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Feature Story

Reflections on 
SIOP 2017


The annual conference means something different to each one of the 4,801 people who attended. This special section contains reflections from new attendees and old-timers; scientists and practitioners; and students and professionals who share their unique perspectives.

Katie England
Graduate Student, I-O Psychology
Pennsylvania State University

This year, I attended my first ever SIOP conference. Until now, SIOP has been a conference I heard about, and now that I’ve experienced it, I can say with certainty that it was not a letdown. I cannot imagine a better way to end my first year as a PhD student than by being surrounded by the best minds and the most up-to-date research in our field. During my time at SIOP, I was able to meet and talk with some people whose names I’ve only read in articles. I attended symposia focused on emotional regulation and the future of emotions in the workforce, which allowed me to get a better perspective of where my current interests are heading. While the aforementioned events alone would have made for an excellent experience, the biggest take home of the conference for me was the realization of the impact our field can truly have. During SIOP, I attended a talk on the role I-O psychologists can play in reducing hate crimes and shootings. This was just one example of many impactful talks that occurred during the conference that opened my eyes to the influence I-O can have. Overall, my first SIOP was more than I could have asked for and I look forward to attending many more in years to come!

Sertrice Grice
Master’s Candidate 
Radford University

When it comes to I-O you see people who are interested in training and development, engagement, big data, the list goes on. SIOP brings together I-O psychologists of all different backgrounds and allows them to attend sessions targeted towards their area of interest. Sitting in each session you can find people comparing experiences, offering advice, as well as asking for advice. There are also sessions and activities targeted for current and recent graduate students that offer advice on navigating the I-O world outside of school.

That is the category I fell under this year. I was one week away from graduating with my MS and I was bright eyed, bushy tailed, and ready to see what the world had to offer. When I first looked through the various sessions I was overwhelmed! As a student, I still had various interests, and it was hard to narrow down which sessions to skip and which to attend. Not to mention I also wanted to find time to participate in the job placement center and to network as much as possible. Thursday, due to all of the excitement, I even forgot to break for lunch!

I think it’s great that the organizers of SIOP make a conscious effort to have activities relevant to everyone. Throughout the conference everyone seems entertained, be it from the sessions, networking, or just catching up with old friends. In my opinion, that is actually the best part about SIOP, it feels like a little community. It seems like most people know each other, are willing to meet those they don’t know, and are willing assist others any time they can. For these reasons, in my eyes, SIOP 2017 was a success! I am eager to continue my career as a part of this community, help the conference continuously represent what is needed by all in our field, and recruit others to do the same.

Ben Hawkes

Assessment Lead
Shell International

I am convinced that attending SIOP Conference (and this was #10 for me) has had a huge and positive impact on my career. So bear in mind that what I”m about to say comes from love. Okay, perhaps not love exactly. Let”s call it “warm appreciation.”

Seriously, we need to get over this “science versus practice” thing. That “SvP” divide was quite obvious when I first attended back in ‘08, and it is still apparent now, even if these days we mostly talk about it half jokingly. I-O psychology, by its very definition, is applied psychology. Yet, we still see plenty of examples of science being conducted in isolation from practice and practice being carried out without substantive science to back it. (Naturally I recognize that there will always be a need for “pure” science, just as there are areas of practice where science cannot always help.)

I haven’t been around SIOP anything like long enough to understand the root cause of this SvP schism, but right now the cause is less important than the solution. To my mind, it needs better and more frequent communication, cooperation, and collaboration between science and practice. For my part, I’m exploring with a few academics how we might make available some of Shell’s extensive HR data sets for them to work with. It’s not easy of course: understandably, our organization has strict internal policies about who gets access to this data about our people. But I know from my own experience that practitioners and scientists alike benefit from collaborations like this. This is just one example, and I know of many other “science with practice” collaborations like this already happen. I’d just like to see more of them: It’s good for scientists and practitioners alike, and it’s good for our field.

Jacqueline Marhefka
PhD Student, Industrial-Organizational Psychology
The Pennsylvania State University

This year, I attended my very first SIOP Conference as a first year graduate student. As I was not presenting any research this year, I was free to attend various poster sessions, symposiums, and community of interest talks. It was exciting to put a face to the names of academics I have encountered in my classes and thesis research, as well as learn about current topics and methods they are studying. I also enjoyed attending symposiums about areas in which I was less familiar and seeing my fellow graduate students share their work in these settings.

 I was particularly excited about the topics discussed in the "Studying the Dynamics of Team Dynamics" symposium, as teams is my primary research focus. It was great to follow this symposium up with the Multiteam Systems Community of Interest, which was facilitated by Leslie DeChurch, James Grand, and Dustin Jundt. It was so beneficial to see what these researchers and others had been working on regarding this topic as well as discuss where multiteam systems are going.

The conference was an excellent opportunity to meet with Penn State alumni and discuss what work they have been doing since graduating. Overall, the conference was a wonderful setting to learn about current research in the field and see a great number of those researchers. I am looking forward to attending again next year!

An Old-Timer’s Impressions of SIOP Conference 2017

Allen I. Kraut
Professor Emeritus of Management, Baruch College CUNY

Flying home to New York from Orlando, I thought of what I’d just seen at SIOP and I found myself thinking about the changes over the years.  I have been going to our Annual Conference for several decades, and this meeting was a lot bigger than others.  At the first SIOP-only meeting in Chicago, 33 years ago, there were just 704 attendees.  This year, we topped 4,800 registrants, which was even more than the 4,200 or so in each of the last 2 years.  Partly I guess, we have to thank Walt Disney and the Resort setting, which would also explain why I saw a lot more children than in most years, and why so many of us had trouble getting a room at the conference hotel.

SIOP a Part of Global Trends

I saw that changes in the world around us affect SIOP and its members at least as much as the rest of society.   Digital developments gave us WHOVA, an app to check the SIOP program agenda and set our choices by topic and presenter.  I tried it and did not really get it.  I still prefer paper.  Some others seemed to find it useful.  Maybe I’ll get it next year.

The Internet seemed to keep many book publishers away from our Exhibition Hall.  I saw only two displays showing books that I could pick up and look through.  There were handouts offering 30% discounts if books were ordered online.   Like Amazon, I think our publishers no longer want to haul cartons of books to the conference, not knowing how many they will have to lug back again.

Instead there was a higher proportion of consulting firms in the Exhibition Hall.  Many of them have new names, as consulting firms have been quite busy starting up or merging and acquiring other consulting firms.  It looked as if most of them were promising to do what the others do but better. There were so many new assessment tools and promises offered, it made my head spin.  I was satisfied to walk away with souvenir writing pens and some chocolates.

Big data, how you get it and what you do with it, was the topic on several panels.  The huge increases in computing power over recent years lets us get and crunch an enormous amount of data, though we still need to really know what we are doing.  It is a “gee whiz” phenomenon and opens many possibilities for us in the future, and much of that future is already here.

Globalization was also evident.  There was more diversity among presenters (although African Americans were less visible than I’d like to see.)  This showed up in more Asian names and also English spoken with many accents, including Australian and European.  SIOP is going global even more so than I had noticed some years ago (Kraut and Mondo, 2009).   While SIOP membership overall (aside from students) grew about 38% in the last decade, the number of SIOP members who live overseas has increased 145%.  As a portion of SIOP members, non-US members rose from 12.1% in 2007 to 21.6% in 2017 and are still on the increase.  Almost one in four (24.4%) of new members joining in 2016 live out of the US!

That seems all to the good, improving our viewpoints, our science and our impact in the world.  For me personally, it is a huge plus.  I had the joy of seeing my former student from Baruch College, Mukta Kulkarni, present her research on disability and inclusion.  She came in from Bangalore, where she is now a professor at the India Institute of Management (India’s MIT).  My friend Michael Frese, a past president of IAAP’s Division of Work Psychology, came in from the National University of Singapore to discuss his work on fostering entrepreneurship in Uganda as part of a World Bank project.  I found all of this exciting.

Uneven Quality of Presentations

I continue to be amazed by the unevenness of the formal presentations at SIOP Conferences.   Leading edge sessions were balanced by others that made me think, “Are we still discussing this issue?  After so many years?”  I heard that 50% of this year’s submissions were rejected, so my expectations were high.

Some of what I saw was dreadful.  Researchers who have given months of effort to a project have only 15 minutes or so to make a good impression on an audience that actually chose, with high hopes, to hear them.  So why would the presenters use Power Points with far too much text on a chart, or typefaces too small to read, and colors that wash out and give eyestrain?  Did they even try out their presentations? Where were their friends?  Where were their advisors? 

On the other hand, a few sessions were brilliant.  For example, in a debate about using performance appraisals to support meritocracy, Seymour Adler and Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic were on one side and Paul Sackett and Alan Colquitt on the other.  (That is already a fine lineup.) 

In his introductions, the moderator, Marc Effron, described them as parts of a tag-team event.  Then he stepped back, put on a black-and-white striped referee’s shirt and pulled out a whistle and penalty flag.  Wow!  The audience went wild, cheering, applauding, and laughing.  After that they were totally alert to the speakers’ comments and repartee.  It was a fun and engaging session where we all learned a lot about the topic.

Perhaps the most amazing session I saw was “SIOP Shaken and Stirred.”  Set in a large, darkened meeting room, the stage was worthy of a Silicon Valley new-product announcement by Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg.   Fifteen presenters had just 3 minutes each to answer the question “What If…?”   They each filled in their own question and then answered it.  This session was, by turns, dramatic, mold breaking, inspiring, and heart-warming.  Talk about challenging and imaginative viewpoints.  Here are just four examples:

Amy Grubb of the FBI asked, “What if You Could Change Something Just by Describing it Differently?”  Her point: Words can limit and also expand our thinking.  She gave a variety of examples to show that how we describe and frame an issue greatly changes our approach to understanding, researching, and solving it. 

Mikki Hebl of Rice asked, “What if Gender Mattered Less?”  She brought out the underrepresentation of women in business and the US Congress, and she noted that only six, or 29%, of this year’s 21 SIOP Fellows were female, inviting us to think about why this should be.

Mike Morrison, a graduate student at MSU asked, “What if Work Becomes Optional in the Future?”  With automation rapidly replacing jobs, leading to unemployment, perhaps every person would be need to be guaranteed an annual salary, say of $24,000 a year, whether they worked or not.  What then?

John Scott of APTMetrics asked “What if SIOP Could Help Eradicate Poverty on a Global Scale by Supporting the GLOW Agenda in Both Applied and Research Settings?”  In his answer, he showed an inspiring film on providing a global living wage that would enable people, organizations, and communities to prosper and thrive.  See it at https://youtu.be/zbZafHgqumo.

Jennifer Weiss, who served as event MC, created SIOP Shaken and Stirred to be an ongoing and evolving project.  I learned that the 2017 debut of this novel and engaging session came about with significant support from SIOP, particularly from Aarti Shyamsunder from the Special Events committee, who served as cochair.

Each of the speakers had obviously prepared and rehearsed for their brief time on stage, as if giving a TED talk.  They were models for all of us.  I would love to see this type of session repeated.  It deserves a wide audience.  (See for yourself; most of the sessions are now on You Tube.)

Why I Attend SIOP

Of course the formal sessions are only part of why I go to SIOP.  It is also a big social event and I love re-connecting to old friends and making new ones.  I love meeting former students and interns and colleagues and catching up with each other’s lives.  I love eating and drinking with them, and going to vendors' parties with them.  Over the years, many of my professional associates have become close personal friends.

One thing did puzzle me, though.  Several times, an associate greeted me with “You look terrific!” or a similar phrase.  I’d say “Thank You,” but wonder why they seemed so genuine, maybe even surprised.   Perhaps they do not expect someone whose hair is as white as mine to still be standing tall and straight?  Perhaps not to be standing at all?  I’d prefer to think it is because I still wear a jacket, shirt, and tie, a throwback to my days working at IBM.

I don’t know how many more SIOP Conferences I will be able to attend, but I do enjoy them.  I always learn something new.  I love seeing my friends. More than 3 decades ago, I chaired the Workshop Committee and then the Program Committee.  Since then, the work of these groups has expanded greatly and the current chairs and committees, bless them, seem to handle the work flawlessly.  The growth of SIOP overall impresses me. The accomplishments of the new SIOP Fellows awe me.

Going to the SIOP Conference is a vivid reminder to me that I-O is an exciting, worthwhile and rewarding field, and a solid contributor to our world and that SIOP is an organization well worth the effort given to it by so many members.  I hope to see you all at next year’s conference in Chicago.


Photo of Jennifer Weiss on Stage. (Photo by Zack Horn)

Photo of Allen Kraut (l.) with Mukta Kulkarni of India and former Baruch College faculty colleague Kristin Sommer (r.)


Kraut, A. I., and Mondo, L. (2009). “SIOP goes global. Or is it the other way around?” The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 47(1), 33–40.

Julian B. Allen
PhD Student, Industrial-Organizational Psychology
The Pennsylvania State University

As a first time attendee at SIOP I was amazed and pleasantly overwhelmed with the cacophony of thousands of I-O psychologists in the same room. My first year at The Pennsylvania State University has been a whirlwind, as my cohort and I have jumped into classes, lab meetings, and multiple research projects. However, I could not think of a better way to bring everything into perspective than attending the 32nd Annual SIOP in sunny Orlando at the end of the semester.

In my eyes the beauty of SIOP is its ability to bring together likeminded individuals, both practitioners and academics alike. Throughout my time in Orlando I was able to reconnect with co-workers from a previous internship with OrgVitality. I was also able to meet alumni from the Leadership and Innovation Lab, such as Lily Cushenbery and Andrea Hetrick. Last, I was able to start placing faces to articles.

While at SIOP I attended multiple symposia regarding leadership and innovation management, my main areas of interest. It was exciting to meet fellow colleagues with similar curiosities and research questions. Of particular interest was symposium titled Advancing the CIP Model of Leadership. Although the session was run by fellow Penn State graduate student Brett Neely, it was exciting to note the similarities and differences with how our lab has been talking about CIP and integrating that into others current research.

I could not have asked for a more welcoming and motivating first SIOP. I’m excited for many more SIOPs to come!

Rick Jacobs
Professor of Psychology, College of Liberal Arts
Distinguished Honors Faculty, Schreyer Honors College
Senior Fellow, Justice & Safety Institute
Penn State University

Reflections on SIOP 2017: This year I attended my 31st SIOP conference including the very first in Chicago back in 1986.  I missed one many years ago so I could attend the Bat Mitzvah of the daughter of my college roommate and best friend.  That was the year I became a Fellow but my personal priorities dictated being in LA rather than St. Louis back in 1997.  The 32nd SIOP meeting in Orlando was really grand personally and professionally.  I was part of three different sessions that were well attended and tons of fun.  I really thought it ironic that for my talk on Wednesday at the Doctoral Consortium I was given 75 minutes to discuss the elevator speech—over an hour to cover a 90 second event.  The very next day I gave a talk as part of a panel of “Career Visionaries.”  For this session I had 10 minutes to talk about my 40 years in the field.  Oh well, both were fun and it certainly was great to hear the stories of my “Visionary” colleagues.

SIOP is almost always a great few days as it gives me the opportunity to visit with former students who have become life-long friends as well as time with so many valued colleagues who mostly I only see at the conference.  This year I had two career affirming experiences.  The first was Thursday morning at the Fellows breakfast when I realized that I was lucky enough to be sitting with my graduate advisor, Shelly Zedeck and one of my advisees from years ago, Paula Caligiuri.  How fortunate to have three generations of Fellows at the same table.  Later that day, as attendees were filtering into the Careers session, I saw a face in the crowd that I had not seen for several years.  Bob Goldsmith wandered in, Bob was my very first PSU PhD back in 1982.  Also in the room was Kristen Swigart, she will be my last PhD when she graduates in June of 2019, the same date I will retire after 40 wonderful years in Happy Valley.

Here are the three of us enjoying the moment.

I have often said that being a professor of I-O psychology is the best job in the world.  This SIOP certainly reminded me of how lucky I have been to be part of our profession.