Pivotal Research brings 25 years of excellence in market research and evaluation services to decision makers across Canada and beyond.

Pivotal Focus Group Research

Pivotal Focus Group Research

Based in Edmonton, Pivotal Research, Inc. is a national provider of research consulting services with more than 25 years of experience delivering market research and evaluation excellence to decision makers across multiple industries. 

We are solution enablers going beyond intelligence to unlock success for our business, government and non-profit sector clients. We leverage our deep expertise in the design and implementation of innovative research that enables our client’s growth and innovation potential. 

We deliver an integrated suite of quantitative and qualitative research consulting services through market research, public engagement, and evaluation and assessment. Annually, we conduct over 150,000 surveys and hundreds of in-depth interviews and focus group Edmonton discussions from various research projects that we undertake on behalf of our clients.

Pivotal Research delivers high-impact actionable insights that enable evidence-based strategic action. Our clients confidently take back our pivotal solutions and strategic recommendations to the boardroom or out to the public.   

We bring passion to all of our research initiatives ensuring that data-driven evidence makes a tangible impact on communities.  Pivotal Research is committed to examining research issues from a local citizen lens and upholding inclusion and diversity as key tenets for the way we conduct business. 

Our mission at Pivotal Research is delivering high-impact market intelligence and actionable insights that enable evidence-based strategic action by business leaders and policymakers across Canada and beyond.

We strive to become the go-to source in North America for evidence-based insights that enable smart policies and business decisions for thriving and happy communities and citizens.

Our Team

Our core team and associates bring years of corporate and government experience and subject matter expertise in International Business, Strategy, Public Policy, Statistics, Healthcare, Workforce and Skills Development, Community Engagement, Public Participation, Graphic Design, and Information Technology. 

Jihad Melhem


Doha Melhem

Vice President of Consulting & Chief Evaluator

Jessica DeVries

Director of Research Operations

Shay Sharma

Technology & Innovation Lead

Emma Martin

Senior Research Analyst

Rainer Kocsis

Senior Research Analyst

Stella Igweamaka

Research Operations Specialist

Manish Yadav

Data Scientist

Kseniia Hladkikh, M.A.

Research Analyst

Leona Boss

Office Administrator

Manish Yadav

Data Scientist

Emily McGoey

Business Analyst

Client Commitment

Pivotal Research is committed to delivering high-quality market research consulting services on time and within budget, providing our clients options and tiered research solutions to unlock insights and enable their success. Perhaps for these reasons, much of our work is repeat business. We have a reputation for making every effort to understand a client’s business and for “going the extra mile,” particularly when it becomes necessary to accommodate issues unforeseen by a client. We are known as having both the “big picture” view and the attention to detail which allow our client’s full confidence in the value and quality of our research.

Name and Credentials:  Jihad Melhem, MBA.

Role: President

Leadership and Project Management | Research Design and Methodology | Advanced Analytics | Sampling Techniques

What Jihad Brings to the Table

For 20 years, Jihad has served as a trusted resource for senior leaders in the public and private sectors on how research can support service delivery initiatives and help meet growth objectives.

Jihad holds a Bachelor of Science in Statistics from the University of Alberta and an MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University. He also completed advanced marketing research certificates through the University of Georgia and the University of Notre Dame.

Before rejoining Pivotal Research as president, Jihad served as Director of Global Market Research at Sun Life and Vice President of Business Development at Morpace International (now Escalent). Throughout his career, he has led high-impact strategic research projects in healthcare, financial services, transportation, not-for-profit and public sectors.

As President, Jihad leads the Pivotal Research team to ensure high-calibre consulting and research assignments. He is an expert at designing creative and effective research methodologies that leverage the latest technology tools. Further, Jihad excels at translating data into actionable insights that influence policy change and positive business outcomes.

Jihad has been both a conference committee member and speaker at several LIMRA marketing and research events. He has also been a feature speaker at the IAP2 annual global conference.

The Fun Stuff

Jihad enjoys accompanying his three boys on skating rinks and on soccer fields in his spare time. He is also a passionate and curious world traveller. While he loves the bustling streets of Buenos Aires, Hong Kong and Istanbul, he hopes to explore the Luangwa National Park or Masai Mara on a thrilling safari in the near future. 

Name and Credentials: Doha A. Melhem, MPP

Role: Vice President of Consulting & Chief

Government Consulting | Business Strategy | Public Policy | Program Evaluation | Stakeholder Engagement Research | Recommendation-Development

What Doha brings to the Table

Doha leads government consulting and business development and is the Chief Evaluator at Pivotal Research, Inc. She comes with more than 18 years of experience helping government and non-profit leaders in Canada and the United States unlock their full potential through evidence-based decision-making, program evaluation, and the design and execution of strategic policy and change initiatives. She leverages this expertise in her current role going “beyond the data” to enable high-impact solutions for public policy and business challenges, ultimately making her a strong asset on any research project Pivotal Research undertakes.

In her previous role at the U.S. Department of Labor, Doha led policy teams towards successful implementation and communication of critical skills development initiatives. She has a track record of exemplary performance and achievement awards in recognition of effective design, strategic communication, and coordination of policy and legislative proposals on economic recovery, skills development, postsecondary education, immigrant integration, free trade, international affairs, veterans’ affairs, and older workers.

Doha sits on the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce’s Workforce Development Committee and brings her extensive experience and passion for shaping workforce policies that lead to thriving workers, businesses, and communities. She is also a member of the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) where she has served on the Canadian chapter’s Research Committee since 2017 contributing to inclusive research strategies. Doha has also recently joined the Education Planning Committee of the Canadian Network of Agencies for Regulation in support of regulatory excellence.

Doha holds a Master’s of Public Policy and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Johns Hopkins University.  She completed her Bachelors of Arts in Political Science with distinctions from the American University of Beirut.

The Fun Stuff

Doha loves living in Edmonton with her husband and three boys, supported by an amazing extended family.  When she is not in the office, you can find Doha baking and cooking up a storm for a big party!  She loves travel and has quite the travel bucket list to conquer. Doha is also passionate about reading history books and debating foreign policy. Vice President of Consulting & Chief

Name and Credentials: Jessica DeVries, MA Community Engagement, BSc Mathematics

Role: Director of Research Operations

Capacity Building | Innovative Methodology Development and Reporting Solutions | Relationship Management | Community Engagement | Project Management

What Jessica brings to the Table

Over her eight-year tenure with Pivotal Research, Jessica has been integral to the development and implementation of all research initiatives undertaken at Pivotal Research. She brings her strong analytical skillset and her passion for working with people to uncover impactful research solutions. Jessica obtained a Bachelor of Science with a double major in Mathematics and Biological Sciences from the University of Alberta for her undergraduate education. She is currently completing her Master of Arts in Community Engagement through the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta. Her thesis work explores how women who have experienced federal incarceration define success in life after prison throughout their community re-integration journey.

Jessica has been responsible for administering over a dozen 360-degree feedback programs for healthcare regulatory bodies and authorities throughout the country. Through her extensive experience with healthcare initiatives, she has gained an appreciation for the importance of customizing research solutions to meet clients’ individualized needs. Jessica is currently managing a Customer Satisfaction Research Program for Edmonton Transit Service (ETS), which involves securing feedback from multiple stakeholders by utilizing qualitative and quantitative research approaches. This project aligns with Jessica’s passion for mixed methodology research designs that leverage different data collection and research approaches to best answer clients’ research questions.

Jessica is a volunteer with The Mustard Seed in their Open Door Program, which supports individuals returning to the community from federal incarceration. This volunteer experience inspired Jessica to undertake her current thesis work. She has also provided various research supports to The Mustard Seed, such as program evaluation training. Jessica enjoys the opportunity to work alongside community organizations as they provide crucial support to those they serve.

The Fun Stuff

Jessica is an avid soccer fan stemming from her fifteen years of playing soccer locally. She and her family enjoy the outdoors and can often be found exploring the river valley and parks around Edmonton.

Name and Credentials: Shay Sharma, BSc

Role: Technology and Innovation Lead

Digitization | Knowledge Management |Technology Development | Problem Solving | Business Strategy

What Shay brings to the Table

Shay is the technology and innovation lead at Pivotal Research, Inc. She holds a Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Alberta, has over 5 years of experience consulting in both the engineering and digitization space, and was a co-founder her own engineering consulting group called NEXOV in her last year of university. She is passionate about learning the central role of people in companies and how this role can be enhanced through technology. Shay has been working with Pivotal Research to implement innovative research methodologies and develop software-based tools and solutions to enhance Pivotal Research’s suite of consulting services.

While not leading technology solutions for Pivotal Research, Shay wears another hat as the cofounder and CEO of Bluejarvis Technologies, a startup focused on creating digital solutions to capture and analyze informal knowledge within organizations. Her passion for knowledge management and communication has led her to build products that truly aim to engage all teams within organizations, while serving as a mechanism to retain and transfer knowledge.

Been in Alberta for more than a decade, Shay is excited to see the growth of technology companies in the province and hopes to play a central part in guiding and developing technology projects and companies here in Alberta and Canada wide. Shay currently plays a leadership role as the chair of fundraising at the Indo Canadian Women’s Association (ICWA).

The Fun Stuff

Shay loves food, sports, and having a good book to read. She can be found standing in line to try the newest spot in the city and often eats dessert before the actual meal. Shay plays tennis and is an avid fan. She loves watching the grand slams and hopes to watch all four in person sometime soon. Her favorite book is “Man’s search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl.

Name and Credentials: Emma Martin, BComm.

Role: Senior Research Analyst

Marketing Communications| Non-profit Governance| Organizational Effectiveness | Consumer & Organizational Behaviour

What Emma Brings to the Table

Emma joined the Pivotal Research team shortly after she graduated from the University of Alberta’s Alberta School of Business, where she specialized in Marketing and Business Law. Emma has training in business consulting and has developed market research and social marketing plans for several Edmonton businesses and non-profit organizations.

Emma’s prior experience with non-profit organizations across the province allowed her to collaborate with people who have vastly different perspectives and experiences from her own. This work inspired her passion for research that seeks to understand the perspectives of diverse target audiences.

Early on in her time with Pivotal Research, Emma developed an interest in qualitative research methods, particularly those which leverage technology.  You will often find Emma moderating online bulletin boards and conducting mobile ethnography studies. Since joining the team, she has been involved in a number of high-impact qualitative and multi-method studies in the healthcare, transportation, and labour and immigration spaces. Emma has also brought her passion for marketing and market intelligence to projects involving competitive analyses, pricing, product ideation, psychographic segmentation, and message testing.

Emma values the opportunity to give back to her community wherever she can. She currently sits on the Board of Directors of a small non-profit summer camp, where she chairs the fundraising committee, and has committed over 1,500 hours of volunteer service to the organization. 

The Fun Stuff

When Alberta’s climate permits, Emma loves spending time outside, especially in the mountains. Although her favourite sport is baseball, you will often hear Emma talking about her favourite hockey team – the Calgary Flames. Don’t worry – the rest of the Pivotal Research team are not Flames fans. 

Name: Rainer Kocsis, BA

Role: Senior Research Analyst

Quantitative Analysis | Qualitative Analysis | Survey Instrument Development | Facilitation and Results Reporting | Public Policy

What Rainer Brings to the Table

Rainer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Saskatchewan with a major specialization in economics and a minor specialization in political studies. Rainer brings an enthusiasm for statistical methods, forecasting, and data-driven, evidence-based decision making to the Pivotal Research team.
Before joining Pivotal Research, Rainer’s most recent role was Policy and Research Analyst at the
Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. Prior to moving to Edmonton, Rainer served in the Canadian Armed Forces for five years. He has also been employed as a journalist and as a telephone research interviewer.
Rainer sits on several municipal boards and committees and is always looking for ways to volunteer in his community. He currently serves as Secretary of the Downtown Community League and Vice-President of the Canadian International Council—Edmonton Branch.

The Fun Stuff

When he is not in the office, Rainer can be found riding his motorcycle, playing tabletop board games, or practicing musical instruments. The rest of his time is spent at the gym, in the kitchen, and with his family and pets.

Name and Credentials: Stella Igweamaka, MBA

Role: Research Analyst

Market Research | Competitive Intelligence | Research Operations | Marketing & Communications |Business Development

What Stella brings to the Table

Stella is a market and economic research professional with over 5 years experience. In her current role at Pivotal Research, Stella supports end-to-end market research design and execution initiatives and brings talent in research operations and competitive intelligence. 

Stella has a passion for excellence and brings expertise in consulting through her previous experience working for globally renowned management consulting firms.  Prior to Pivotal Research, Stella worked with KPMG as a Research & Insights Executive and with Kantar as a Senior Research Analyst.  Following her move to Canada, and with a demonstrated expertise in research and implementation, Stella is on a mission to create meaningful impact through her research insights. 

Stella also brings expertise from the not-for-profit sector, where she partnered with Pitch Better and Canadian Women’s Foundation to conduct a nationwide market research study for Black women entrepreneurs in Canada.  The study findings were instrumental to the Business Development Bank of Canada in helping formulate policies to enable growth for Black Women-owned organizations and businesses.  

Stella holds an MBA from the University of Lagos, Nigeria, and volunteers with Slum2school – an organization focused on providing educational scholarships and other support for disadvantaged children in underdeveloped countries. 

The Fun Stuff

Stella enjoys the outdoors and adventurous trips with her family. She hopes to explore more beautiful places in Canada.

Name and Credentials: Manish Yadav, Postgraduate

Role: Data Scientist

Data Analytics | Data Visualization | Survey Management | Dashboard Reporting

What Manish brings to the Table

Manish Yadav is an adaptive Data Scientist, skilled in recording, interpreting, and analyzing data with excellent skills in Excel and Statistics. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics with two post-graduate diplomas in Research and Data Analytics from Georgian College.

Manish is eager to learn new, cutting-edge data visualization techniques and apply them throughout the project lifespan to help companies develop a deeper insight into their business operations. He brings expertise in data manipulation along with survey and discussion guide development to the Pivotal Research team. Manish is a strong communicator and team player and has quickly taken leadership on Pivotal Research’s quantitative research initiatives. 

Manish’s previous experience is in the healthcare sector as a Research Analyst at Rural Ontario Medical Program (ROMP), where he enabled physician engagement research in rural areas.  In that role, he analyzed a multitude of surveys and created visually appealing dashboards and reports to optimize rural hospital operations.  He also led a project team at the Toronto Entertainment District Residents Association (TEDRA) as part of the Urban Engagement Project where he conducted big data analytics, Twitter Sentiment Analysis, and powerful data visualization geared towards understanding downtown Toronto voters’ behaviour to inform targeted political and advocacy action.

The Fun Stuff

Outside the office and work, you would find Manish trying out different cuisines and local street food. He loves exploring new places and going on excursions to hike, swim, and relax on mountain peaks.

Name and Credentials: Kseniia Hladkikh, M.A.

Role: Research Analyst

Qualitative Analysis | Public Policy | Non-profit Effectiveness | Good Governance| Inclusive Research

What Kseniia brings to the Table

Kseniia is a Research Analyst and a trained qualitative researcher bringing in-depth knowledge on inclusive research practices and experience conducting research with marginalized communities. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Sociology from McMaster University with specialization in Race, Ethnicity and Immigration. As a Mitacs Globalink research fellow, Kseniia focused in her graduate thesis on the experiences of internally displaced students in Ukraine, combining both sociological and political perspectives to enrich her research.

Since joining the Pivotal Research team, Kseniia has made her contribution to a number of research projects for prominent clients in the immigrant-serving and transportation sectors. Kseniia is eager to continue applying her education and research experience to help client organizations solve problems and become more effective.

Prior to moving to Canada, Kseniia obtained her Bachelor’s degree in International Relations with specialization in Diplomacy and Diplomatic Service from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. She was awarded with the Global UGRAD Exchange Program Scholarship – U.S. Embassy in Ukraine / U.S. Department of State, where she represented Ukraine in the U.S. and successfully passed an exchange semester with a major in political science.

Through her internship at the National Democratic Institute in Kyiv, Kseniia contributed to the development of the first public policy consultation mechanism in Ukraine and participated in the election observation mission to Ukraine’s parliamentary elections in 2019. She also applied her strong stakeholder engagement and communication skills by interacting with leaders from the healthcare, public and non-profit sectors, organizing workshops, focus groups and presentations on behalf of the Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Health.  Kseniia also volunteered with the renowned Klitschko Foundation supporting social policy projects serving youth.

Kseniia likes to take advantage of the digital learning opportunities and recently completed a mini-MBA course by DeGroote School of Business as well as CanStudyUS Fellowship for young professionals interested in US policymaking. Kseniia believes in the power of networking and is currently taking part in several mentorship programs where she both shares her expertise and learns from women leaders in different industries.

The Fun Stuff

Kseniia is passionate about health and fitness: when she is not at her desk, you can find her at the gym dancing Zumba, attending yoga classes or strength training. She loves crafting, trying new DIY hobbies and is building a small business to promote her art. She also enjoys reading: her combined background in sociology and international relations spark her interest in books on comparative politics, gender equality, and memoirs of political leaders.

Name and Credentials: Leona Boss

Role: Office Administrator

Field Coordination | Research Support | Office Management | Customer Relations

What Leona brings to the Table

Leona joined Pivotal Research in 2005 as a Research Assistant.  She has supported the data collection of large-scale research programs at Pivotal Research, which entailed the processing of over 250,000 surveys (paper, online, and intercept) annually. Currently Leona provides critical supports to all aspects of research consulting initiatives, from field coordination to results-reporting and quality assurance, while keeping the Pivotal Research office operations running smoothly.

Leona has an eye for detail, takes great initiative, and is a stellar team player. She likes to learn new things to expand her areas of expertise and enjoys a challenge, looking at issues from multiple points of view to come up with a solution that fits.

The Fun Stuff

Leona enjoys knitting, playing slo-pitch, walking and playing with her two dogs, and working in the yard in her free time.  She enjoys watching football and hockey. Anytime spent with her family and friends enjoying a meal or sitting around the fire in the backyard is a blessing.

Name and Credentials: Emily McGoey, BComm.

Role: Business Analyst

Strategy Development | Relationship Management | Public Policy | Marketing & Communications

What Emily brings to the Table

Emily is a recent graduate of the Alberta School of Business with a major in Marketing and a Minor in Human Resources. She is eager to apply her educational experience to help clients make informed business decisions that consider all relevant stakeholders. She is a strong communicator and brings several years of experience developing marketing and communication strategies to the Pivotal Research team.

Through her experience in the healthcare and construction industries, Emily gained a strong understanding of the intersection between public and private realms. She recently worked with global medical device manufacturer PRIMED Medical Products, where she travelled across North America and navigated the intense regulatory environment of Healthcare to implement and evaluate the effectiveness of medical devices in hospital networks. Through her employment as a communicator with PCL Construction, Emily gained valuable business development experience, authored corporate communications plans, and created project profiles to exhibit PCL’s construction expertise.

Emily was also an active member of the Alberta School of Business’ regional and international case competition teams, where she demonstrated her strong analysis skills, and capacity for strategic thinking. She continues this involvement by coaching novice case teams and delivering workshops.

The Fun Stuff

When she is not in the office, you can find Emily trying out the newest group fitness classes or hitting the slopes. She exercises her passion for writing by reviewing local restaurants and attractions.