Q&A with Our Newest Project Manager, Tony Moguel

We have always held to the philosophy that promoting from within nurtures deep, meaningful relationships with our clients and creates a team of dedicated researchers who have a thorough understanding of our processes.  For this reason, we tend to hire researchers who are passionate about their careers and want to be involved in our success story and cultivate relationships with our clients over time.

Tony is our most recent embodiment of this philosophy.  He began his career at Illuminas in 2008 as an intern and immediately made an impact, working his way into a full-time role soon after. Since then, he has been promoted several times, from Research Assistant, to Associate, to Senior Associate and now to Project Manager. Tenured staff is integral to our culture and success, and Tony is the first to start as an intern. For this reason, we met with Tony and asked him to share his knowledge and experience.

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emblem-question-150x150So, what’s your secret? How did you go from intern to Project Manager so quickly?

Two things have helped me thrive in the Illuminas ecosystem, the first being my natural curiosity.  The environment at Illuminas is conducive to that personality trait, so I have always had the opportunity to ask questions and pursue the things that made me curious in relation to my work. The second is my ability to adapt to my experiences and feed off the advice from my coworkers.  The staff at Illuminas is diverse and everyone brings something special to the table, and I sincerely think my success is an amalgamation of advice and training I’ve received from the entire team.

Did you take the Illuminas internship with a research career in mind, or did that happen organically?


Before applying for the internship at Illuminas I had no experience in a real B2B environment. I had worked at a small accounting firm where the majority of the clients were small business owners – there was no real insight into the corporate business world. After careful consideration I picked the internship at Illuminas because it would give me a glimpse of that business world.  While Illuminas itself is a boutique research firm, many of the clients are Fortune 1000 companies. I was studying Accounting and Supply Chain Management at The University of Texas at Austin, so research was extremely fresh to me. I was hooked because much of the research conducted at Illuminas focuses on the intersection of technology and other industries, and as a tech enthusiast that really resonated with me. In addition to that, the quantitative aspect of research fit well with my strengths.

Tell us about the skill set you’ve had to develop over the years to become a great researcher.

Dozens of skills must be honed to succeed in this career, including: time management, prioritization, organization, statistical, quantitative, delegation, creative, and writing skills. However, I think the biggest skill that’s necessary to succeed is communication. Whether written or verbal, communication is at the center of everything. We communicate and collaborate with clients to design the research.  We communicate internally and with suppliers to execute the research. When the data is gathered, we then communicate the results back to the client in creative and actionable ways. School teaches you basic communication that is overly wordy, technical and “safe”. It really didn’t prepare me for the business world where clients want succinctness and clarity. 

What has been your most memorable project, and why?

My most memorable project was a series of mystery shopping studies we did for one of our tech clients.   This was one of the first studies where the team really pushed me to step up and contribute more in a study that was ongoing, complex, and multi-national.  Every wave of the study was a new challenge with unique client objectives and needs, so I feel like you could almost track my professional growth with the growth of that study. There were many instances where I had to go above and beyond (manually sourcing addresses for stores to mystery shop in rural China, translating emails for our client to send to her Latin America colleagues, etc.), which was a great exercise in client service.  In addition, this was a study where I honed my abilities to Screen-Shot-2013-06-06-at-10.43.16-AMcommunicate with vendors and manage that complex process and all of the associated details.   This project was full of surprises because it was such a unique methodology and an innovative application of mystery shopping.  In fact, our client even presented this as an innovation case study it at The Market Research Event in 2011, which was one of the high notes of my tenure here at Illuminas.

What advice would you give someone looking to join the research industry?

It’s all about motivation and perspective. You need to come into any research role with a genuine desire to serve the clients. If your interests are not aligned with the client’s interests, success will be hard to achieve. It is motivating to help clients solve their business problems and to see that your recommendation has made it to the client’s product line (and that they’ve leveraged your design to show product features for the past three years). If you are motivated and you are in sync with your client’s needs, then spending that extra effort on providing quality and actionable results is second nature.

What excites you most about your future at Illuminas and within the research field? 

Our meteoric growth and the growing need for market research is very exciting.  We are winning new clients in different industries, our brand presence is growing and our in-house talent is stronger than ever. Technology is constantly evolving and companies will always need information to help them understand the evolution. The intersection of technology with other industries is ever expanding and in a few years we will be doing research in categories that don’t even exist today.

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Illuminas is excited to have Tony as a Project Manager with his enthusiasm and strength for making clients happy.  Join us in congratulating Tony on his success!