Inside Insights with Qualvu: Dean Macko, Senior Director, Research & Strategy

March 19, 2012

Welcome to our third Inside Insights with Qualvu interview.  Through this series, we are giving you the inside scoop into life according to Qualvu – who we are; what we do; how we deliver better business value; what our favorite items from the Qualvu fridge are – but most importantly, who makes  up our energetic  team.

Qualvu is software driven, but people powered. While supported by a software platform, we rely on human intelligence to drive our business ‒ because at the end of the day, it is our people who go above and beyond to inspire, innovate, and deliver better business solutions.

Today, we are joined by Dean Macko, Senior Director, Research & Strategy.


Q: Can you tell us a little about your background and how you ended up at Qualvu?

A: I have over 17 years of market research experience. I started off working for one of Canada’s largest market research firms in Toronto after I graduated college. They had an opportunity to open a London and Detroit office, but due to lack of seniority, I got second choice, so I ended up moving to Detroit for 13 years. After that, I moved out to Boston, where I analyzed clickstream and auto shopping behaviors for two years. I then spent four years with Hyundai Motor America as a market research manager and strategist before moving to Qualvu, where I’ve been for almost two years now.

The funny thing about Qualvu is that I had actually met John Williamson, our CEO & Founder, at a market research event where I was speaking. I had lunch with him and he made such an impression on me as an individual that we instantly clicked. When I started getting a little antsy at Hyundai, John was the first person I called. And within two weeks, I had a job offer.


Q: Qualvu’s goal is to deliver the truth to businesses globally. What role do you play in that process?

A: As a strategist on the research team, I work closely with research stakeholders to understand their business needs, goals, and strategy, and design a project that gets them to their truth. One of the critical tasks I take on is developing discussion guides, one of the unheralded steps in the research assembly line and probably the most important document we produce in tandem with the client, as it’s key to eliciting the feedback we need.

Once we’ve gotten the discussion guide nailed down, the participants really take over from there. The participants we recruit are more willing to open up their minds, hearts, and in some instances, their homes to us in a way I’ve never seen before.  Even when we give them outlandish tasks, they always come through for us.


Q: How does your position play a role within the overall Qualvu structure and process?

A: My role is becoming increasingly collaborative.  I am working closer with the sales and project management teams in particular. I work with the sales team to develop an initial understanding of the client’s business needs and objectives. And I work with the project management team to ensure we are delivering world class qualitative research reports and experiences every time.

Beyond my role as a strategist, I’m also part of the leadership panel at Qualvu, meaning I play a role in driving the business forward and upholding the key philosophies of executive management.


Q: How do you believe Qualvu is addressing a need within the industry?

A: Researchers are seeing a rise in demand for reports with embedded video for a number of reasons: they are more impactful, more believable, and easier to digest. By embedding consumer feedback videos into our reports, the research data is accessible and on demand – and that is what really sets us apart.

Having the consumers staring back at the executives on almost every report slide makes our underlying findings almost irrefutable. The level of truth we’re able to bring to a conference room – to a room full of executives – by having our findings supported by video is extremely powerful.  It makes our research pop – not only because consumers’ voices and faces are projected on the slides – but because their responses are so candid and raw. I’ve never seen a participant cry before until I joined Qualvu. And now, I feel like I’ve seen it all. From new mothers crying about motherhood to a participant tearing up while recalling family memories gathered around a bucket of KFC chicken. It’s just remarkable that we get the types of responses that we do. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that people don’t think there are other people in the room when they talk in front of a camera. It’s like reality TV – participants forget there is a camera, and they revert back to their raw instincts – and that is how we capture such organic consumer insights.


Q: What do you think makes Qualvu unique?

A: I would have to say our asynchronous video qualitative research methodology. It is just so unique. Even when you are on the phone with a client you can see the light bulb go off in their head when you start talking about Qualvu’s methodology. It’s such an easy premise to understand they usually get it instantly.  And because it’s so powerful in its simplicity and deliverables, 99 times out of 100, once they’ve done a pilot study with us, they are lining up at the door to do another one. That’s a rarity in this industry.


Q: How do you think Qualvu optimizes value for businesses?

A: While other methodologies abstract key themes from memory, we are extracting and reviewing every word of every sentence via video and speech-to-text transcripts. It is really unmatched in the industry. As a result, we bring unprecedented accuracy to our data. If clients ask us a question on the phone about what percentage of participants responded in a certain way, for example, we can answer that immediately by using our powerful analysis suite to search for keywords, codes, and themes, or quickly filter data – and that is impossible to do with any other qualitative research option. And of course, having that embedded video in every report is key to optimizing business value for stakeholders.

We are also advancing our thinking from a strategy perspective. We continue to hire better and better people who can think deeper and offer more meaningful consumer insights and recommendations.


Q: Thank you, Dean, for sharing a little bit about your role at Qualvu. Just one last important question, what is your favorite beverage in the Qualvu fridge?

A: Diet Coke (with Splenda).  I don’t think it’s been proven to cause cancer – yet.