Reflections on a return to the ICG

26 Jun 2024 | ICG News & Announcements

Article by returning member Tracey White, White Insight


It’s exciting, weird – and I won’t deny, a little scary to be back. It also feels like I’ve come home after a long trip away without much contact with my much-loved family. I’m wondering what took me so long.

I’ve always told people (and it’s true in my head) that I’ve spent most of my career running my own business/freelancing but I’ve just calculated that after 40 years in the industry (which considering I’m only 39 doesn’t ‘compute’) I’ve been employed agency-side for 28 years and only worked independently for 12. So I’m having to re-evaluate my self-image.

It’s already 12 years since I shut up shop at Fizz Research, left the ICG, and got myself a ‘proper job’. At the time, this return to employment was barely conscious – rather, it was driven by…

  1. boredom – or more accurately a need to get out of the house, the desire to put on ‘grown up’ clothes and get – not only a regular salary – but also a pension (perhaps I’m a bit older than 39) – and
  2. b) laziness… my client base had dwindled to just 3 or 4 regular buyers who were keeping me (more than sufficiently) busy when the most dependable one announced they’d been bought out – by a big, fancy London Ad. agency – and they needed a Head of Insight. I was offered the job, and if I didn’t take it, that income stream would likely dry up. I’d be facing a daunting new biz drive and I just didn’t have the appetite for the inevitable ‘hustle’.

And it worked extremely well for 9 years… less well for the last 3. You’ll all be aware of the many (potential) pros of being employed; I hardly need to list them. If you’re working for a decent company with authentic ‘lived’ values, and savvy yet fair senior management, all well and good. But if your employers’ values don’t match your own, its only a question of time… that is, if you’re fortunate enough to jump ship and be able to take what is always, to some extent, a risk.

So here I am. Not only is the ICG perhaps 4 times bigger than when I was last in the club (meaning 4 times the expertise and collaboration opportunities), it’s even changed its name (which I love btw). The new branding, the website (and its functionality), the diversity of members and the many varied and thought-provoking events – are all such valuable benefits. At just over £100/year, it was a ‘no brainer’ to re-join. The MRS and AQR will have to wait ‘till my first WhiteInsight invoice is paid (and I’m very unimpressed that re-joining the MRS means I’ll have to stump up £220 for the first year).

The e-group asks are reassuringly similar: it’s such a joy to see the many requests for regionally based individual/independent recruiters… my most recent employment had me convinced qual is now entirely online, asynchronous and panel recruited! Oh the joy of the prospect of engaging with real respondents f2f and being pretty confident they really are who they claim to be! I can’t wait.

Scared to be back? Scratch that – I’m completely happy! I’m also really looking forward to 11th July when I hope to re-connect with some of those who are still here from 12+ years ago. And say Hello to many more new faces, who have chosen the freedom of an independent life.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.


Tracey White; WhiteInsight.