Feature Interview with LDA Research Founder, Lucy Doorbar
Feature Interview with LDA Founder, Lucy Doorbar
This month we were lucky enough to be able to schedule in an interview with LDA Founder, Lucy Doorbar. It was a great opportunity to find out how she got started in the medical market research sector, what it was like setting up the company whilst being a mum with small children, and why LDA Research is different from other market research companies.
Hi Lucy, thanks so much for taking time out, I know how busy you are. First of all, could you tell me how you came to set up LDA Research?
As is usually the case, out of adverse circumstances came opportunity. I was made redundant from a small market research company, so I moved to London to work for a larger company. I found the hours just weren’t compatible with being a mum – my children were still very small - so I went freelance. That worked better, and I noticed that I was constantly getting queries about medical market research recommendations. I had quite a bit of experience in this area, and had built up a good network. There was obviously a demand – and so LDA Research was born (laughs).
I started out as an outsourcing business working with a number of countries where I had contacts. For the UK and USA I was doing all the recruiting and interviewing in the early days.
What goals did you have for the business when you started out?
I saw a gap in the medical market research market and I thought that we could fill it. So LDA Research was created to provide a network of consultant level interviewers who would carry out qualitative and quantitative medical market research internationally.
All the people working at LDA are seasoned market researchers with real life experience of the topics they’re discussing, either as researchers or practitioners. As the business has grown we’ve been able to take on young researchers who we’ve trained up, but at our core we’re still a team of medical market researchers who are experts in the field.
You’re known for managing market research internationally, what’s your global reach now?
Most English speaking markets – the US, New Zealand, Australia, the UK, South America, Europe and the Asian markets.
Has the kind of work you do changed over the past decade?
Yes, it’s certainly evolved. At the start it was all medical device market research - qualitative telephone interviewing, and that’s remained at staple to this day. But as we got better known the projects got bigger. Now we also cover the pharmaceutical market as a core part of our business too.
We’ve become known as the company to go to for ‘hard to reach’ groups. Right from the start we’ve always worked really hard on recruiting people for research studies. And we can’t resist a challenge! So if someone asks us to do some work on a niche area where you can’t rely on traditional recruitment methods, we’ll be the ones to find the participants.
There’s no magic ingredient to finding ‘hard to reach’ participants. We put in the time, we do lots of secondary research and we use lots of different social networks. We also work hard building and maintaining good relationships with our respondents.
Do you have an example of a successful use of social media for participant recruitment?
Voice of the Patient has been a great resource for us. We set it up as a Facebook group offering networking opportunities and healthcare information. Over the years it’s become a lively community of interests and we’ve been able to recruit quite a few ‘hard to reach’ participants using it.
What’s the work you’re most proud of?
Oh, that’s hard! I suppose it’s the most challenging work that stays with you. We’ve done some bespoke work with cancer charities. When you’re working with cancer patients, you have to be incredibly sensitive when you’re recruiting respondents. We really thought about their needs and requirements, about what we could ask of – for example – a terminally ill patient, and what they could give. I’m proud of that kind of work.
We also support a number of healthcare charities, and I’m proud that we’re able to do that. We’ve always supported Niemann Pick UK; I got involved supporting them when my eldest daughter was a toddler and I saw a news item about a little girl from Milton Keynes, just a bit older than my daughter who has it. The LDA team also choose a different healthcare charity to support each year, we’re involved in that process at the moment, as a matter of fact.
What do you think are the greatest strengths of the company?
(Laughs) Oh, such a difficult question! Alright, we offer a different model in the medical market research sector. Our team provides a lot more actual experience specific to healthcare than is normally the case. Our moderators are hugely experienced; they tackle different therapy areas but they only do healthcare research.
I like the word ‘tenacious’; I think that’s one of our strengths. We don’t give up. We’ll always go the extra mile, put in the research, work all hours, to produce excellent results for clients. It’s part of the culture here that we’re all happy to put in a bit more effort on all our projects – we really care about the work we do.
You’ve successfully started and grown your own company, Lucy. What advice would you offer to other women wanting to do the same?
I started LDA Research when my children were still small. So there were quite a few nights when I’d get them to bed, and then have to put in a few hours work. It’s hard but you’re working towards something, so you find a way. The good thing about having your own business is that you can work around your own availability, so I got to spend much more time with my children growing up than I would have done working for someone else.
If it matters to you, you find a way to make it work.