Amber Stark

Member Spotlight: Vivian A. Woo

Position/Employer: Senior People Science Analyst at Culture Amp

Interest area(s): DEI, Analytics, Emotions, Subjective Work Experiences

What sparked your interest in I-O psychology?
Definitely my early work experiences; when organizations and leaders make the wrong choices, employees suffer. I had been laid off twice prior to pursuing my doctorate, and that included a situation where we were offered our positions back as contract workers as well as being forced to train our replacements. Organizations have to do better, and I-O psychology can help.

What role do you see I-O psychology playing in the future of work?
I think that we can play a pivotal role in improving the nature of work, if we can overcome some of the big issues impeding our effectiveness as a field. This includes our PR/name recognition problem, the scientist–practitioner gap, and our overall reluctance to incorporate business acumen into our core competencies.

Which of the Top 10 Workplace Trends for 2020 do you most strongly relate to and how can I-O psychology practitioners, educators, and students impact this trend?
Diversity, inclusion, and equity have always been at the forefront of my experience as a woman of color in the United States ever since childhood. From my earliest memories where I recognized I was different from the people with the power, I have always wondered whether decisions made about me were in any way impacted by some aspect of my group identity. For those of us who live this reality, the pervasiveness of this questioning is second nature. In order to fully realize DEI in I-O psychology, this must be applied to all aspects of the field: the representation of our students, faculty, and our most prominent scholars and practitioners; the impact of all facets (e.g., selection, leadership, training & development) of our work on employees—anything that involves people can benefit from scrutiny under a DEI lens—and that’s everything I-O.

How long have you been a SIOP member?
11 years

What roles have you had within SIOP?
I started off as a student member, as many of us did. I’ve presented at the annual conference on numerous occasions, and I have also served on a number of committees, including WIN and CEMA.

What is one of your favorite SIOP annual conference memories/highlights?
The people—getting together with so many different I-Os to talk shop and other interesting tales of our experience in the field—seeing old friends as well as making new connections.

What advice would you give to students or early practitioners?
Experience the world of work in all its flavors. I was a returning student, and due to my work experience, I effortlessly connected what we learned in the classroom to moments from my past. Wisdom requires experience, so for early practitioners, learn about the work your non-I-O colleagues do, their work is just as valuable, and it will help you see the bigger picture.

Please share one non-I-O-related bit of information about yourself.
I’m a distance runner, and non-runners have asked me how I keep myself occupied when I’m running for hours on end. I tell them I keep my mind busy by thinking and brainstorming—from the mundane such as grocery lists or what to make for dinner, to the meaningful such as self-reflecting on recent events, but sometimes I also just daydream. However, I have also used my running-thinking time to ponder I-O-related topics such as research ideas and figuring out catchy titles for sessions and articles. I actually came up with a key aspect of my dissertation research while training for a marathon in graduate school.

Is there anything you would like to add?
With everything that’s happened in 2020, it’s made me wonder how SIOP can adapt as a professional organization and in what ways we will need to change to make ourselves relevant to the current realities of our world. I hope other I-O psychologists are thinking about this too. All I know is that doing the same old things won’t lead to progress.

If you would like to be considered for a Member Spotlight, or if you would like to recommend a SIOP member for a Spotlight, please email astark@siop.org.

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