Growth, strategy, people and culture

The new MRS Agency Owners & Leaders conference addresses the most pressing business issues facing leaders and supports agencies scaling up to the next level. Join us for an immersive experience of learning, networking, and collaboration focused on boosting growth, attracting investment and creating great places to work.

Tickets are limited to this senior event so book your place now to:

  • Evaluate business growth strategies to scale your market research agency
  • Find out how to maximise your value and appeal to companies seeking M&A opportunities
  • Learn from the success stories of agencies which have achieved remarkable results and discover actionable takeaways
  • Discover strategies and best practices for creating a supportive, inclusive and engaging work environment that encourages loyalty and retains top talent
  • Exchange ideas in round table sessions that foster intimate and productive discussions between agency leaders

Who should attend?

Agency owners, CEOs, Managing Directors, Managing Partners and other C level executives responsible for growth and strategy.

All delegates will receive a copy of the Sunday Times bestselling book Workstyle: A revolution for wellbeing, productivity and society.


Radisson Blu Edwardian
9-13 Bloomsbury Street,London,WC1B 3QD

With special thanks to:

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Registration & coffee



Welcome from the Co-Chairs

Morning Chair: James Endersby, CEO, Opinium & Chair Designate, MRS

Afternoon Chair: Sinead Jefferies, Senior Vice President of Customer Expertise, Zappi & Chair, MRS



M&A in market research: maximising your appeal to strategic partners

Find out how to raise your appeal to companies seeking M&A opportunities in UK market research.

Graeme Cade, EVP M&A, Savanta Invest



PANEL - Business growth & strategy: optimising your agency business model

Research sector financing expert, Jon Priest discusses business models and financial planning with agency leaders whose firms exemplify three very different growth strategies: super-fast, sustainably organic, and merger-centric.


·        Strategically balancing ad hoc and repeatable business

·        Achieving the right client and cashflow model

·        How will AI radically impact business strategy, dynamics and operating costs?

·        Capabilities: build or buy?

·        Anticipating the challenges that come with fast growth

Chaired by:

Jon Priest, Partner, Capel Partners & Green Square Associates



Barrie Brien, Group CEO, Strat7

Tugce Bulut, Founder of Streetbees and Alchemy

Debbie Newbould, Founder & CEO, Flume



Lessons learnt from Zappi’s journey to raising finance

In 2022, Zappi raised a massive $170m to finance its expansion ambitions. In this talk, founder and CEO, Steve Phillips will share key learnings from the financing journey.

Steve Phillips, Founder & CEO, Zappi



Networking break


Round tables: growth, strategy & finance

Delegates are invited to choose two, half hour, guided discussions to join, where they can delve into a specific business issue and benefit from a frank exchange of ideas with their industry peers.


1.      Attracting investment

Led by: Chris Molloy, Co-Founder, Brand Potential


2.      Optimising channel and partnership strategies

Led by: Graeme Cade, EVP M&A, Savanta Invest


3.      Agency growth planning

Led by: Anna Cliffe, Co-Founder & Joint MD, Trinity McQueen


4.      Planning for the future - how will AI change your business?

Led by: Steve Phillips, Founder & CEO, Zappi


5.      M&A: managing the cultural & functional challenges of joining together to be a global player

Led by: Paul Child, Senior Business Director, Human8


6.      The role of MR agencies in the GPT era

Led by: Tugce Bulut, Founder of Streetbees and Alchemy


7.      Preparing for exit

Led by: Jon Priest, Partner, Capel Partners & Green Square Associates


8.      The keys to sustainable growth

Led by: Alison Bainbridge, Founder, Kokoro



Networking Lunch


Why hybrid, flexible and the 4-day-work-week are not the future of work!

Flexible, hybrid and the 4-day-workweek have all been celebrated as the future of work, but Lizzie and Alex believe in a more fundamental reshaping of the way we work to facilitate the widespread adoption of autonomous working, or ‘workstyle', where we each have the freedom to choose when and where we work.


Lizzie and Alex share why now is the time for this radical change at work, and an overview of their unique research into the link between autonomy, wellbeing and productivity. They’ll share the lessons they have learned building Hoxby - a 500-strong organisation that delivers projects, worldwide, through teams working in a workstyle way and they explain how this new way of working can elevate wellbeing, step-change productivity and be transformative for society.

Lizzie Penny, Co-Founder & Joint CEO, Hoxby

Alex Hirst, Co-Founder & Joint CEO, Hoxby



14:10: Key insights from the MRS people & talent workstreams

 Understanding the issues - what lies behind the need for cross-sector focus on People, Talent & Inclusion - Pam Armstrong, Partner, Daughters of Sailors

 The business leader's view - a first person perspective from Richard Heath, MD, Blue Yonder

 Round table discussions to understand key issues, barriers and areas to address

 What's next & what to expect:

People & Talent - Sarah Whiddett,  Director, Client Partnerships, Insights Division, UK & Ireland, Kantar

Inclusion - Babita Earle, EVP Global Enterprise Partnerships, Zappi & Chair, MRS Equality, Diversity & inclusion Council


Networking break


Championing employee ownership as the win-win-win model for agency owners, employees and the business

In recent years, a small number of market research agencies have transitioned to an employee ownership model. In this session, three of these agencies come together to share their experiences; outlining the operational and psychological steps to moving to this model and evaluating its far-reaching benefits for their businesses and employees. 

·       Why employee ownership for market research agencies? 

·       Sharing experiences of the process of becoming employee owned 

·       Examining how employee ownership has positively shaped organisation culture, strategy and operations

·       How employee ownership can be a solution to the most pressing talent recruitment, development and retention issues facing the sector?

Alison Philips, Client Services Director, MM-Eye

David Alterman, Chief Executive Officer, The Nursery Research & Planning

Danny Sims, Founder, DJS Research



Round tables: people & culture

Delegates are invited to choose two, half hour, guided discussions to join, where they can delve into a specific business issue and benefit from a frank exchange of ideas with their industry peers.


9.      Championing ED&I and making real impact from top to bottom

Led by: Alex Owens, CMI VP, Unilever, Executive Sponsor of proUd, Unilever’s LGBTQI+ Network & winner of MRS ED&I Changemaker Award


10.      Building a culture of connection

Led by: Lizzy Moroney, Head of Customer Strategy, Firefish & Sian Stranks, people & Development Director, Firefish


11.      Sharing experiences, challenges and solutions for flexible and hybrid working

Led by: Magdalena Zajaczkowska, Senior Operations Manager, ClearView Research


12.     Non-financial retention - beyond cash, how to retain talent in today’s working world

Led by: Louise McLaren Managing Director, Lovebrands, Richard Heath, MD, Blueyonder, John Robson, Independent Advisory


13.      Applying an ED&I lens to talent recruitment, development & retention

Led by: Christina Lai, Consultant User Researcher, Digital Services, Kainos & & MRS ED&I Changemaker Finalist


14.      Avoiding 'wellbeing washing': ensuring your approach meaningfully impacts your people and bottom line

Led by: Phil Burgess, Co-founder & Managing Partner, Within


15.      Achieving ED&I: lessons from a small agency approach

Led by: Sarah Jenkins, Founder of Magenta


16.      Leadership & culture: addressing overwork and overwhelm at source

Led by: Stephanie Rowley, Qualitative Researcher & Executive Coach


17.      Leadership & culture: Adapting to a growing Generation Z workforce and engaging effectively with different generational groups

Led by: Jane Rudling, Managing Director, Walnut Unlimited & Amy Nichols, Research Director, Walnut Unlimited



Closing comments from the Chair


Networking drinks reception

Additional Information

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