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This week, we sat down with Yang Zhang, a Research + Analytics Director and the first member of our growing China team, to talk about how he ended up in research and analytics, the three skills essential to his role, and his #1 passion project. Enjoy!

What’s your role at Edelman Intelligence? What kind of work do you do?

Excitingly, I was the first official EI hire in our China office. My role at EI has been to establish our capabilities and reputation in the office and expand our business in the market. This essentially breaks down into four key parts: extending our products and solutions to new and existing clients in China, handle the Chinese portion of our global and regional projects – collaborating with colleagues cross-office, develop local research and data partnerships to fit the needs of our local market here, and help establish and build an EI team in China.

Previous places of employment?

Prior to EI, I worked at Publicis Media China in Beijing as a Data and Insights Director. The focus of my role there was on building and growing data partnerships and data-related product development. Before Publicis Media, I worked at Kantar Media TGI China in Beijing and Shanghai. Before that, I worked at Omega International Consulting in Texas, USA.

You came to Edelman Intelligence because…

In July 2018, a Hungarian gentleman called me saying, “there is an amazing opportunity to develop a brand-new business from 0 to 1. I think you shouldn’t miss it.” And the rest is history.

Describe Edelman Intelligence in three words.

Diversified, interesting, (a) family

Working in research and analytics: accident or design?

Actually, it was by accidental design… I had dreamed of becoming a pharmacist but failed to enter medical school. I then turned to psychology and was impressed by a credo that said: “what made modern psychology unique? Scientific research method.” This credo not only shaped psychology but also my own way of thinking. When looking for a job, it became a strength for me and guided me step-by-step into the commercial research world.

Describe your typical work day in 5 emojis or less:

#1 passion project you are working on right now:

Just recently, our team proposed a new study for the EI Thought Leadership Challenge, an internal competition to help identify the best pieces of thought leadership and create opportunities for teams to work collaboratively on passion projects. Our study is called ‘City Branding’ and the proposal is based on the principle that people should be proud of the city they live in. For me, it would be super interesting and meaningful to deep-dive into the perspectives of one city as told by people living in other cities. The EI Thought Leadership Challenge is a blank canvas for our people to generate thought leadership they are passionate about – and this was the perfect opportunity for me to submit my own passion project.

In your opinion, the coolest thing happening in the world of intelligence right now is…

… The Internet of Things. Think about it: with the help of Internet and technology, we are able to control and influence objects near and far. It has created many possibilities and changed the traditional definition of intelligence.

A culture of collaboration must…

… be built on trust, clear purposes, and mutual benefit.

What three skills do you think are essential to fulfill your role?

Being able to consider and anticipate others’ needs, filling in the gaps between the “promised scenario” and the “actual situation”, and of course – being patient and resilient during the ups and downs, key to anyone who finds themselves in a ground-up operation in a new market.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever given or received?

There’s no such thing as a stupid question.

To explore careers at EI, click here.

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