Be passionately curious with Kim-Lee de Vries

If you are you interested in market research as a career path? Then we encourage you to read this article. We were lucky enough to have a Q&A session with Kim-Lee de Vries, Director of Operations, at Bateleur Brand Planning and she has left us feeling inspired and passionately curious. Kim believes in the saying “Say yes even when you don’t know how to do something, and then figure it out later”. Kim has worked in various company departments and has a good sense of how every aspect of the business works. The skills she has learned from various team members are invaluable and have contributed to her success. Find out more about her world and her career journey over here.


Organisational questions:


  • What type of work do you do? 

We conduct market research to hear from employees and consumers to establish a strategy to assure the success of our customers’ businesses.


  • How did you get into this line of work?

This was my first job, which I began in 2009 as a temporary worker, and I learned a great deal. It may have been a “fluke” that I got the position, but I wouldn’t want to work in any other industry.


  • Is your industry female or male-dominated, and how did you stand out?

The industry is relatively balanced regarding gender representation at a global level. Still, in South Africa, it is a more female-dominated industry. In our company, 80% of members are female.


  • How long have you been at this company for, and what has your career progression look like here?

I began in 2009 as a temporary employee performing administrative tasks like conducting interviews and quality control checks. I joined the organisation permanently in 2010 and held the position of Research Analyst. I became a shareholder and director in 2017. My shareholding grew in 2021, and I was promoted to Director of Sales and Marketing. The title changed to Director of Operations in 2022–2023 (overseeing all facets of the company).


  • What recommendations do you have for other young women looking to enter your industry?

Don’t rely solely on your work outputs to speak for you. Vocalise your thoughts, opinions and frustrations.


  • What is the one thing you absolutely love about your organisation?

Our business is small and personal, we care deeply about each client and project, and we have developed close relationships with our clients due to our strategic alignment and partnership with them even after the research has been delivered.


  • Why should other women join your industry?

The fundamental character trait a market researcher must have I would say that it is to be passionately curious. The Boston University School of Mechanical Engineering reports that around 84% of its graduates are men. Conversely, the British Psychology Society reported that around 80% of Psychology undergraduate students are women. If we stick to looking at the field of psychology, then females are more curious about people.

At the same time, males are more curious about things. With the prevalence of women seeking safer working spaces, ones where they can be valued as professionals and not as objects, I think that an industry dominated by women is highly attractive. In an industry like market research, where other women surround you, the work environment tends to be more freeing and less riddled by scandals.


  • Are you currently hiring, and where can other women go to, to apply for roles within your organisation?

We are always on the lookout for new ideas and vitality. Several of the duties at our organisation need ad hoc or girl Friday work, which may potentially lead to additional growth and development with us. Email your CV to or call 021 558 4481




Personal questions:

  • What motivates you?

My kids 😊


  • What do you do differently to give yourself the competitive edge?

I constantly strive to put myself into my work.


  • Are you a mother, and if so, how do you balance being a full-time mother and leader, and how do you believe corporate SA can empower mothers to achieve more balance?

I am a single parent of two kids, ages 14 and 10. Having a strong work ethic is one of the things I have taught them. You’ll appreciate your work better if you’re passionate about it. Work is a part of life, so I’ve given up on achieving a work-life balance.


  • How do you manage criticism? 

It depends on the intention; if I want to learn from my mistakes to grow, I welcome it; if it is out of spite or competition, then not so well.

  • How do you motivate and inspire your people?

I believe that my experience is motivational in and of itself because I joined the company when I was very young and learned everything I knew through working there. I don’t have a degree, but through hard work, effort, and a desire to learn, I was able to advance to the positions of shareholder and director with the company.


  • What has been your biggest failure in your career, and what did you learn from it?

Not listening to my gut and making decisions on the go. I hesitate and doubt myself and my choices at times, resulting in lost opportunities and wasted time.


  • Is there anything you wish you had done differently on your journey to success?

I wish I had said yes to opportunities that intimidated me and pushed me out of my comfort zone.


  • Do you believe in power dressing?

When you feel good about yourself, I believe you come across as confident. Power dressing does that for some people, including myself, so yes.


  • What advice would you give to young people entering your industry?

Accept the challenges that will take you outside of your comfort zone.




Career questions:


  • What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given regarding your career?

“Say yes even when you don’t know how to do something, and then figure it out later”.


  • How did you master your skillset?

Learning in real-time (practically) and making mistakes!


  • What is your leadership style, and who taught you how to lead?

I prefer to lead rather than instruct because I enjoy working with people who bring their ideas and creativity.

  • What are your three biggest assets that you bring into your role?

  1. Attention to detail and organisational skills
  2. Creative thinking and execution
  3. Passion and energy


  • The budget speech took place on 22 February. Do any of those announcements impact your industry, and if so, how?

Market research is seen to be a low priority. It is removed or reduced from clients’ budgets if the economy is performing poorly and their budgets are constrained. It takes a while for most businesses, especially SMEs like our company, to recover from the lack of work, which significantly impacts our industry and business.


  • We see that millennials and Gen Z’s are job hopping every 2-3 years citing mental health and toxic working environments. What advice do you have for someone unhappy in their organisation or struggling with their mental health due to work-related pressures?

If an environment or the people within are unhealthy, then leave. Still, I would recommend working through the problems first if it is possible to resolve them.


  • How important do you believe upskilling is, and what type of upskilling do you promote / advise?

Incredibly important, I have worked in various company departments and have a good sense of how every aspect of the business works because of it. The skills I learned from various team members are invaluable and have contributed to my success.


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Contact details: 021 558 4481


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