Advancing the Value of Ethnography

Ethnography and Independent Consulting: Strategies for Surviving and Thriving



Our thid EPIC Talk on the latest strategies, opportunities, and challenges of gig work. Last year’s presentation covered how to get started, find work, make an impact, and navigate a career path—watch it here. This year, panelists from 4 countries addressed these topics with a specific focus on surviving and thriving in the context of major social change and economic flux around the world. By sharing wisdom and pragmatic strategies, we can build the collective support to succeed as creative, agile independents.


Corina Enache is a hybrid of two worlds, a strategist in product innovation and an MsC in cultural anthropology. She has been working as an anthropologist in the technology space for the last 4 years having led assignments for companies such as KLM, Wintec, PwC and Harmoney. She is also the co-host of the global podcast project The Human Show, where she interviews social scientists and industry people talking about their work in the technology space. She is the co-organiser of The Amsterdam Interbuilding Applied Anthropology Meetup group built in partnership with The University of Amsterdam. Currently she is Lead Organisational Development at Transavia where she is engaging as an anthropologist in a long-term project of organisational affect

Richa Rai started taking baby stepped into research world 18 years back in Delhi. Since then she has worked with leading agencies like Nielsen and TNS and across multiple geographies; Dubai is her semi-permanent abode. Her passion for travel and ethnography have taken her to some 60 countries. She founded her human-understanding-centric firm The Huban Tribe in 2015. Huban Tribe explores culture and people, evidencing it vividly through visual mediums like images and films. Having worked with clients like Ikea, Visa, GSK, Samsung, Al Marai, Du, Ooredoo in geographies like Middle East and Africa, her visually rich deliverables have helped client connect better with their consumers. Some of these country and target groups, like local Arabs in Saudi Arabia, are relatively difficult for ethnographic research but also provides unique opportunity, and The Huban Tribe initiated innovative ways of doing ethnography. It aims at being repository of visual data for diverse geography and demography.

A social scientist and ethnographer with a planner/strategic background, Laura Reiss is always aware and curious about people and sensitive to different culture universes. She has over 10 years of experience as a research using various methods and techniques, with a focus on qualitative and ethnographic approaches. Laura conducts a range of projects as freelancer for companies like Natura & Co and Johnson & Johnson, and for brand, innovation, and research consultancies like Insitum/Accenture, FutureBrand, Edelman Significa, and Locomotiva. Laura holds a degree in social sciences from the University of São Paulo, with a specialization in anthropology. She has also completed coursework in planning communication at Miami Ad School; marketing at ESPM-SP Brazil; and Innovation of Products and Services: MIT’s Approach to Design Thinking. Being a freelancer made it possible for Laura to have a flexible journey and dedicate part of her time as a mother of three boys.

Shelley Sather began her career as an applied Ethnographer in an unlikely but opportune place: on a financial commodities trading floor, where she witnessed the analog (open-outcry) markets being replaced with digital solutions from outside the US. There, she developed a deep and first-hand understanding of design amidst major market disruption. Hired from the trading floor to contextualize American trading sentiments for her European tech stakeholders, she was initiated real-time into how culture and environment quietly shape our beliefs and actions—and how to translate that into a business strategy. These niche beginnings led her to small, market making entrepreneurial ventures, and later, to well regarded innovation consultancies where she learned to apply agile, small-shop pluck to polished, complex global research & strategy engagements for Fortune 500 companies. As the principle of her own tiny but mighty one-woman practice – Shelley currently leverages Qualitative, context-driven methods to bring people into the heart of the design process, identify opportunity spaces and shape the expression of new things. Her clients are forward leaning companies looking to compliment their existing ‘big’ data’ endeavors with the stories, emotions, and social meaning that help them imagine futures and experiences that create real value for people, and growth that looks past the near term.

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