Bethan Blakely has been working in market research and analytics for a decade, with the overarching goal of bringing the two closer together. In 2018 she co-founded Honeycomb Analytics, an agency that exists to do exactly that: bring together what customers do with why they do it. She is an advocate of utilising existing data and fusing different sources to give a clearer idea of context. This involves using data that is publicly available, existing business data and insight, and primary research.

Bethan was a finalist for Research Live’s Young Researcher of the year Award in 2018 and spoke at the first MRSpride event in May 2019.

I wish someone had told me at the beginning of my career that you don’t have to fit anyone else’s mould. You don’t need to squeeze yourself into a pigeon hole. Create the space you need, and hold onto it.

I most admire people who stand up for themselves, and other people. It can be really hard to do that, but it is so important.

It’s difficult to know what a future-fit research world looks like at the minute as we’re not sure what the future looks like at all! Hopefully it’s inclusive, it’s dynamic, it’s resilient. It’s fit for purpose, whatever that purpose might be.

My resilience tip for when times get tough is: Be nice to yourself! When times get tough the last person you need making things worse for yourself is you. Give yourself a break. Allow yourself a “bad” day. It might be exactly what you need.

The most amazing experience when I was doing research was doing focus groups with parents of disabled children where their respite was under threat of being cut. My objective was to collect as much evidence as possible of how devastating it would be if it was to be cut, and I ended up with several adults sobbing around the table talking of suicide and other awful hypothetical situations. I felt absolutely awful pushing them for more details during the group, and started crying myself as soon as the group had finished. The service didn’t get cut though, and I received some personal thankyou notes from the parents afterwards. Feels nice to make a difference.

The one story I’ve always wanted to tell but never had a chance is when my wife and I had stones thrown at us by teenagers for holding hands. Within the last decade. It’s a stark reminder to those that need it that we’re a long way off where we should be, and where we deserve to be.

To me, great leadership looks like partnership. You don’t have to be “above” others to be leading. A great leader will be a solid part of a team – giving direction and advice, but also encouraging others to do so if and when they can.

The main challenge in building a more inclusive world is convincing everyone the world isn’t inclusive “enough” already. Just because things are better than they were, does not mean they’re good enough. I do think it’s important to realise how far we’ve come, but not at the price of realising how far we still have to go.

If I wasn’t doing this, I would be working with disadvantaged people or children somehow. I have done a lot of work with autistic children, and it’s such a rewarding line of work (although also absolutely draining). I have the hugest respect for anyone doing it day in day out.


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