We chatted with Sabrina Schoeder, MD & Partner of Happy Thinking People APAC to understand her professional journey and how the agency strives to create value for brands in the competitive landscape.
- Tell me about where you grew up and your journey into research and everything in between?
Growing up in Germany and being born into a family business of hospitality, I always knew I wanted to do something that involved people, challenges, lots of travel and ideally, great food! Hence, working in industries like tourism, luxury and marketing came like a natural choice. Although life in Germany was nice and convenient, I felt a lack of challenge and decided to give up everything, sell my belongings and say good-bye to friends and family. I decided to travel the world and a series of event led me to India. In India, I gathered various experiences in events, fashion & film, and eventually found my place at H/T/P India. Starting as freelancer, I quickly joined the project team and then, 3 years later became Managing Director. The rest is history. It’s been a great, unpredictable journey so far and have been deeply involved in every inch of qualitative research. Finally, my quest for people, travel & new challenges are falling into place! Working across categories in markets around the world, consulting clients on research, innovation and strategy and conquering new challenges every day has become my new home.
- What motivates you to do what you do, every single day? What/who are your influencers?
I am a workaholic. A happy one. I like growth, creating things and doing the best I can, every day. I’m always up to something and boredom is never an option. I believe that nothing is impossible and I get inspired by people that leave everything behind to follow their dreams! Authors like Ayn Rand make me want to do more, be more.
- What do you do besides work that keeps you informed and motivated?Of course, the IoT provides fantastic access to the latest information in technology, science and new trends. In addition to that I like to travel and to explore new & remote places, preferably solo, on a motorcycle. Experimenting with new culinary tastes from across the world fills me up with joy. Learning new skills such as playing the guitar, diving, kitesurfing or a new language are on my to-do list.
- What role do you play at Happy Thinking People and what is your key focus in order to push the company forward?
As Managing Director & Partner, where do I start? My aim is to create a company that delivers exceptional quality and value to our clients, while being always inspiring, new and creative in our work. Working with a fantastic & talented team that is extremely motivated, highly skilled and a lot of fun, we continuously strive to create value and provide tangible results. My aim is to create valuable content that drives innovation through the work that we produce and push the company forward by adapting in this changing and exciting time.
- What kind of projects do you work for- local & global? How do you approach them and what is your process?
I generally work across projects, but have recently focused a lot on innovation & strategy across India, Asia Pacific and emerging markets. For me, good planning, creative thinking and a proactive approach sets the foundation for a successful project. Managing multiple markets or a demanding research objective requires effective preparation, constant quality controls and being prepared for last minute challenges, 24/7. But most importantly, you should have fun doing it! Make it a joyful and enriching experience for the client, the team & yourself.
- What are the few things that are critical when you work with your team?
Good Coffee. Positive Thinking. Transparent Communication. Being polite & respectful. Encouragement to try your best and make mistakes!
- What kind of changes/trends do you notice manifesting in the research industry right now in India? How is H/T/P adapting to these changes?
Over the past 10 years, the approach towards qualitative research has changed drastically. From being a stereotypical research company that would help solve mostly validation studies to being a strategic partner, we’ve noticed that a lot of our clients are now actively looking for new & novel research approaches. Innovative & creative study designs are in high demand and with India going rapidly digital, methods amplified via technology are extremely exciting. There is also a mature appreciation for good quality work that is leading to a shift of focus from cost to value, from big agencies to small/niche studios, making it an exciting time for boutique agencies like H/T/P.
- According to you, what makes H/T/P different in India and APAC and what are the actions that help sustain that?
We are a one-stop-solution for our client’s qualitative research needs, bridging the gap between research data and creative visualization. As a partner, we make research easy and guide our clients through the research process from beginning to end. Our aim is to provide high quality, reliable research that that focus on smooth execution, genuine respondents and strategic analysis and reports. Combining research, creativity & innovation, we always go the extra mile to make sure each project is a success, something we are proud of.
- To end- what is true happiness to you? Mention 3 things that make you happy.
A new challenge. Good Food. Motorcycles. Thank you!