Here at GutCheck, we have some amazing people with a variety of diverse backgrounds and experiences. So we decided to sit down with them and learn more. From their work history to advice on how to be successful to their spirit animal, our spotlight series seeks to uncover all there is to know about our fellow GutCheckers.
First up is our Chief Research Officer (CRO) Renee Smith. Renee has spent more than 20 years in our industry and has some thoughtful advice and insight based on her experiences in work and life.
Prior to GutCheck
Throughout her career, Renee has been a journalist, an academic, a researcher, and though she didn’t say it herself during our interview, a leader. She left the field of academics when she didn’t get tenure—when her department determined she had not published enough. While this was a disheartening blow at the time, Renee explains it as one of the best things to happen to her. She recognized she wasn’t happy in that role and had more value to provide elsewhere.
Now, Renee loves the field of market research. Specifically, she values the structure and timing when it comes to conducting it. Within her time as a researcher, she’s worked for some of the biggest players in the space from Harris Interactive to Ipsos to Kantar. However, she found herself at GutCheck in October 2015 when she decided her true passion was helping to change the industry so that clients could make better decisions and do so more quickly.
A Fun Fact
While Renee has extensive experience in market research, she’s often worked in operations or quality control in some facet or another—just not in the typical sense we think about when it comes to statistics and methodologies. Renee’s first jobs were in agriculture. In her very first role, she worked at a Christmas tree farm where she’d pull the weeds from around the trees. Later on, she worked in a green bean canning factory on their assembly line. Her role was to ensure no grasshoppers or stones got through!
Describing What She and GutCheck Do to Those Who Aren’t Familiar with Market Research
When it comes to what GutCheck does, Renee describes us as collecting data to help companies know which advertising they should run, which concept to move forward with, and other next steps to take. But when it comes to her own role as CRO at GutCheck, it gets a little more difficult for her to describe, “There is what your job title and description says and then there are the things you do every day that are implied but never make it to the surface.”
Renee feels her hidden purpose at GutCheck is to work cross-functionally to solve problems. We would agree she does that and much more.
Achieving Success in Her Role
Renee and many of us know that experience plays a part in being successful in any role. However, Renee also feels having the ability to “see around the corner and work cross-functionally” is just as important. Particularly, in her role, Renee is working on the company strategy, and at a functional level, helping various departments work together to implement processes and balance trade-offs.
What She Likes Most About GutCheck and How She Describes Our Culture
“The people; everyone says that, but it’s true. More specific to the people, I like that they have many smart ideas, strengths, and weaknesses, and yet because we have values around teamwork and intellectual honesty, people working together here are truly greater than the sum of their parts.”
And when Renee describes our culture to others she continues by talking about our people and innovative strategy. She also notes that as a growing company, we are constantly evolving in an iterative way—agile is in our nature after all. As a result, Renee feels people who want to be successful here need to be adaptable, communicative, and collaborative. One thing she really values is that GutCheck doesn’t set limits around people. While we have guidelines, our culture allows us to think with an educated opinion, and there’s no one saying your role can’t evolve or be defined by you.
If She Won the Lottery, What Would She Do?
Unsurprising to her generous nature, Renee would look to help her family out first. She’s quite attached to her nieces and nephews and would want them to go to college without student loans. Further, Renee would want to help out her church and the programs they have in place for the homeless and for those caught up in sex-trafficking. And last but not least, Renee would like to retire at a humble age of 60 and spend her time working on a fourth career—writing.
What would she write? Probably some poetry and short stories—she’s not sure she could tackle a full novel!
Advice to Her Younger Self
If Renee were speaking to her younger, 25-year-old self, she’d be sure to let her know that she’s proud of her for going to graduate school. When it comes to giving her advice she says, “I’d tell her: Be aware, listen to yourself, understand what you want to do in the long run. Pay attention to what you’re really passionate about.” We find this is great advice—we can all get caught up in our day-to-day jobs and forget what we’re really there for.
Advice for Those at GutCheck
Renee continued to reiterate that to be successful at GutCheck you have to be adaptable to the rapid pace of change that happens in a growing company. But in reality, Renee says GutCheckers don’t need to be told how to be successful; they just need to be sure not to sabotage their success.
In other words, she knows some of us GutCheckers have a bit of a perfectionist streak, so it’s important to have empathy for yourself and not let mistakes or challenges hold you back. She also shares another important piece of advice about not being afraid to go into another function. She’s spent time as a journalist, academic, researcher, and says you pick up valuable skills being in different roles and learn more about how to connect the dots by having another perspective.
If what you heard from Renee sounds interesting to you, check us out. We’re seeking exceptional talent due to our growth and have multiple opportunities available—including some on Renee’s team! To learn more, visit our careers page below.