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There are few individuals in the history of business psychology that pique interest more than Professor Peter Saville. He was already a legend when I was studying for my undergraduate degree in the late 1990s, and having written his brief biography a few years ago, I already felt like I knew the man pretty well (which is always amusing to me as we have never actually met in person).

In 1998 Peter was listed amongst the top 100 entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom, and in 2001, was presented with the British Psychological Society Centenary Award for Distinguished Contributions to Professional Psychology. With his portrait hung in the National Portrait Gallery, and the citation that, “Peter established Britain as the centre of Psychometric excellence and cemented the notion of fair and objective assessment in Human Resource departments across the world”, Peter is the de facto father of Occupational Psychology.

Testing Times: Psychologist at work explains how he ‘did it’ by uncompromisingly building his reputation on the value that psychologists bring in making decisions on fair and objective data. Peter takes us on a journey through his childhood experiences, formative years at university through to the building of his reputation and associated business ventures. We can see the formation of his thinking and values, the joy, fulfilment and strength that he gains from his family, his many diverse interests and his pride in a job well done. All of which undoubtedly helped him to cope with complex and debilitating illnesses, whilst also giving him the personal resources to harness the inner steel that must have been needed to manage the many twists and turns in his career. In Testing Times, Peter shows us all how he triumphed over arrogance, incompetence, sabotage and subterfuge by people who should have known better. A cautionary tale with a ‘never say die’ triumphant outcome and a certain amount of soixante-neuf (read the book for an explanation).

Peter’s exploration of pertinent issues in the field illustrates both the breadth and depth of his competence. The book is packed with nuanced but critical information that psychologists who are new to the field must absorb, and the rest of us do well to remind ourselves of: and let’s be frank, it is always more interesting to read about the validity of selection methods with a good story in the background. Elite tennis and golf have their grand slams, if psychometric testing had its major championships, then Peter would be a multiple grand slam winner. If I can plagiarise one of Peter’s ex-employees, this has been ‘an intellectually stimulating experience’ and knowing Peter, the story isn’t over yet.

 

TESTING TIMES: Psychologist at Work is available from Amazon click here.

in hardcover for £20 and all proceeds go to the Willow Foundation, the only national charity working with seriously ill young adults aged 16 to 40 to fulfil uplifting and unforgettable Special Days.

 

A book review by our ABP Chair, Professor Alex Forsythe

 

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