Before a well-earned holiday break, Student Strategic Business Networking caught up with Charlie Eyre, AFBPS, Chartered Psychologist and Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute. Charlie is currently Senior Associate Consultant with Work Psychology Group, based in Derby.
DLH – Charlie, thanks for making time to speak with us. Could I ask how you started out on your career?
CE – I originally spent some time in the field of Clinical Psychology before completing my MSc at the Institute of Work Psychology in Sheffield in 1997. After graduating, I must admit that I found it tough to break into the Occ Psych world, given the limitation on the number of pure OP entry-level jobs.
What I learned from this experience was that I needed to be flexible in my outlook. Although I won’t deny that it felt a bit like being a distraction from my long-term career goals, looking back I’m glad that I gained a place on a graduate programme with Halifax Bank as an IT systems developer.
DLH – What do you feel is the key message from that time?
CE – Well, for me it was necessary to make a move that – at the time – looked as if I was growing away from the OP discipline. However, working in a large organisation, even if not in a psychology role, can open some doors and opportunities to continue to apply your psychology learning, and also acquire some very valuable practical work skills.
DLH – There has always been strong demand for OP entry-level jobs, hasn’t there?
CE – Yes, absolutely, but the nature of the OP discipline lends itself to application in a wide range of professions – many of my fellow Masters students have gone on to successful careers in HR, Learning and Development, academia, as well as roles that carry a job title of ‘psychologist’. In this respect, a Masters in OP tends to be applied in a wider range of contexts than, say, the Clinical or Ed Psych doctorates. So we shouldn’t forget the wider opportunities that OP affords.
DLH – What would you say to those students who are perhaps thinking that the MSc ‘guarantees’ access to the profession?
CE – I can understand that anyone who complete the MSc will have put a lot of time, effort and financial commitment into this. Even once you’ve graduated, there is likely to be tough competition to get your first rung on the ladder. For me, the Halifax role, while not a psychology position, did eventually help me get my next role, which led to a 16-year period working as an occupational psychologist in National Police Training. This has been the primary focus of my career since – the design, delivery and evaluation of high stakes assessment processes including national assessment centres, psychometric tests, work-based assessments and sifting tools. I’d also say the job gave me organisational experience in client management at senior and executive / board level which has proved invaluable.
DLH – What specific opportunities do you feel there are for those graduating over the next few years?
CE – I’m glad you asked that question, because I genuinely feel there is an awful lot to play for. While there is tough competition to enter the profession, those who are willing to be persistent, to network extensively through things such as professional gatherings and conferences, and be flexible in terms of their initial career pathway, are likely to make headway in terms of initially establishing themselves in the profession.
DLH – What about things like webinars?
CE – Absolutely. I think it’s easy to forget that this is another way to raise profile through contribution and engagement. It’s important to take all available opportunities to meet colleagues and expand your network in the profession, but the online networking opportunities that now exist are also important. Taking this point further, the generation who have grown up with social media definitely have something to offer in order to take the application of occupational psychology to the next level. I liken this to the late 1990s when internet-based psychometric testing first came on the scene. It was those who had the vision at the time to see how this could revolutionise the world of testing who have since been hugely successful in applying this.
So yes, it’s a little bit about opportunity spotting for what may be coming next. And again, even though your job title may not mention psychology, it’s important to be able to make the link back to what you know and how this can be applied to the current business context.
DLH – Charlie, thanks so much for your time and interesting insights. It’s been great to speak.
CE – Thank you. You’re welcome.