Before Sumit Maggon joined Colmar Brunton, he didn’t realise the kind of impact market research could have on a business. Now he works with clients to develop effective market research solutions and show them what can be achieved through understanding people.
Born in India, Sumit previously worked in a business development role at Grant Thornton - one of the world's leading independent assurance, tax and advisory firms. In 2015 he decided to leave his role, pack up his life and head to New Zealand to complete further tertiary studies.
“The decision to retrain stemmed from the fact that, in many industries, you need to have a post graduate degree or specialised qualification to reach a certain level in a business,” Sumit explains. “At Grant Thornton I’d always wanted to work on the consulting side of the company, so I decided to do my postgraduate studies in business - moving to New Zealand to study at Unitec’s Mt Albert campus.”
How Unitec helped him settle in a new country
Although he was completely fluent in English, having studied and worked using the language, the move to New Zealand was still a difficult transition. Sumit lived with a friend from India and picked up a part time sales role at HRV to help fund his studies.
“It was a real culture shock. I had to get used to shops closing at 6pm in the suburbs for starters! But I also went from holding an executive role at Grant Thornton in India, to a part time sales role just to pay the bills. It was a big shift, but I believe it helped shape who I am and gave me an understanding of how best to approach the New Zealand market.”
Unitec’s post-graduate degree also equipped Sumit for life in the New Zealand work environment, covering areas such as general business management, organisational strategy and people management.
“Coming from India, I had a completely different understanding of how businesses function. The difference between India and New Zealand is massive and Unitec helped me understand how things are done and how the work environment functions in this country. The course offered practical learning related to the actual workplace; we looked at best practices and how we could emulate them in our own careers. I left feeling really prepared for the job market.”
Sumit graduated in 2017 and received multiple job offers, but chose to go with Colmar Brunton.
“I chose the Colmar Brunton role because market research was an industry I hadn’t worked in before, but the job was broadly the same as my previous account management role in India. So I was learning some new skills, but still had the skillset and confidence from my previous jobs to push through. Plus, they offered me a carpark in Takapuna, and there was a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream shop downstairs!”
Joining the world of market research
Sumit now works as a Senior Account Manager for a division of Colmar Brunton called Consumer Link, which specialises in the data collection side of market research.
“If a client comes to Colmar Brunton wanting to conduct some research, but would like to complete the insight side of things themselves, they work with Consumer Link. We get a lot of PHD students and boutique agencies with their own insights departments. We assist them with their research and help them understand what they can do with the data; what the numbers mean, and how they can accumulate a bigger data set.
“As an Account Manager, my role is broadly divided into two parts: firstly, dealing with existing big accounts such as research companies, SMEs or crown agencies. They know what they’re doing: they just want to interview certain people and we help them achieve their research objectives. The second part of the job, which I love most, is working with people who are new to the concept of market research. We help them realise the potential of the actionable insights we can gain. It’s about educating them and arming them with a new skillset. Seeing the kinds of insights our clients get and the actions they’ve taken as a result is really wonderful.”
Sumit says there is so much to love about his role, but it’s the variety of work that really motivates him.
“Before I joined Colmar Brunton, I didn’t realise the scope of market research - how much data can predict that you don’t even realise is possible. Every day is a new challenge; no two companies are the same, so it’s about figuring out how to approach each unique problem and design a solution - it’s not a one size fits all model.
“My career has taught me that you need to be open minded when approaching the job market. Before I started my first job I couldn’t imagine a role like that could exist. I was fortunate that I loved it so much I decided to make a career out of it! I think when you’re job hunting you need to be open to different opportunities and not afraid to get your hands dirty. And if you don’t like it, you can always pivot or restart.
“I’d also say don’t be afraid to reach out for help. There are always other people who have been through the same thing you have - such as coming from overseas and settling into a new country. To this day I still reach out to people via LinkedIn to ask for support. I’m fortunate to have great connections and a job that challenges and inspires me every day.”