What Makes A Leader: Carlijn Tummers, Regional Research Director at MetrixLab
Carlijn Tummers is a sports, wine and cheese lover known for her Dutch directness and endless energy.
She thinks outside the box and gets excited by building high performance teams. MetrixLab, the leading global market research agency she works at, is the perfect environment for her. Even though it is a global company, the spirit is entrepreneurial and they are always on the lookout to expand into new countries. After spending the first couple of years of her career at MetrixLabs’ headquarters in the Netherlands, she moved to London to support the growing business and expand the local team. On a sunny day at the famous Ascot horseraces the inevitable happened, she met an Englishman and never returned home. Four years and a baby later she convinced him to move to Singapore. MetrixLab opened a brand new office and adventure was calling. Carlijn has now taken on a regional role, she is responsible for all research teams across AMEA (Africa, Middle East & Asia).
How did you get started in your field?
That is a funny question because honestly it was a coincidence. After finishing my Masters I wanted to go travelling in South America for a year, to explore the world. To fund the travel I needed to earn some money (quickly). I knew the CEO of MetrixLab so I asked him if he had a temporary job for me. He said yes you can start next week and that’s how I got into Consumer Insights.. After I came back from travelling I started at a Strategic consultancy company for the first couple of years but I realized I missed the world of brands & advertising and also the data analytics part of it. So I decided to return to MetrixLab and haven’t left since.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently career-wise?
I would have probably chosen for a different Master. I did a Masters called Policy, Communication and Organization but I would have chosen Business Administration or Marketing masters.
Has your industry changed since you started in it and if so how have you adapted to it?
Yes the industry has changed and is ever changing. Thinking about globalisation, digital revolution, Social media, Gamification and Artificial Intelligence to name a few. You have to keep innovating and that makes it fun and challenging. But we also have to be wary of what is a serious improvement/advanced way of doing research and what are the new things that sound sexy but are not really adding value to our current methods. That’s what we constantly do at MetrixLab, thinking of scalable innovative solutions to produce meaningful insights (based on data) so our clients can make the best business decisions fastest. (Our marketing team would say that this sentence is way too long – sorry guys!)
Life is full of challenges, what’s been your biggest professional one and how did you overcome it?
I think my biggest challenges in my career has been moving from London to Singapore. Different cultures, different ways of doing business, different mindset, it was a steep learning curve. I have been observing at the start, listened, but also asked a lot of questions, to my colleagues but also to shopkeepers, taxi drivers, neighbours etc.
Which business leaders do you admire?
Gillian Tans, former CEO of booking.com. She rides a bicycle to work. She is softspoken, wears no make-up, and did not put on any airs as head of one of the largest tech companies in the world. She seems very down to earth, I love that.
What qualities do you think you need to be a true pioneer?
Curious, brave, calm, be able to listen and not afraid to ask.
On a personal level, who do you admire?
My dad. So well balanced in everything he says and does, it makes me jealous..
What do you think are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
I am an extrovert who easily communicates and loves being around others, but I can also really enjoy spending a day behind my computer analyzing numbers. A bit of a weird combination but it works! For me as a leader, empowering everyone (from junior to senior) to voice their support and concerns, create an open culture where everyone feels valued and motivated is the key to success.
If you had just one day to achieve something you had always dreamt of, how would you do it and what would it be?
A trip around the world – explore new countries and have no agenda. I could make it happen in only 3 hours…. 9am – send resignation letter 10am book a world trip ticket 10.30am head to airport 12pm take off to anywhere!
Finally, any advice for future business leaders?
Stay true to yourself and envision success
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