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Psychology at Work: What Do I-O Psychologists Really Do?



Sometimes one of the most difficult things for industrial-organizational (I-O) psychologists to explain to non-I-O psychologists is what exactly it is that they do.

The field of I-O psychology is, in fact, a varied one, encompassing almost any aspect of the workplace and people within organizations. I-O psychologists’ job titles and employment environments can be even more varied—ranging from employment consultants in private firms to testing and assessment experts in government agencies to psychology and business professors in university or research settings (For a PDF explaining potential job titles of I-O psychologists, read “What’s in a Name?”here. For informational brochures about I-O, click here.).
The following is part of the SIOP Psychology at Work series, a group of surveys of SIOP members meant to better explain the myriad career paths and research interests explored by SIOP members as well as the numerous contributions and innovations the field of I-O psychology has made to the workplace. For each profile, we will delve into the job of a SIOP member to gain a greater depth of insight into what they do, who they work with, how their work affects others, and why they believe I-O psychology matters.
Continue reading for information on what it’s like to be an I-O psychologist for SIOP Member Ken De Meuse!
Name: Kenneth P. De Meuse
Job Title/Company: VP of Global Research, Korn/Ferry International
Job responsibilities:  Develop and validate new and existing leadership assessments, thought leadership, select business development activities, present at key internal and external conferences and meetings, update global norms on all assessments, manage a team of five.
My specific I-O interests (research and/or practice): Organizational downsizing, leadership, and teams.
My career path/job history: 1. internal HR consultant at Union Carbide, 2. assistant professor of psychology at Iowa State University, 3. internal HR consultant at Intergraph Corporation, 4. professor of management at U. of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, and 5. VP of Global Research at Korn/Ferry International.
How I became interested in I-O psychology: I have always been interested in enhancing engagement, health, and productivity in the workplace by applying what we know about human behavior and attitudes.
A typical day at my job includes: No two days are alike – typically, responding to client research questions, reading reports, writing papers, BD activities, analyzing studies and findings, managing my team.
What I like best about my job: See answer to “A typical day at my job includes”!

Some of the challenges of my job: Hiring quality employees, communicating our research findings so our consultants and clients can use them.
Something others may find interesting about me: I am an avid sportsman— continue to play basketball whenever I can. I founded the Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center in 2001; continue to own the facility as an investment.
My other I-O and SIOP-related activities: I generally present at SIOP, and occasionally at APA, AOM, and SHRM. I try to publish one to three journal articles a year.
My advice to future I-O psychologists: Be prepared to explain to others what I-O psychology is and what you do at work. Be willing to venture outside your comfort zone to learn, grow, and develop – careers are journeys, not destinations.
Why I-O psychology matters: Our research affects people’s lives!

To read archives of SIOP’s Psychology at Work series, click here!