Where are They Now?

Nick Lembach

Senior Research Associate for PlugInsights

"While I was in the I-O program at CSU, I had the good fortune to already have wet my feet in the world of consumer research. As I was finishing up my coursework, I again benefited from the CIRP network.  Thanks to Dr. Bowen, I accepted a part-time role at another Cleveland-based research firm.  My position there later became full-time. When we were overwhelmed with projects and need extra help, I was glad “to pass it on” by making sure another promising CSU student would get the role.  I had my own selfish reasons, too.  By bringing in a student that had learned from the same professors as I did, I knew what we were getting and that it was a safe bet.

My performance at the research firm caught the attention of a client that was in need of filling a vacancy in their customer insights department.  I accepted the position and 2 weeks later I was relocated Los Angeles to work in the Customer Insights Department of Guitar Center, the world’s largest retailer of musical instruments and equipment.  There, I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity of the research I had the opportunity to undertake.  I had previously held the misconception that research conducted for a company internally would be inherently boring.  Instead, the research we conducted had extremely broad scope and was ceaselessly interesting.  One day, I’d be in the office writing a customer satisfaction survey or analyzing market share data, and the next day I’d be sitting at a table of musicians in Austin, conducting a focus group to prep for a segmentation.  All the while, we maintained an ongoing transactional customer satisfaction program for around 250 brick-and-mortar stores as well as for 3 retail websites.  When I wasn’t monitoring the 100,000 or so phone surveys we commissioned each year, I was busy maintaining a handful of large (50,000+) customer panels for the plethora of brands under the Guitar Center umbrella. 

Despite the laid-back nature of the company, just the right amount of travel and interesting research projects, I decided to accept a position at a promising startup working with a respected colleague, Norman Hajjar, whose insights team I had worked on at Guitar Center.  As the senior research associate for PlugInsights, I currently conduct research focused solely on the plug-in electric vehicle market.  During my time here, I’ve really enjoyed learning about emerging vehicle technology while also taking on a great deal of knowledge of the automotive industry in general.  The research I conduct now winds up on the desks of the decision-makers for major automotive manufactures, government agencies, utility companies, vehicle charging networks, and, often, the general public via an assortment news sources.  I enjoy what I do and I don’t for a moment take for granted that I can trace where I’m at today all the way back to the connections I made as a graduate student at CSU."

Karen Hudzinski

Customer Engagement Analyst at Macy's Inc.

"I earned by M.A. in Psychology through the Consumer-Industrial Research Program in 2014 (now Industrial and Organizational Research Program).  During my second year, I enjoyed an internship at a local market research firm in Cleveland where I provided support for analytics and reporting for customer satisfaction and brand awareness surveys.  In July 2014, I began a position as an analyst for Macy’s Inc. in New York City in the Market Research department as a member of the Customer Engagement team.  This team is responsible for the design, maintenance, and strategic insightfulness of our customer satisfaction survey program that spans all transactional touchpoints for Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s.  I am involved with analytics and reporting of customer satisfaction data and with communicating actionable insights to our partners and stakeholders who utilize the data to inform their decisions for understanding and improving their respective businesses."