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Member Spotlight – Susan Saurage-Altenloh, PhD

22 Sep Posted by in Cactus Call | Comments Off on Member Spotlight – Susan Saurage-Altenloh, PhD
Member Spotlight – Susan Saurage-Altenloh, PhD



Susan Saurage-Altenloh, PhD

Chief Insights Officer

Saurage Research, Inc.

Houston, TX

Baton Rouge, LA

Years in the market research industry:

36 total – 30 with Saurage and 6 with previous MR firm in Louisiana

What duties does your current job position include?

Balancing client objectives, budgets, and methodologies while maintaining partner capabilities that respond to client needs. Maintaining knowledge about the most innovative platforms, methods, theories, and field capabilities. Okay, business development is in there, too.

What’s the best aspect of your current job position?

Love, love, love delivering insights that allow the client to take action that is reflected in selected KPIs and other metrics. Boom!

…and the worst (if there is one)?

Someone needs to invent more hours in the day. Please?

What do you see coming in the market research industry during the next five years?

Who isn’t thrilled about how global connectivity through technological advances has improved the quality of research over the last 25 years while ensuring a faster delivery date? It makes our world easier! Expect new field collection models that capture respondents in their preferred environments. Consumers will respond more readily to increased flexibility in when and how they deliver insights. B2B research is expanding even as IT security is tightening, driving panel managers to find new ways to identify business participants. We anticipate increased client participation in the field (onsite, recruiting, etc.). Finally, reporting will continue to tighten as clients ask for refined, succinct, visually stimulating summaries that direct their next actions.

How did you first come to work in market research?

While in pre-law at LSU, I took a summer job with a two-person research company. I was so hooked by the time I received my first paycheck.

What led to you to joining the MRA?

The MRA policy regarding ethical behaviors toward respondents and clients really spoke to me when Saurage Research was incorporated in 1987. This standard represented the core of how we approached our work at a time when many MR firms in Louisiana exhibited questionable ethics and practices in fieldwork.

To what other professional organizations do you belong?

American Marketing Association, American Advertising Federation, Qualitative Research Consultants Association, American Statistical Association.

What is your educational background?

After being advanced a grade in childhood, I came to my university degrees late. After partying out of LSU in Baton Rouge, I eventually earned a BBA in business from Houston Baptist University (magna cum laude) at 39 years of age. Once I got the hang of it, I quickly secured an MBA from The University of Texas at Austin (hook ‘em, Horns!) in 2002 before earning a PhD from Capella in 2017 (in marketing, with special academic distinction). Future academic endeavors are limited to Spanish and wine appreciation.

Where else have you worked in the past – including non-MR positions?

So many places to share but the most significant was a Louisiana research firm for six years as veep before establishing Saurage Research. I had a diverse series of fun jobs before that: scooping ice cream at Baskin-Robbins, bouncer at Chelsea Street Pub in the 1970s (there are hilarious stories), architectural draftsman, photo clerk at a camera store (we got to see all of the police scene photos – ugh), law firm trial support, executive assistant, department store retail clerk, selling feathered hatbands at popular nightclub Cat Ballou’s during the boot-scooting craze, bowling alley staffer, checker at Kroger, and applying huge brand decals to the sides of trucks and trailers…with a squeegee. Yeah, sort of different.

What do you do in your spare time – hobbies or activities?

I’m a gourmet cook (from scratch) so I prepare a lot of great food for friends and family, including homemade bread each week. I’m a voracious reader (almost a book a day), from business tomes to historical novels to fantasy series to popular fiction. Workouts, gun range practice, music (from Metallica to Mozart), fashion and fast cars round it out.

Do you have any unusual talents?

Multitasking is easy to handle. I’m an excellent seamstress – used to make all of my dress-for-success suits! (I made those requisite floppy silk ties, too.) Gordon Ramsey and Bobby Flay are two of my many culinary heroes: I’m really talented in the kitchen. When asked how I find time, it’s fun to remind friends that cooking and working out are my top destressing activities. They seem to cancel each other out.

What would others be surprised to know about you?

For those who don’t know me: My motorcycle-class license sits right next to my Concealed Handgun License and I never leave the office or house without a firearm, even when we are headed to the opera. Also, I’m a gearhead as well as a research nerd. I used to rebuild big block engines and bolt on headers to fit into F-bodies on the weekends. I crave powerful vehicles that go fast.

For those who DO know me: Advanced right on up to black belt in Taekwondo then dropped it entirely? Member of MENSA since I was a teen? Read the entire encyclopedia on rainy days as a grade-schooler? How about this: I performed in a touring Christian rock band in the 1970s. The girls wore white patent-leather knee high boots and blue eye shadow. Gaah.

Favorite book or movie?

Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings – why choose? Read The Dark Tower 7-book series by Stephen King more than ten years ago and it’s still one of the best series… right up there with Jordan/Sanderson’s The Wheel of Time series (12 books!).

What is your ideal vacation?

Airstream and motorcycle by a burbling, brisk creek in the Rockies during the summer, with an entire favorite series begging to be read (or reread) while relaxing outdoors with an adult brown beverage.

Final comment or quotable:

Live every day like it may be your last: be kind; speak carefully; eschew greed; pay it forward; contribute to your legacy. We cannot presume to know what opportunity, surprise, or tragedy will change our lives tomorrow.