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Reed Cundiff, the newly-appointed CEO of Sago (formerly the Schlesinger Group), joins Sima to talk about how he got to where he is in his career and the exciting journey ahead of him.
Reed cut his teeth as a marketing analyst. He spent about ten years tracking the enterprise resource planning industry and then moved to Microsoft, where he ran global insights for almost twelve years. After that, he had the opportunity at Kantar to head an integrated team that initially ran the North American business and later all of the Americas.
Becoming the CEO of Sago
After managing the insights team at Kantar for a long time, learning a lot, and going through multiple business cycles, Reed jumped at the opportunity of becoming CEO of the Schlesinger Group, now known as Sago.
What attracted Reed to Schlesinger?
Three things attracted Reed to the idea of running Schlesinger. The first was that he felt there was a lot he could learn from his role as a stand-alone CEO and from looking at the industry from a different angle. He liked the family-oriented culture of the business and was also fascinated with the opportunities that a business with that much breadth could offer.
Ramping up on understanding what a complex business is was challenging for Reed. The macroeconomic headwinds in the market also made it hard for him to go in as a CEO in mid-November of 2022 and help his clients be as proactive as possible. Fortunately, Steve Schlesinger, the former CEO, did a great job of staying connected to the business and educating Reed rapidly while also giving him the space to step into the opportunity of his new role.
On an ideal day, Reed strives to balance three things:
- Engaging internally and ensuring his teams have whatever they need to be successful and operate at peak performance.
- Engaging with clients and ensuring he does not lose touch with any of them.
- Making sure he has the time to do his work and fit in some exercise.
The changing landscape
Reed finds this an exciting time to be an insights professional! He has found it interesting to see how technology has transformed how people do their work. He believes that the digital transformation of the industry will change the way the industry evolves. He feels that the volume and variety of raw materials that insights professionals take into their work will expand to include financial data, behavioral data, cultural data, location data, and more. So essentially, the raw materials and organizations are changing, and Reed hopes the way insights get delivered is also changing.
Data science versus market research
Reed neither favors data science over market research, nor vice versa, because he feels they are both needed to gain momentum in the market.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion
Reed feels that the industry, as a whole, is not yet where it needs to be in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion. So the entire industry should commit to improving every day. What he intends to do at Sago is begin promoting from within and proactively ensuring that they have as diverse an applicant pool as possible. He also wants to support his employee research groups and make sure they facilitate open dialogues around gender equality, social inclusivity, mental health awareness, and other topics to ensure that all their employees can show up for work every day without being distracted.
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