From Intern to Associate Director: my 10 years with WPG

Associate Director, Emma Morley, celebrates 10 years with Work Psychology Group this month. When she joined as an intern psychologist, the country was still basking in a post London Olympics glow, David Cameron was Prime Minister, and we were all hooked on the first series of Line of Duty. We asked her what’s changed and why she’s still delighted to be part of team WPG.

Let’s go back to 2012. What had you been doing before you applied to WPG?

I had various jobs prior to and alongside university.  These included working in a hairdresser and as a data entry operator.  Also as an estimator for a manufacturing organisation.

Around the time of my MSc in Occupational Psychology I completed internships at Saville Consulting and Talent Q (as they were called then).  This confirmed my interest in selection and assessment.

So why WPG specifically?

Its evidence-based practice and the type of projects WPG was working on really attracted me.  Especially given my interest in selection and assessment.

I had also heard of WPG’s founding partner, Professor Fiona Patterson, through the Work Psychology textbook as well as numerous research papers.  I really respected that.

Tell us about some of your proudest work achievements at WPG

A couple of years ago I led a piece of work with the British Medical Association (BMA) to develop a career tool for all junior doctors making tough decisions on which specialties to choose for their future careers. I’m hugely proud that this won a national award for social impact and received excellent feedback from users.

I led the implementation and evaluation of our assessment tool for junior doctors, taken by over 10,000 applicants each year. During the pandemic, the assessment was the mainstay for recruitment given the NHS couldn’t conduct face to face interviews. It was really satisfying to feel that my skill set had such an impact on NHS policy at that level, during those unprecedented times.

I’ve had the opportunity to present at several international conferences, published a number of papers in the highest impact journals and contributed to writing various book chapters.

I was also seconded to Australia for a year, leading our portfolio of work there and working with several newer clients, while being supported by the team back in the UK. I built good relationships – for myself and WPG – and learnt a great deal from the opportunity.

How have things changed for you personally in the past 10 years?

The short answer is massively. I went to work in Australia, got married, moved house and location several times, completed my Chartership with the support of WPG.  I now also have an 18 month old son.

At work, I started by supporting others as an intern psychologist before taking a step up to lead my own projects as a consultant. Next, I progressed to head our operations function and higher stakes projects, while providing supervision as a senior consultant. Now, as an Associate Director, I provide advisory support across the business.  Contributing to projects and our functions at a more strategic level.

How has WPG supported that change?

I really appreciate the flexibility and support that WPG has offered me in both career development and importantly through life changes. WPG takes a personal approach to supporting people as whole people, not just employees. I now work part time for example, which has been great for me and my family.

In terms of Chartership, WPG provided financial, supervisory and moral support. Given the variety of what we do at WPG I found it really easy to cover each of the required areas of practice.

I’ve been able to work with Fiona and Máire to steer my career based on my preferences and skillsets, combined with the business requirements. As a result, I’ve felt motivated and engaged throughout my career at WPG.

How does WPG in 2022 differ from WPG in 2012?

I personally think that the work we’re doing now is higher impact and this has come about through the collaborative relationships we have fostered with our clients. We’ve been able to have more of an impact on policy across all sectors. We see some different challenges within assessment, for example the use of technology and artificial intelligence.  And we’re well placed to advise our clients on this given our expertise in this area and our knowledge of the evidence base. Equality, Diversion and Inclusion (EDI) has also become an increasing focus.  As a team, we think this is so important and we’re really pleased the significance of EDI is being discussed and challenged more openly.

In terms of how WPG operates, much remains the same. And I think that’s testament to the values and ethos that Fiona and Maire have instilled from the start.

We remain an evidence-based consultancy and we’re a very supportive and high performing team.

We were also very forward thinking when it comes to flexible and remote working. These practices were firmly established long before the pandemic. And they work – then and now – because there is trust in the team.

Line of Duty and the Prime Minister are still fairly regular subjects of conversation. Not so much the Olympics now. Although, we do run our own WPG Olympics as part of our wellbeing programme.

Where do you hope to be in 2032?

 I love the variety of my role and I have throughout my time at WPG. No two days are the same and I thrive on that. I can get bored quite easily so the fact that I’m celebrating my 10th anniversary proves how engaging I find the work.

The impact we have at the policy level really motivates me – so I’d like to continue to contribute to high impact projects across a range of sectors. I’d also like to continue to support our Research, Development and Dissemination function and contribute to publishing high impact work that informs practice internationally. I’m actually planning to work alongside Fiona over the next couple of years on the new edition of Work Psychology, which I’m really excited about.

I’m also keen to continue supporting the development of newer occupational psychologists.

Work Psychology Group is currently recruiting a Senior Consultant Psychologist – Recruitment and Assessment.  Find out more here.