Editor’s Note: The following interview features a GreenBook Future List honoree, Laura Jett. The GreenBook Future List recognizes leadership, professional growth, personal integrity, passion, and excellence in the next generation of consumer insights and marketing professionals within the first 10 years of their careers.
Introducing Laura Jett
Laura’s career has been defined by an ability to identify consumer pain points and complex business problems and creatively – yet intuitively – uncover how to solve them. She approaches market research the same way you would approach a mathematical problem: identifying the desired outcome, considering the variables, and ultimately solving with an answer that is both actionable and insightful. Laura applies this same approach in her drive to elevate the voices of all consumer groups as the Fitbit Insights Lead at Google, including spearheading recent efforts within Fitbit to drive towards more inclusive and diverse research efforts. Laura holds an M.B.A. from the Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University and a B.S. in Mathematics with minors in Statistics and Business Management from Sweet Briar College.
What’s a fun fact about yourself that would surprise people to know?
I’m typically very Type A and known for being a planner in the workplace. I’m quite the daredevil outside of work, though. I’ve been skydiving multiple times, am PADI certified for scuba diving, love ziplining, and have been white water rafting on class V rapids. It’s nice to let loose sometimes and just rid yourself of the desire to control everything!
Since starting your career in market research, what would you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
Twice I have successfully transitioned as a member of small companies that were acquired by larger ones; first with Cricket Wireless into AT&T, and most recently with Fitbit being acquired by Google. Prior to both of the acquisitions, I had focused heavily on building credibility and trust across departments through initiative and extensive networking. When the acquisitions happened, everything changed – stakeholders, priorities, processes, etc. During these transitions, I was tasked with representing the core strengths of the brand and being the voice of the consumer to ensure that the key characteristics of both were retained and leveraged. My ability to not only adapt but thrive in these settings has been my greatest accomplishment thus far in my career. I’ve had to demonstrate and hone my ability to thrive in ambiguity, which I believe will be key to my long-term career success.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your career, what advice would you give to your younger self?
As Adam Grant says, “If you hit your goal on the first try, you may be aiming too low. Falling short is a sign that you’re challenging yourself”. I would love to go back and tell myself that it is okay – if not necessary – to get uncomfortable and even fail. I consider myself like most of the people I’ve met in the market research world: perfectionists that are constantly seeking the absolute best answer or solution. When I’ve failed in my career, I’ve been able to detach from expectations and have an opportunity to re-explore the question, project, or process, oftentimes leading to more creative, in-depth solutions.
How did you get your start in insights? Did you know that this is what you wanted to do, or did you fall into it?
I studied Mathematics during my undergraduate education and thought I wanted to work in Finance or Data Analytics. During my MBA coursework, I took one Executive Finance course and immediately decided it wasn’t interesting or creative enough for me to do for my entire career. I came across a Market Research course as I started looking into other ways mathematical analysis is applied in business. The combination of statistics, strategy, and natural curiosity captivated me then and still holds my passion to this day. My ability to understand a problem, work through options, and come to an answer are all skills I use in my day-to-day work, and I appreciate the meaningful value I can add to our work while doing something that I genuinely love.
What is something you’ve built or launched that you’re proud of?
I am particularly proud of Fitbit Ace, a tracker for children, because the insights that went into the product development have led to direct impacts on children’s long-term wellbeing. Fitbit’s mission is to make the world healthier. As we looked at trends of the general population, increasing obesity rates and decreasing activity levels amongst children were alarming. As we explored ways to make fitness and healthy habits entertaining and engaging for children, we conducted both qualitative and quantitative explorations with the kids and their parents to ensure we were meeting the holistic needs of everyone involved in the purchase decision and product usage. We developed the tracker with these core needs in mind, selected colors that kids were interested in, and designed engaging clock faces and challenges to make healthy lifestyles fun and motivating for the entire family. I’m proud of the consumer-driven approach we took to designing the product and our commitment to fulfilling our mission for everyone.
If you had $1M to invest in various parts of the industry, who or what would you invest in? (You can split the amount as you see fit!)
I would love to invest in more robust ways to measure trade-offs made during the purchase of a product. Currently, our industry relies heavily on discrete choice models like conjoint to simulate purchase behavior. These often exaggerate the role that features play in the purchase decision and underrepresent the role of brand, design, and UI. I would hope my investment creates a blueprint of how to supplement traditional online quantitative trade-off analyses with in-person interactions with the product to better represent the purchase process and produce more accurate, actionable results.
Is there a particular failure that you’ve experienced that has shaped your career and/or decisions?
One of the first studies I ran in my career was exploring different rate plan structures for Cricket Wireless as we investigated a new market we were entering. I met with my stakeholders to draft objectives and align on methodology, eager to get results as quickly as possible. While presenting my recommendations at the end of the study, I realized that I had tested features and price point combinations that were operationally impossible for us to execute, either due to technical limitations or gross margin constraints. I learned the lesson early on that your research is only as good as the stimuli you put in it and that an analysis plan before launching a study is key to setting it up for success.