-home environment and conducting virtual research. We pulled together as a team to proactively find technology solutions in order to continue providing empathetic insights to our clients. 

In addition to the pandemic, my wife and I encountered a series of setbacks in our fertility journey, which has been tremendously challenging emotionally for both of us. Thankfully, we’re managing through quite a bit of work, individually and together. One of the things that I’m most grateful for in this past year is the support I’ve received from SEEK and all of my teammates in navigating these challenges. I am unusually lucky to work for a company that lives by its values. The most important one in this case is: “Dare to love - Be empathetic, even when it is hard. People matter more than things.” 

So, here are the lessons I’ve come away with:

  • Be curious. Find what interests you & learn more. Throughout my career, I have gone out of my way to sit in on extra meetings and set up lunches with people in positions that I found interesting to learn what it takes to do those jobs. 
  • Be bold. My career moves from Analytics to Insights, Brand Management, Innovation, and Qualitative Researcher were bets I made on myself. I forewent a vertical path for a horizontal one to get into a role that aligned with my interests. Had I sat on my hands, I might be miserable, plugging away in a role that didn’t hold my interest.  
  • Be patient. I was interested in joining SEEK in 2014 and 2016, but the timing wasn’t right. Eventually, when timing aligned for both myself and SEEK, we made it work.
  • Be kind. I work for an organization that cares about their people, and this is reflected from leadership down through all the staff. And I have no doubt that I work harder because of that.
  • Be open. From the beginning of our fertility issues, my wife, Sara, and I have tried to be open (when and where it feels right), to make sure others who are going through something similar know they are not alone, and that they have a resource if they need it. This approach has netted us resources that we are able to lean on during tough times.  

As I look forward to year two with SEEK and beyond, I’m excited to continue doing what I enjoy - learning about people and helping organizations respond to their needs. I love doing this work as part of a great team and organization that lives its values.