Freelance Researchers—Making It and Sustaining It

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December 7, 2017, 11:00am–12:30pm PST
Free online event, pre-registration & EPIC Membership required, max 100 participants

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Are you building a freelance research or consulting career—or dreaming about it? Join seasoned and successful freelancers Anthony and Shelley for a presentation and discussion about the highs and lows of working as a freelance researcher in industry. They will share their own stories of taking the leap from employee to freelancer and offer tips on getting started, finding work, and staying (in)sane. You'll also explore some of the challenges freelancers face in maintaining a career path, managing commitments, and staying connected.


Anthony Alvarez has been working as a user experience and research consultant for over 15 years, using contextual, online and facility-based methods to develop useful insights for product, service and experience design. He frequently collaborates with technology, innovation and strategy firms to organize and execute qualitative research programs ranging from exploratory ethnographic studies to remote usability testing. As a strategic thinker with a broad range of interests, Anthony enjoys taking on problems across the fields of design innovation, user interaction, and brand communications. Over the past decade, Anthony has developed a specialization in healthcare topics such as brand development, the patient journey, drug adherence, and physician detailing. He also continues to work on problems across a number of industry categories, including retail, CPG, automotive, consumer electronics and professional services. Anthony's freelance career has frequently been interrupted by extended stays at a number of great firms, beginning with the research and design strategy firm E-Lab in 1999, continuing on to Sapient/X-Mod, Fiori (industrial design and strategy), Hall & Partners (brand communications) and Acquity Group (user experience, now part of Fjord/Accenture).

Shelley Sather is an independent NY-based ethnographer and human-centered innovation consultant. She began her research career in commodities software design in the early 2000s, just as the analog (open-outcry) markets in Chicago were being replaced with digital solutions from outside the US. There, she developed a deep understanding of design amidst major market disruption and cultural unknowns. And she hasn't looked back. These niche beginnings led her to various posts across well-regarded consultancies in Chicago (Hall & Partners, gravitytank) and New York (VSA Partners), and eventually to the establishment of her own tiny but mighty consulting business. Shelley has guest lectured on applied ethnography and innovation at Northwestern University's Segal Design Institute and The University of Chicago, and has served on design review panels at IIT's Institute of Design. Her favorite question right now is, "What do you think future of [blank] should be?"