Welcome to the team! Three new psychologists join WPG

Good things come in threes, or so the old saying goes. At WPG, we’ve just welcomed three new starters: Alison Gibbs, our new senior consultant; and Josh Scasbrook and Harriet Grace, our two new consultants. 

After giving them all some time to settle in, we sat down to ask them more about themselves and their careers, from how they work to their pet peeves. Let’s dive in. 

1. What made you want to work as an Occupational Psychologist?

Harriet says: “I have a strong personal interest in, and passion for, neurodiversity and widening access to the workplace for all people. My younger brother, Michael, who is only 18 months my junior, has severe Autism, ADHD and Learning Difficulties, which means I have (almost) lifelong experience of the barriers people like him face to access the same opportunities afforded to others. I also spent some time earlier in my career directly supporting individuals with Autism to access their communities and personal passions, and I will aim to be an advocate for them for as long as I am able, including advocating for equal employment opportunities and accessible workplaces. 

Alison reflects: “For years, I wanted to be a music therapist until I realised that, firstly, I probably wasn’t dedicated enough as a musician, and secondly, I actually had much more of an interest in business and organisations that I had previously recognised – perhaps from hearing my Dad talk about his work in organisational change and transformation. I thought becoming an OP would allow me to marry two core interests: ‘helping people’ (cliché, I know) and business. It also made a huge amount of sense to me – people spend an enormous amount of time at work during their careers; surely we should be doing everything we can to ensure that they enjoy this experience and are fulfilled.”

Josh says: “I have been fascinated with social psychology and interactions of groups since my undergraduate studies in Psychology. Occupational psychology builds on these principles and applies them to jobs, a critical aspect of most peoples’ lives. Now individual careers can last for up to 50 years, I think it’s important to make sure that everyone can have a fulfilling relationship with their work.”

2. What’s the best thing about your job?

Alison and Harriet both agree that the variety is what makes them enjoy their roles the most.

Harriet explains: “The thing I love the most about consulting is the variety it offers to keep your mind busy! I have been working in consulting roles for a few years now, and I have had the privilege of working with many different organisations. I really enjoy getting challenged with new things regularly, and I find this super energising at work.”

3. What are your pre-WPG career highlights? 

Josh highlighted his experience as a senior project manager: “Working as a senior project manager with other occupational psychology firms gave me a grounding in the logistical aspects of performing occupational psychology work. I have also worked in consultancy roles in insurance ranging from project management to GDPR.”

Alison recalls her presentation at the leading American occupational psychology conference: “Presenting to a packed room at SIOP as part of a symposium on media-rich recruitment tools; the conference was so prestigious, beautifully organised and slick – like no other conference I’d been to; it was daunting and exhilarating!”

Alison, who brings senior experience from her previous organisation, also reflected on “The steady transformation of my team when I moved into the team leadership role at my previous organisation, from a more hierarchical, fragmented culture with a plethora of performance issues to a high-performing team with democratised team ownership. I was so proud of the part I played in getting to a place where ‘the team’ was the reason people wanted to work there.”

4. Any embarrassing OP moments?

Harriet says: “Touch wood, not yet, but I am only three weeks into my first OP role, so I suspect it’s only a matter of time! I am the world’s clumsiest person, so I look forward to falling over at a client meeting or similar.”

Alison recounts, “At the aforementioned SIOP conference, the chair was putting slides together an hour or so before our session started; when I gave her my USB stick, it completely crashed her laptop and caused a load of issues. Panic ensued. I have no idea why this happened and was mortified!”

5. What attracted you to working at WPG?

Josh is looking forward to engaging with meaningful research. “WPG’s research-led approach which is grounded in the scientific method adds rigour to what we do. That gives me confidence that I can make the best recommendations to my clients, supported by clear evidence.”

Harriet was also drawn to WPG’s expertise and research-based approach: “The WPG team have such a huge amount of OP expertise and a wide range of interests. I have already learned so much and worked on various projects. All of the work WPG does is rooted in the latest research, which has been great to see and has given me full confidence in the services we are offering. It is also great to see firsthand how WPG’s work helps to widen access to the workplace whilst reducing the adverse impact of recruitment processes on minority groups. I also really look forward to working at the current edge of organisational psychology research and practice as we get into the wider accessibility of things like generative AI. That and WPG’s remote working mean I never have to use the Northern line at rush hour again!”

Alison was attracted to a few different elements. “One was the type of clients and projects WPG often works with – organisations with a public or social purpose, alongside projects with aims such as widening access and enhancing ED&I. Another was the uncompromising emphasis on evidence and research – and the awards being won for exceptional client work. Finally, the tone of WPG’s external communication, website, and, later, assessment process suggested a supportive and inclusive culture, which was incredibly important to me.”

6. What are your areas of expertise and interests?

The three new team members bring a variety of skills to WPG. Harriet focuses on neurodiversity, equality, diversity & inclusion (ED&I), and organisational change management. Josh specialises in psychometrics, data analysis, employee retention, and generational and cultural workplace attitudes. Alison, the most experienced new team member, brings her expertise in pre-hire assessments, team management, and enhancing inclusivity and fairness in assessment processes (primarily SJTs).

7. What makes you cross?

Harriet gave us an insight into work and life, “At work: Poor recruitment, lack of career progression and poor access to CPD practices, trying to move images within a Microsoft Word document, bad wifi, micromanagers, unsubstantiated mandates to work from an office without flexibility, Teams messages that say ‘hello’ and nothing else. Outside of work: I live in London, so there are tube delays, people standing on the left of the escalators, ridiculously overpriced food, waiting times for a bus when outside of London, thinking about the last series of Game of Thrones, and the squirrels who are currently stealing all of the strawberries from my strawberry plant.”

Alison keeps it short and sweet, “Lots of things! But in the world of work, black box decision-making.”

And Josh followed suit with a concise answer: “Making uninformed decisions without understanding the ramifications of said action.”

8. What sort of workmate are you? 

Harriet shares, “I think I am friendly, flexible, patient, open to learning new things and willing to give anything a go. Going forward, I’d like to work on my leadership experience too. I won’t ever send you a Teams message just saying ‘hello’, I promise.” 

Josh hopes to bring enjoyment to the WPG team, which is something we love to hear! “I am collaborative and calm, I enjoy listening to lots of ideas but I can be pragmatic when necessary. Plus, I try to make the workplace as enjoyable as possible as there are times when brightening up someone’s day can make a big difference.”

Alison will be bringing humour and laughter to WPG. She also shares, “I like to think that I am supportive, encouraging, and ready to help anyone out in a fix.” 

We think all three will fit in at WPG very well!  

9. Finally, what are the three key challenges organisations are facing today?

Alison sneaks in an extra answer for us: “Talent mobility and retention. A huge amount of investment goes into hiring the right person for the role, and a high turnover rate is extremely costly. However, the reality is that many people don’t see their roles as long-term. A ‘job for life’ is an outdated concept, and much of the workforce wants variety and choice in some shape or form. I wasn’t going to write AI as it’s on everyone’s lips already, but it’s so important I felt I couldn’t NOT include it. I think it presents amazing opportunities for organisations, as well as challenges. Addressing inequality in the workplace is also very important, and an extra one: environmental sustainability.”

Josh’s top three are: “The attitudinal shift of workplace expectations (cultural, economic) incoming from gen Z and Alpha compared to older generations; employee retention and motivation following economic shocks, governmental/business policy changes or restructuring; and finally understanding the impact of the psychological contract that goes past remuneration for employees and impacts ways organisations can retain their talent.” 

And finally, Harriet’s top three are: “Navigating the introduction of generative AI and getting the benefits out of it; continually improving their Equality, Diversity and Inclusion practices as research and knowledge progresses; and reducing their carbon footprint and balancing their processes with sustainability needs.” 

We think you’ll all agree, that all three of our new colleagues bring some amazing expertise to our growing team of psychologists. You can meet our full team here.