Industry Profile: Nichola Quail at Insights Exchange

By AdNews | 9 May 2024

In this series, AdNews takes a look at some of the professionals working across the advertising, adtech, marketing and media sector in Australia. This time it's Insights Exchange founder and CEO Nichola Quail.

Time in current role:

Insights Exchange was launched in 2020 - so we are marking the fourth successful year of our start-up! Overall I have been in the market research industry in Australia and New Zealand for 25 years as a consultant and also having worked agency side at ANOP and Galileo Kaleidoscope (now Fiftyfive5 - part of Accenture Song).

How would you describe what the company does?

At Insights Exchange, we connect fast growth businesses with the power of global research and insights. We are a one-stop-shop for research services, but are disrupting the traditional model in that all our research partners are independent contractors. We hold a unique place in the marketing industry in that we act as a professional conduit between our clients and our research partners. Whether our client wants to better understand their target audience, test a new product, explore a new market or measure a brand’s competitive positioning, we can offer cost-effective research solutions and access to specialists they wouldn’t normally be able to find. We run research projects globally and have around +35 contractors in our network now.

What do you do day to day?

Gosh - every day is certainly different! This morning it was a client presentation at 7:30am with stakeholders across Australia, NZ, UK and the US, followed by a meeting with a NZ client branching out into the US market followed by more meetings with client and my direct team, and finalising a number of upcoming proposals. I’m also part of many Founder Advisory Groups, so it’s fantastic to have a close-knit network of peers I connect with weekly that helps steer conversations and small-business advice from a like-minded community.

Define your job in one word:


I got into the industry because:

I loved politics and learning about how people and different populations think and behave. In market research you get to do that for a living. It’s a privilege to be let into people’s homes and understand what makes people tick.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your role?

Managing a fast growth business as a first time female founder.

What’s the biggest industry wide challenge you’d like to see tackled?

Raising awareness of the significant impact market research can have on business success. We don’t do a good enough job of marketing our own industry. I won’t say AI as that is a global challenge!

Who has been a great mentor to you and why?

Linda Jenkinson. Linda is a multiple female founder from NZ that has made a significant impact globally and was the youngest woman to list on the Nasdaq. She has walked the walk and has helped me get the confidence to forge this path and get rid of limiting beliefs.

Words of advice for someone wanting a job like yours?

Starting a business is hard. Staying in business is harder. Becoming profitable and bootstrapping takes full commitment. You have to want it more than others and be ready and willing to invest everything - financially, emotionally and physically. Also, don’t try to do it all. Get amazing people that are better at certain things than you are. Learn to delegate and let go.

If I wasn’t doing this for a living, I'd be:

A full time keynote speaker or part of a political think tank.

My philosophy is:

Don’t overthink it, which is why I follow the 80/20 rule - 80% is good enough - get it done and move on.

My favourite advert is:

The Specsavers series is pretty funny and I’ll always be a sucker for the Qantas Choir (even though I’m a Kiwi). I’m waiting for AirNZ to release their new safety video - they always do an amazing job!

Music and TV streaming habits: What do you subscribe to?

I have a bunch of podcasts on the go - Steven Bartlett’s Diary of a CEO, Tony Robbins, Mel Robbins, Tim Ferris. I’m listening to the Artist SOHN a lot and then when I need a pick me up - switch to NZ’s George FM on the Rova App (electronic/dance/drum & bass).

Waiting for S3 of House of Dragon, ‘And Just Like That’, Hacks and gutted there is no more Stranger Things :-(

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?

They might know it, but haven’t seen me in action - I will be first and last on the dance floor! If ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ is playing - I may even be in the middle of it.

In five years time, I'll be:

I’ll be founder of a global market research business.

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