How would you describe what you do? After nearly six years as the Head of Organisational and Leadership Development for a FTSE 100 business I’ve returned to my old consultancy firm. As such I am now freer to focus on what I adore doing -…
The Manchester Careers Event has now been run every year at Manchester Metropolitan University since 2017 and has proved to be a popular event. Because of the current health emergency the event was run as a webinar on 17th March involving five speakers from the Manchester area along with two ABP Board members.
Marilena Antoniadou and Mark Crowder
Academics, Manchester Metropolitan University
Marilena is the programme lead at Manchester Metropolitan University in their BA Business Psychology Programme along with being a Reader in management at the Business School.
Mark came into lecturing following a career as a senior manager in both the public and private sectors.
For both, Business Psychology is a discipline which equips you for many careers in management as it focuses on human behaviour and how it can impact on the effectiveness of organisations. While traditional management consulting is more transactional in nature, business psychology addresses the issue of how people can be made to be more effective as individuals and in teams, through a greater emphasis on emotional intelligence. With the UK in a productivity crisis, more and more organisations are looking to Business Psychologists to provide the spotlight on innovative solutions. Specifically, Business Psychology allows you “Access All areas” pass into key business issues:
- Increase business efficiency
- It addresses mental health issues and assesses the mental health and work performance of employees.
- Consumer behaviour to improve marketing and increase sales
- It’s approach allows an evidence based approach to the development of training and leadership programs
Business psychology is all around us; nowhere is this more in evidence than in the video games industry where psychologists are being increasingly employed in development programmes to make games even more compelling, challenging and fun. It is used to maximise team effectiveness in high pressure environments, such as in space missions, where setting the conditions can mean the difference between success and failure.
Graduates go on to careers in the public sector, where psychology is now recognised as a discipline in its own right, and the public sector, where there are opportunities for self employment, working with business psychology organisations, and working as part of a larger multi-disciplinary team in medium to large sized enterprises.
In terms of a career, academic careers are rewarding as they provide opportunities for collaboration, expanding knowledge and pushing back the frontiers of the application of research work. There are increasing opportunities for collaboration with HR departments in organisations which, after a long period of scepticism, now realise that Business Psychology can make a difference.
The MMU route is typical of many of the programmes available nationally and is a three year programme, extendable to four years with overseas placements / study. For further information contact Marilena and Mark on firstname.lastname@example.org
CEO, Lumina Learning
Stewart started and runs a psychometrics solutions company which delivers leading edge analysis and profiling of personality, using a mixture of human assessment and the latest developments in computer technology. Having begun his career in operations research he found that the discipline could be applied in a number of areas, not least Business Psychology, an area where he now also holds a PhD.
Although it could never be disputed that Business Psychology is the application of science, and in the case of psychometrics, of process, one of the most rewarding elements is that it is a people orientated business. In other words, it has to bring real benefits to real people: it should be ”values” driven, diversity should be brought into the picture, and it is the responsibility of practitioners in this area to remove bias as far as is practically possible.
The business is in a constant state of improvement. You have to have a “win win” attitude where you are bringing wider benefits to the community as well as to the organisation. Be inspiring, authentic and a pioneer and above all avoid bureaucracy. One of the most rewarding aspects of the work is the knowledge that you are helping and developing one person at a time, in what is essentially the “democratisation” of an important aspect of the HR function.
For further information contact email@example.com
Anna has developed a career along a different route. With a psychology degree she decided to go into the Public Sector where she has had a range of service improvement and Organisational Development (OD) type roles. More recently she decided to leave employment to develop a freelance portfolio career. She took a coaching diploma and now undertakes coaching and consultancy assignments as well as being Chair of a Board of Trustees of a Charity.
Anna has used both the skills and knowledge gained from her psychology degree throughout her career. For example, using her knowledge and understanding of statistics and research methods when supporting managers to make evidence-based decisions. Combining her psychology degree with training as a coach has equipped her with the skills to help her clients explore both their inner and outer worlds (including their thoughts, emotions and wider context). This helps clients discover insights that will help them in future situations, rather than just focussing on the task at hand.
Like many of us, Anna never had a clear focus on what form of career she wished to follow. However, she has learnt that it is important to not just focus on what options are available but to understand what is important to her. Using her strengths and working in alignment with her purpose and values is key. Recognising how these have changed over time, one important value that has emerged for her is autonomy. Being guided by purpose and what matters to her, Anna is keen to allow work opportunities to emerge, rather than having a fixed goal or long-term plan.
A key factor in career choices is of course how to achieve a work/life balance. One way is to reduce travel time, and choose a career which can be done, at least partly, from home. Furthermore, working through the pandemic has crystallised one feature of coaching, which is that it really does work online and that it has a good future, irrespective of the medium through which it is delivered. Looking to future growth areas, the main trends in coaching are towards team coaching and ethical and climate change related areas.
Julia works primarily on the design and delivery of Assessments Centres and related areas of work She works on back of house programmes involving Recruitment, Selection, Develop and Retention. She has to devise Role Plays, and psychometric assessments and reports.
However, the work inevitably involves related areas: these involve Competency Framework design, 360 feedback interview guides, leadership course design, along with associated in house coaching and management training.
How did she get into this work? After completing an engineering degree she preferred being around people and chose commercial work. She sold consumer products for several years, being promoted to manager of a team of salespeople.
A career change took her through a distance learning diploma and then along the MSc route to a psychology degree after which she joined SHL, a large profiling and psychometric testing organisation. Realising that a “Stamp of Approval” was required for undertaking certain kinds of work, especially in the public sector she went through the process of BPS Chartership. After several years she had sufficient contacts and experience to become independent and developed delivery/design skills through working for herself. On her own admission, however, going independent has been biggest challenge in her career.
She now has a portfolio of local, national and international work and is very busy. Having established herself she is able to conduct her work from home, although much of this is due to previous contact building and travelling. A breakdown of her work includes
* Psychologists in the area of High Level/High Value Recruitment
* Assessment Centres. Because of cost pressures these are now increasingly run virtually, which has ensured a good flow of work during the pandemic.
* Psychometrics. This area taps into the potential for individual development and can assess team and communication skills. This area is becoming increasingly sophisticated with technology facilitating increasingly accurate performance prediction.
Her top three tips for building a career:
* identify your unique strengths and “connect the dots” to create a coherent story about yourself.
* Build your brand identity: for students this can include building into your thesis the development of specialist knowledge in areas in which you wish to build a career, and build your “skills brand laterally”.
* Build and maintain a professional network
View Julia’s slides here.
Unlike the other speakers Robin Hills has focused more on Emotional Intelligence in his career. Just as we are witnessing growth in areas such as Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality, EI is now maturing into an accepted area of psychology..
Ten years ago, no one had heard of Emotional Intelligence, as evidenced by his degree certificate which describes his discipline as “Biology (Physiology)” but even though it is relatively new it is now almost mainstream. A concept which was always an issue yet not formally acknowledged has now been formalised and buyers of consulting services identify it as a need.
Robin also developed a career in psychology by switching after a spell in a commercial career. When he left University he became a Medical Sales Representative. He found that when visiting London Teaching Hospitals he could influence, persuade and even change behaviour by spending time with the medical professionals. He concluded that he was using emotions to influence and was in fact using the new and developing activity called emotional intelligence.
After redundancy, he looked at a career in clinical research but found that there was a growing need for Resilience training and a shortage of products for trainers to use. Organisations needed to train people to bounce back and be more resilient as part of their personal development programmes, so he set about to develop these programmes around a toolbox one of which is “Images of Resilience”.
In order to gain credibility he identified the need to have published material, so he wrote and had published a couple of books, on resilience and emotional intelligence.
He coupled this with online training and, promoting the books and training material online, he now has an international business which has 250,000 learners in over 187 countries and translated into 58 languages. Lockdown has had a transformational effect on his core business which is publications and online teaching in the area of Emotional Intelligence. Enrolments have trebled and it is predicted that online teaching will become a $1Tr business over the next 10 years.
His business is not exclusively focused on EI related work. Other publications include:
* Communication skills: Personality and Behaviour in Business
* Inclusive Leadership: working with Equality and Diversity
* Collaboration and Emotional Intelligence
* Understanding Personality Types at Work
What he found surprising was the extent to which the published material opened doors, especially since his work has become recognised by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM). He is now in constant demand as a speaker and he has sold more than 31000 courses on line which are use in areas as diverse as MBA apprenticeships programmes and the NHS and many private sector organisations.
He is now training in
* Developing emotional intelligence in Teams
* Collaboration and EI
* EI Leadership
* Conflict Management and Emotional Intelligence
Alongside using networking to promote yourself and building your brand Robin recommends that you
* Get competent in Social Media
* Develop skills in emerging technologies – videography, sound engineering. and Animation to fully utilise the social media skills.
His message: don’t be afraid of trying something new and keep persevering.
View Robin’s slides here.
Chief Executive of “Psychology Works”
How did she get into psychology? She had always wanted to pursue a career in this area, and discovered that “Once In, it is easier to move around”. However, there were certain things which she wished she had known in her younger days and which she would now share.
What does it mean in reality as a business psychologist? In her speciality of assessment and development, there is a lot of
- Standing on desks (!), in other words setting up rooms as you would wish them to be
- Ensuring the IT is working properly, always something of a challenge when organisations use different systems and interfaces
- Originally, the business involved being away from home on training assignments for three days per week: staying in comfortable hotels with good food seemed an attractive lifestyle but it did involve being away for substantial periods and spending a short time at home.
- Opportunity to “make a difference”, making it engaging and attractive work.
- Fun: Business Psychology is a lesson in how to take the work seriously and then relax. The experience of an ABP conference bears witness!
What can a Business Psychologist expect to earn?
- Interns start on about £15K
- Entry level graduates vary between £18K and £35K depending on qualifications and experience and size of organisation
- Consultants can earn £30K – £50K, senior consultants £45K – £75K
- Heads of department can earn £80K
- Principals £65K – £100K
Her first job was challenging but it established a career path and track record: the area was in assessment of “Mental Toughness”, a topic picked for her MSc thesis and something which has considerable commercial relevance. Some tips:
- Use any connections tutors at University might have. This is hugely important for the first job
- Choose a topic for your thesis which you might wish to pursue early in your career. If could help you get your first job.
- Get involved in organising industry events
- Do voluntary work to build a base of contacts, perhaps with industry conferences and events. However, ensure that once committed remain with it and follow through, irrespective of other commitments
- Join appropriate Social Media groups. LinkedIn is particularly useful for Business Psychologists and graduates but it can be overwhelming. Just ensure that your profile is tidy and accurate and fit for employers to view. For those interested Maria will be running a LinkedIn course at some point during the summer for the industry.
- Prepare for assessments, interviews and any relevant hurdles. Expect to have to do Personality and Ability tests and prepare appropriately.
- Internships can be a useful way of gaining experience. However, try to ensure that they are relevant to your preferred line of work.
- Share information and get engaged with those who are in the know about opportunities. #psychtalent is a good place to start.
- Network and try to establish who has thought leadership and make contact through industry and other events.
- Don’t be fussy about location. Most first opportunities are perhaps with smaller organisations located in the regions which are considering employing a business psychologist for the first time.
17 March 2021