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Insights into the way a futurist thinks: Speaker interview with Jennifer Brace, Chief Futurist at Ford

Insights into the way a futurist thinks: Speaker interview with Jennifer Brace, Chief Futurist, Ford

At MRMW we are constantly on the lookout for new and exciting speakers that can bring fresh thinking and ideas to the MR community. So we are very excited to have confirmed Jennifer Brace, Chief Futurist at Ford Motor company as our opening speaker for MRMW NA 2024! A

MRMW: We are very excited to have you as our opening keynote speaker at this year’s MRMW NA in Atlanta. Without giving too much away, can you give us a sneak peek into your very interesting talk on ‘Thinking like a Futurist?

Jennifer: Of course, with a title like ‘futurist’ I get some questionable looks from people when they find out what I do. Often there’s a mix of wonder and skepticism. This talk is designed to provide some insight into the way a futurist thinks and more importantly provide simple tips about how anyone can add a futures mindset to their daily work.

MRMW: Can you shed some light on the intersection of trends, foresight, futures and insights? How different is futures from foresight and why is it important for consumer insights?
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Jennifer Brace, Chief Futurist, Ford Motor Company

Jennifer: There’s a lot of terms used interchangeably in the industry right now. The most scientific approach is strategic foresight which has a clear set of steps to help teams build robust strategies and take actionable steps towards their future. Trends certainly provide an input to the process, we combine them with uncertainties to build our future scenarios. The importance to consumer insights is recognizing that if we only look at how consumers feel today we will miss innovation opportunities to meet their needs in the future. Consumers and our business environments are constantly changing and foresight helps us to be better prepared for those changes.

MRMW: What role does futures play in innovation?

Jennifer: Futures can provide beneficial areas of ideation when looking for new ideas. They also set a stage to stress test your strategies to identify blind spots early. Identifying and building solutions to those potential blind spots creates another opportunity to innovate.

MRMW: The cultural piece is gaining center stage in the world of insights and market research? How important is it in your role as a chief futurist?

Jennifer: It’s a critical piece of the puzzle as we try to understand what forces will shape the world we have to operate within. Part of understanding how consumers feel about a technology, social issues, regulations, etc. includes understanding the different cultural responses to it. All perspectives should be taken into account to help us imagine what the future may look like.

MRMW: What motivates you to join MRMW NA 2024 and what are your expectations?

Jennifer: The conference has an exciting focus on innovation and building strong research for the future. I’m thrilled to be part of the community pushing new tools and ways of approaching research.

MRMW: What does Jennifer like to do outside of work?

Jennifer: My happy place is playing volleyball in the sand. That’s what I do for me but my other passion is an organization called NMDP – formerly Be The Match. That organization helped my son find a bone marrow donor in 2022 and today he’s a happy thriving 5 yr old. I spend time as a volunteer with the organization as I look for ways to give back. I would encourage anyone curious to check out their great work and consider donating.

MRMW: Thank you very much Jennifer. We look forward to seeing you in the future…hang on…at MRMW 2024 of course!

Join MRMW on June 26&27 in Atlanta to get your market research strategy future ready. Listen to and learn from brands like Ford, Google, Mars, Walmart, Kraft Heinz, Reddit, Linkedin, McDonald’s, Samsung, Universal and many more. Find the full speaker list and agenda at

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Jens Cornelissen

Jens Cornelissen has been writing for over two decades – initially for general newspapers in his home country Germany. After receiving an MA degree in Communications, he joined a new media start-up in Amsterdam as consultant on new media technologies and country editor for two daily newsletters. In his current day job, Jens runs the global conference division for Merlien’s dedicated marketing research events. Jens is a trained journalist with a BA in Journalism from Westminster University in London and has authored several media industry reports and articles on mobile and media technology.

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