ABOUT US

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

President

Doha Melhem

Vice President of Consulting & Chief Evaluator

Jessica DeVries

Director of Research Operations

Shay Sharma

Technology & Innovation Lead

Rainer Kocsis

Senior Research Analyst

Andrea Donini

Senior Consultant

Manish Yadav

Data Scientist

Kseniia Hladkikh

Research Analyst

Hafsah Ali

Research Operations Specialist

Chance Galay

Graphic & UX Designer

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: 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: Andrea Donini

Role: Senior Consultant

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

What Andrea Brings to the Table

Andrea has formal education in software development, traditional and digital arts, professional writing, and public policy, in addition to ongoing learning in fostering innovation, leadership, strategy development, and the arts. Andrea has a knack for bringing multiple perspectives into a project, ensuring strong understanding of audiences and strategic communications that inspire action. Her primary motivation is seeing evidence inform action, whether in the design of research, technology solutions, or strategy.

Throughout her 20+ years of experience, Andrea has worked for many industries and sectors. She has gained strong knowledge of how things get done and gleaned relevant considerations for private, public, and not-for-profit clients. As Director, Operations, Strategy & Communications for EndPovertyEdmonton, Andrea was instrumental in the growth, independent incorporation, and advocacy work of the young organization, helping it reach new heights.

Her past experiences in software development, web design, brand strategy, corporate communications, and collaborative leadership environments give Andrea the ability to quickly orient to the unique needs of a client so she can provide impactful solutions and meaningful recommendations. She enjoys working with clients and inter-disciplinary groups on a range of projects from policy analysis to market insights and technology transformations. She is passionate about delivering good data in creative ways that will spark change and reveal insights.

The Fun Stuff

Andrea is a maker of things, ranging from paintings to walls, with forays into food and gardening along the way. She’ll belt out a tune, but probably not in front of anyone, and always encourages those around her to have fun, whether at work or play.

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: Hafsah Ali, BSc.

Role: Research Operations Specialist

Project Management | Data Collection | Data Analysis | Relationship Management | Quality Assurance

What Hafsah brings to the Table

Hafsah oversees the coordination and successful execution of research initiatives on behalf of Pivotal Research clients across Canada.
 
Hafsah is a Chemical Engineering graduate from the University of Alberta. She is passionate about
project management, which led her to completing the Project Management Series offered through the Faculty of Extension at the University of Alberta. She is eager to apply her educational experience in supporting the research team with coordinating operations, data collection and analysis.
 
Hafsah started with Pivotal Research conducting research for an engineering firm. From there her
interest in market research sparked. You will now find Hafsah involved in several projects requiring both quantitative and qualitative methodologies in government, healthcare, and transportation.
 
Hafsah believes strongly in contributing back to diverse communities in a capacity where her skills can be effective. She volunteers as a social media coordinator for the Indo-Canadian Women’s Association (ICWA) based here in Edmonton, Alberta.
 

The Fun Stuff

Hafsah loves the summer heat and tries to make the most out of Edmonton’s short summers by
discovering new hiking trails and taking her bike out. Outside of the office, Hafsah loves trying new
restaurants and cafes in the city.

Name and Credentials: Chance Galay, B.Des.

Role: Graphic and UX Designer

Design Thinking | Content Management |Infographics Creation | User Experience Expertise
 

What Chance brings to the Table

Chance is a Recent graduate from MacEwan University with Bachelor’s of Design. Chance brings his design eye to the table ensuring documents are well put together and designed with adherence to brand guidelines, while adding creativity and style through infographics and report design. His web experience helps in building web properties, using best practices to bring the best look and feel to the client.
 
Before joining Pivotal Chance worked as a freelance graphic designer taking on a diverse range of projects, for local companies, in the creation of, websites, logos, album graphics, billboards, company branding, and apparel. He worked carefully with clients to produce the final product the client desired.
 
Before leaving MacEwan Chance co-founded a small tech Startup called AR.T an app that used
augmented reality to try out gallery art in your home. The apps goal was to make sure purchased art was the right fit in a persons home before purchasing and transporting high value art pieces reducing the risk to the consumer and the gallery. He used his design expertise to create the look and feel of the app and testing it to create the best experience possible for the user.
 

The Fun Stuff

When not in the office, Chance can be found, going to live music events around the city, painting and creating art pieces , as well as on the slopes snowboarding whenever he can.

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.