Square Holes Profile: Kellen Ewens

The Square Holes team are made up of a cohort of researchers and inquisitive minds, poised to sink their teeth into the complex problems of our clients, to deliver insights and a roadmap forward for brands and organisations alike.

For newly minted Doctor of Digital Advertising, Dr Kellen Ewens uses skateboarding, collaborative learning and a passion for strategy to drive his work.

Mahalia: What drew you to this sort of work?

Kellen: When I was plotting my life at the ripe age of about 13 or 14, I started to look at my skills and weaknesses. I struggled a little bit with numbers when I was coming up as a kid, but I was always pretty good at language and expressing myself. So, I sort of decided to be quite strategic. I said, ‘what’s an industry or a job that allows me to do a little bit of both at the same time?’ And that led me to psychology. Since completing my undergrad degree in a Bachelor of Psychological Science, I found a home in statistics where I could use my language skills to describe complex numerical insights. Although I didn’t feel the pull of clinical work, I was fascinated by understanding people’s behaviour, which led me to market research. I did my Honours in looking at psychological traits around how just and fair we view the world. And can you use that as a potential metric for segmenting different customer groups? So, you can imagine how perfect a fit Square Holes is for me! The numbers are our bread and butter, but we contextualize those numbers with words and it’s about human experience. It’s a sort of Venn diagram of numbers, words, people, and put it together and here I am – in the industry and at Square Holes.

Kellen Ewens, photo by Thomas McCammon

M: What aspect of your job do you enjoy the most?

K: Prior to Square Holes, I worked primarily with aggregated data. That’s really interesting, because it is complex and in depth, but you kind of lose the little guy. With Square Holes, I was recently sitting in a client meeting and they said that our efforts are directly tying into their remuneration efforts and how they pay their workers. That was a huge wake up call for me at the time – that what we’re doing has a direct and measurable impact on people’s lives.

M: What’s a current obsession you have?

K: My current and always obsession is skateboarding. I could wax lyrical about skateboarding all day and I certainly do on my weekends. I view it as something that’s quite complementary to research, as research is slow and contemplative and skateboarding is generally fast and impulsive. I like that I use my brain differently when I am skateboarding. It’s more reactive and in the moment.

M: What would you like to learn more about?

K: I’ve thought about this a lot. I think probably the strategy is what I really would like to know a lot more about. To be a great worker is one thing, but to be able to package your work and your insights in a really interesting and compelling way is almost more important than being able to do the research insights in the first place.

M: What’s something you have discovered about yourself since working at Square Holes?

K: For most of my study, it’s been quite insular. It was very much an independent study and I was an independent learner. And I think that sort of suits my temperament in some respects. But coming into Square Holes, I’ve been really enjoying the communal aspect of the work. And also, as a smaller team, I’m enjoying the opportunity to rise to the occasion, and work collaboratively.

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