Colin McIlheney

Colin McIlheney

Colin was born in North Belfast and his childhood years were spent living in one of the major conflict zones during the period in Northern Ireland’s history known as “ The Troubles”. Recognizing that education provided a pathway from the violence he won the prestigious academic Thouron Scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. He was later awarded an MSc in Research Methods and Statistics at Jesus College, Oxford Widely recognized as one of the leading research specialists of his generation, Colin’s first survey related publication was at the age of 24 and in the course of a 40 year career he has conducted more than 400 global surveys.

He served in New York as global research leader for a decade advising then PwC global Chairman Dennis Nally on the design and implementation of a wide range of Thought Leadership projects and being consulted on survey best practices. Since 1999 he has been the leader of the PwC research team which is responsible for producing and analyzing the key metrics relating to the US spa industry for ISPA. He is regular contributor at the annual ISPA Conference and is closely associated with what has become known as “ The Big Five Statistics” encompassing vital information such as revenue and staffing levels.

In other research arenas he has since 2010 taken the lead role in producing key metrics for the United States Tour Operators Association and the International Coach Federation amongst others. He is the longest serving member of the UK Census Advisory Group (CAG) having been first appointed in 1992. He was appointed specialist advisor to the Electoral Commission and co-authored a series of 11 reports on boosting and monitoring electoral participation. Most recently he helped with the design of the 2021 Census in Northern Ireland and regularly commentates on how to encourage response rates in conflict divided societies. He has conducted pioneering studies on diversity equality inclusion and justice and other sensitive issues in Bosnia, South Africa, and many parts of Asia. His particular research focus is on boosting participation rates in survey research.


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