Gonzalo Lopez – Personal Profile How would you describe what you do? The short answer would be "translating psychology into simple and practical applications". The slightly longer one: I currently work as a Senior Consultant at BVA Nudge Unit UK, where we specialise in…
Shona Watson has been a member of the Association of Business Psychologists since 2018. Working as a practitioner since 2007, Shona has explored the many facets and opportunities within the field of business psychology, and describes herself as ‘less of a traditional business psychologist’ – a description that may resonate with many of our members.
Working predominantly at the organisation level, Shona operates in high-hazard industries including defence, utilities, power-generation and more specifically the nuclear industry, where she has worked for the past seven years.
Shona is a self confessed ‘hybrid business psychologist’, with her expertise encompassing a blend of business psychology and human factors. Shona has a Masters Degree in Occupational Psychology.
“Human behaviour and performance becomes important in the workplace, not only in terms of productivity, but also in terms of achieving safe operations, particularly when the risk of undesired behaviour or sub-standard performance can lead to adverse consequences. In my career as a Business Psychologist I have been privileged to work across a wide range of business psychology projects. Starting out, much of my work was focused on developing competence and behavioural frameworks and delivering non-technical skills training to enable people to make safe and effective decisions and to take appropriate action, particularly in dynamic situations.”
Her current role within the nuclear industry presents a wealth of specific and exacting challenges surrounding the impact of leadership and organisational systems and processes on human performance and the contribution to physical and psychological safety in the workplace.
“Having spent a lot of my time working with people on the front line, who are the last line of defence, we need to create a working environment that allows people to perform successfully and in line with the required standards set out by leadership and management teams.”
“Over my career, I have become much more interested in how organisations operate as a system and how that influences human behaviour and performance. A significant part of the job is drawing upon research and methodologies that exist and identifying how best to tailor and implement them within the client organisations I am working with.”
Shona set up her own business, GU6ix this year and is currently exploring the many rich and broad options available in the digital space to promote her work, taking a very wise ‘content first approach’.
“In terms of business, my use of social media is pretty new, having only set up as a sole trader in January of this year (2020). I have aspirations to use social media business-wise and would love to create thought leadership pieces and articles to create discursive conversation among peers and industry professionals.”
Shona kindly participated in the ABP social media survey in March 2020 and has a vested interest in exploring the multiple options presented by social media platforms to promote and engage with potential clients and the wider industry about business psychology practice. As a big Instagram user in her everyday life and a keen photographer, Shona is exploring how the field of business psychology could be conveyed on a largely visual platform.
“There’s an interesting piece about how things are presented and how we show this on Instagram – how do we look at everyday things, especially in the workplace, and how does psychology influence our interpretation and understanding?”
The use of digital platforms and engaging with members online has arguably never been more important, and the COVID-19 crisis has forced many organisations and businesses to adjust and rethink how they operate to ensure the wellbeing of their colleagues and the long term survival and development of their business.
We spoke to Shona about the impact of COVID-19 on the industry and herself personally, to help us gain insight and understand how to offer support and produce appropriate content during this period.
“A big focus at the moment is peoples’ mental health and wellbeing- not just in the immediate future, but the longer-term impact post COVID-19. I have been more of an observer to date and simply being asked the question about how we can be further supported during this time is the perfect place to understand the impact and how organisations and leadership teams are having to respond. Business resilience is a really interesting area at the moment, something that usually happens under the radar within a business. How have organisations prepared themselves for the unknown? That’s something that really interests me during this time.”
Shona joined the ABP in 2018, at the time looking for a place to find resources for someone who does not consider themselves a ‘traditional’ business psychologist.
“When I came across the ABP it was like I had found a home and an identity. It is the only professional body solely dedicated to business psychology. The ABP’s mission resonates with me – that is, the application of psychological thinking and research to improve business performance is the crux of what business psychology offers. It’s being able to take theory and research and tailor solutions for application in the workplace to deliver tangible improvements and results.”
The ABP has continued to produce a rich and varied content calendar spanning many platforms and mediums.
“I love the newsletter, updates, podcast and training and development that helps us keep up to date with the challenges and changes within the profession and helps members tackle these challenges.”
“At the current time, I’m definitely reactive, rather than proactive on social media, but LinkedIn is one of the channels where I see the ABP content most regularly. The monthly newsletter is always worth a read to understand what the ABP is working on and what may be on the horizon.”
Shona went on to explain about engagement with multiple upskilling opportunities offered by the ABP, identified through the newsletter and Linkedin, having attended several online webinars and classroom-based training courses.
“I think membership with the ABP is a great return on investment, and that is definitely one of its key strengths and, for me, is what I have always valued in being a member of a professional body.”
If you would like to talk to us about your business and how you have benefitted from joining the ABP, please get in touch here we would love to hear from you.