Marketing research; Baptism by fire

This is the first blog from Innocent Rwamba Nyaga who is following the MS in market research at the University of Nairobi, Kenya. Innocent is the recipient of the ESOMAR Foundation / MSRA Scholarship sponsored by WIRe and Unilever

The phrase ‘baptism by fire’ was first coined by John the Baptist in the Bible in The New Testament and was mainly mentioned in regard to peoples’ ability to be cleansed and consecrated spiritually. Its application now originates from Europe describing an employee that is learning something the hard way, like being immersed in their field of employment. Baptism by fire also has its roots in battle terminology, describing a soldier’s first time in battle.

This is true for my interaction with the subject of Market Research as an actual field of work or study and this was initiated (literally) by a guest lecture in the university by Phyllis Macfarlane. I hadn’t attended a class by then so she was my opening to the subject and what it entails in the real world. I left that two day seminar a believer. Like most people in Kenya, Market Research is not known very well as it has not been an avenue to get employment. You see, when we go to university, we choose fields that will enable students get a job at the end of it all because that is the societal pressure we face. The idea of using one’s talent as a way of making a living is a concept that has just penetrated the country and more so Africa as a whole. This is because we have been brought up to uphold tradition and to always obey our elders (in this case parents/guardians) as they know what’s best of us.

It’s a very interesting subject for me as I am very passionate about people in general, what makes them tick and being able to put myself on their lever to better understand them. This degree will further this ability and together with training, I’ll be well integrated in the industry. Honestly, I find myself looking forward to being done with this part of schooling and getting my hands dirty, so to speak.

I have had a couple of months’ worth of classes now and truthfully my best class so far is on Marketing Ethics and Governance taught by one Dr. Joseph Owino, every Monday evening, worth every penny this lecture. What’s interesting is his ability to let his students think critically by providing real life situations/scenarios by way of case studies and asking pertinent questions that make us think because the aspect of ethics is not always a given for all. One may choose to be ethical or not in every aspect of life. The other subjects are interesting too thing is I need to invest more time in doing more out of class research so as to reach a suitable level of understanding.

Dr. Joseph Owino

This Scholarship really is special because women in general and especially in Africa face a lot of challenges specifically when it comes to advancing themselves so as to reach that level of self-actualisation that Maslow’s theory/hierarchy of needs talks about. Besides these challenges women are strong willed, future oriented and can survive any environment. To ESOMAR Foundation, WIRe, MSRA and Unilever, I’m forever indebted to you. I will endeavour to be a good example to those who come behind me and I shall take full advantage of this opportunity.

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