Jenny Baker
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Meet Victoria Mattingly: Leslie W. Joyce and Paul W. Thayer Graduate Fellowship Award Winner

Liberty J. Munson & Garett Howardson


As part of our ongoing series to recognize SIOP award winners, this quarter, we are highlighting one of SIOP’s Fellowship Award winners—Victoria Mattingly. Whereas many of the people we interview answer the questions in writing, Victoria actually chatted on the phone. Below is the story of how she won this fellowship and how it led to her completing her dissertation by doing research that reflects one of her true passions. Let’s jump in.



Victoria is a senior solutions designer at Mind Gym, and before that she was a Learning and Development consultant at DDI. She earned her PhD from Colorado State in May 2018. This fellowship is given to graduate students whose coursework and research specialize in either selection or learning and development. Winning this fellowship gives recipients the flexibility to pursue their research interests without worrying (as much) about funding. In Victoria’s case, she attributes winning this award to not only the quality of her research but also to perseverance.

For the research sample component of her application, she submitted findings from a meta-analysis she conducted on the trainability of emotional intelligence.. Ultimately, she wondered “Can EI be trained?” The short answer is that it can be trained. The results showed a moderate positive effect for training, regardless of design. Effect sizes were relatively robust over gender of participants, and type of EI measure (ability v. mixed model) and were in line with other meta-analytic studies of competency-based training programs. EI is at the root of all soft-skills training, and the last contribution of her meta-analysis is that it showed that training can help organizations move the needle on these issues. During the process of doing this research, she also realized that she wanted to build a career on training these softer skills that made people into better human beings—but more on that later. Let’s talk about the perseverance element and other advice for graduate students applying for this fellowship…

When asked what advice she would give other graduate students applying for this award, she suggested the following:

  1. Be persistent. Don’t give up. She actually applied for the fellowship twice. You can, too.
  2. Internships help show your ability to apply the skills you’re learning in grad school and the relevance of selection or learning and development to your career specialization. At the time she applied the second time, she could include an internship with Amazon and one with DDI on her application.
  3. Be sure to highlight those experiences on your application. This is critical!
  4. Although the recommendation letters must come from graduate faculty members, getting them to include testimonials from your internship manager(s) is a great way to include the industry/practice element in the recommendation process.
  5. The spirit of this award is based on the strong mentoring relationship between Paul Thayer and Leslie Joyce. Having a similarly strong mentoring relationship with one of your nominators builds a strong case for your application, especially if that comes through in the nomination letter and your “career goals and aspirations” statement. Victoria has a wonderful relationship with her advisor—Kurt Kraiger, who has provided great emotional support and career guidance and has been her biggest ally, helping her achieve her goals. With his support, she was able to have a child while in grad school, still graduate on time, and finish her last year working remotely in Pittsburgh.

Now that you have the tips and tricks for applying for this fellowship, let’s take a closer look at the research that winning it has allowed her to do. As a result of winning, she has been able to pursue her passion for leadership and development that started growing during an internship at Amazon where she became increasingly aware of the way technology is changing how organizations grow leaders, the importance of data-driven decisions, and the simple fact that technology companies needs help on the people front.

She took that passion to DDI, where she built the training program “Men as Allies” that became the basis of her dissertation. This was the perfect opportunity for her to explore her passion for learning and development because DDI was just building their women-in-leadership practice, helping women build their leadership careers. Victoria noticed that the program was just for women, but given that leadership pipeline progressively becomes male, she wondered “what can men do to create a more gender-inclusive environment” and foster diversity and inclusion at the highest levels of leadership within an organization? A more holistic approach was needed that focused on that what men and women can do together to get more women into that leadership pipeline.

So, she went to work. She built a “Men as Allies” training course and found a client that was willing to provide a treatment and control group. The training was conducted, and a follow-up survey completed 3 months later that included not only the managers who went through the training but also their direct reports. Although it was a small sample size, she found that men who attended training were more likely to speak up about gender equality and engaged in more inclusive leadership behaviors (e.g., mentoring and sponsoring). So impressed was the client that they are looking to expand to 400 leaders. Her research showed that it’s possible to train people to be allies and create more inclusive environments.

As our interview wrapped up, we ended the way we always do with a fun fact (something that people may not know). Hers is that she has sung the national anthem at a professional sporting event and has done additional singing “gigs” in Ireland, Seattle, Portland, Colorado, and Pittsburgh.

Finally her words of advice to graduate students:

  • Do research that you really care about; we have a unique opportunity to make the world a better place through the work that we do—make the work that you do your passion.
  • Find someone more senior who is doing research in that area and ask to collaborate with them—offer to do the grunt work to get research done/manuscripts done—show that you’re a good collaborator. Little steps like this can lead to big rewards. Remember that the answer is always no if you don’t ask.
  • Be involved in SIOP. It’s a great way to make amazing connections, be influential in our field, build your network, and so on. Victoria is the current chair of SIOP’s Events Subcommittee, a part of the broader Visibility Committee.


About the authors:

Liberty Munson is currently the principal psychometrician of Microsoft’s Technical Certification program in the Worldwide Learning organization. She is responsible for ensuring the validity and reliability of Microsoft’s certification and professional programs. Her passion is for finding innovative solutions to business challenges that balance the science of assessment design and development with the realities of budget, time, and schedule constraints. Most recently, she has been presenting on the future of testing and how technology can change the way we assess skills.

Liberty loves to bake, hike, backpack, and camp with her husband, Scott, and miniature schnauzer, Apex. If she’s not at work, you’ll find her enjoying the great outdoors or she’s in her kitchen tweaking some recipe just to see what happens.


Garett Howardson is the founder and principal work scientist at Tuple Work Science, Limited and adjunct psychology professor at both Hofstra University and at The George Washington University. Most of his work focuses on quantitative, psychometric, and/or computational issues to better understand the psychology of modern, technical work writ-large (e.g., aerospace technicians, computer programmers). 

Garett is also an avid computer geek. In fact, he has a degree in computer science, which he avidly applies to his research and work in pursuit of one deceivingly simple goal: better integrate I-O psychology and the data/computational sciences to understand work. 


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