We recently chatted with I/O Psychology professional and UMBC alum, Twisha Thakore '19, M.P.S. I/O Psychology. We spoke about the critical elements, qualities, and skills needed to be effective as an I/O Psychologist. Accordingly, she highlighted the importance of safeguarding the delicate balance between business and the human element.
The art and science of I/O Psychology operates on the notion that people are more than data on a screen. Generally, it's often the responsibility of the I/O Psychologist to interpret data points. Basically, they create a story to explain the data to stakeholders in terms that will create meaning and context. Through telling the story, an I/O Psychologist equips stakeholders at all levels with helpful information. Consequently, this info helps them to make sound decisions and plan of actions for their learning and development initiatives. Notwithstanding, data is worthless without meaning, context, and understanding behind it.
Twisha stated that I/O Psychology is about having a balanced act between corporate strategies and people. We need to use psychological principles to ensure that the human element is protected at all costs.
Learn more about the M.P.S. in I/O Psychology at UMBC:
Dennise Cardona 0:00
Welcome to this episode of UMBC Mic'd Up podcast. My name is Dennise Cardona from the Office of Professional Programs at UMBC. Today, we are joined by an alum of our UMBC IO Psychology graduate program, Twisha Thakore. And she comes to us from India. And we have a really great conversation about IO psychology, her role in it, the things that she learned, and we hope that you enjoy this episode.
Thank you so much for being here Twisha. It’s really wonderful to have you on the UMBC Mic’d Up Podcast!
Thank you so much, especially for considering me to be part of this entire initiative. I really thank you from the bottom of my heart. Seriously. Thank you.
Dennise Cardona 0:45
You're very welcome. Where are you coming from? So you are not in the States right now. Right? You are somewhere else? Tell us where you are.
So I'm currently residing in a city called Ahmedabad, which belongs to the state of Gujarat. And it's obviously in India. So yes, I'm back to my country after pursuing my masters from the States. But it's really good to be connected to you.
Dennise Cardona 1:14
Oh, it's really great to have you here. It's so I just love how technology lets us connect with people all over the world. I mean, 10 years ago, this would not have been, it just wouldn't have been something that we could have considered. So it's really, it's really a great, wonderful benefit and move forward and with progress in the world. So yay for technology. So Twisha, when did you graduate from UMBC’s IO Psychology graduate program?
So I believe I graduated in spring 2019.
Dennise Cardona 1:47
Very nice. So right before the world had the pandemic hit.,
Correct. That's right. I mean, I feel blessed, at one point of time and a little bit privileged that we were amongst the last batch or group of students who could at least complete our capstone project presentation with the clients while being with them in their office premises, and also being able to present it, you know, in class, and not having zoom laptops or having the screens in between. So I'm really, really thankful for that.
Dennise Cardona 2:25
You were able to get back home to India to which I'm sure grateful for.
It was not a very pleasant journey trip back home, because it was exactly in the middle of a pandemic, when my country had started these flights, where we had to invest ourselves because they were pulling people to come back to their country safely. So yes, it was not that much of a pleasant experience, because it was right in the middle of the first wave. Oh, yes, yes.
Dennise Cardona 2:59
So speaking of journeys, and things like that, hopefully this will be more of a pleasant journey that we'll talk about what journey was to get to UMBC at the Universities at Shady Grove in the IO Psychology Graduate Program?
Okay, that takes me back to the memory lane. It's nostalgic, and it's definitely a pleasant journey. I'd start off like this. When I was sure that I wanted to pursue industrial and organizational psychology, I started looking out for programs that give the best of both worlds. I wanted to look forward to something that gave me practical experience, along with theoretical knowledge, and UMBC was the best choice for me because I really did not wish to pursue any Ph. D. program. And I guess the entire approach of, you know, how the program was designed in the first place. Because every single semester, we had courses that were offering us the opportunity to interact with clients and work with them in some or the other way. Right. And that's the reason why I had researched UMBC so much. And I was sure that even if I was gonna get into another university, which I did, I would get a scholarship there. I knew that UMBC was my destiny. And I'm so glad I did.
Dennise Cardona 4:30
Oh, that's really wonderful to hear. Wow. So what was it that made you choose UMBC over whoever that other institution was? What made you choose UMBC?
So as I said, it's a you know, the practical exposure, like how any course that I picked up, let's say for example, survey design and development that was taken up by you know, the professor she was very clear right from the start that You're gonna be interacting with one of the potential clients. And that's the reason that even today, I know how, in the practical world, I'm able to apply the principles and theory of server design. So it's that takeaway for me, which was very special. And I had looked up at all the testimonials from the alumni. And they had said the same thing. I mean, I don't think so that everyone can just simply have a flowery language on their testimonial. So experiences, you know, it's all of these experiences that I was really sure that I wanted to be at UMBC, which set them which setting university program very much apart.
Dennise Cardona 5:48
And so you decided this from India, you were living, you were living in India at the time, you were researching US institutions where you could go and you found UMBC? Well, we're so happy that you found us and that you found your home with us for a little while. Yes, absolutely. Fantastic. Now, what are you doing right now, in your current role? What are you using what you learned in IO psychology?
To a major extent, yes, um, I start off like this, that industrial and organizational psychology like IO, psychology, is not that much famous. So to say, not everybody knows about the field, or the application of yield and India yet, but to my surprise, I'm able to apply a lot of its aspects to my role, because they have given me the leverage of taking certain organizational development initiatives. So I'm a senior executive, with a software engineering company that has its locations, and its foothold in India, as well as in the Netherlands. And they provide IT solutions. So my job majorly is to provide certain organizational development initiative related solutions. Our strategic planning, offered them insights into employee engagement, and internal internal awareness, branding of HR initiatives. And I think I'm really happy that I'm doing all those things using the background and knowledge that I gained from the UMBC program. That's for sure. Yeah.
Dennise Cardona 7:41
'm curious, if India is not rooted exactly in IO psychology currently, how did you learn about the industry itself? What was it that you learned, and it piqued your interest, and you said, I have got to study this?
Um, so you know, just like how we look at different means on LinkedIn, especially. So there was this very small introductory chapter in my general psychology during my undergraduate program, and then there, and it talked about leadership. And that is something that I have always connected with. So my first thesis or my paper presentation was on leadership effectiveness. And that's how I got connected to the field of industrial and organizational psychology, right from my undergraduate program. And I knew I knew for sure that even though I didn't wish to do clinical, it was not that IO, psychology was my secondary option, but it had always been my primary interest, cause how the qualities of a human are clearly linked to their performance, and ultimately, their efficiency and meaning they get out of the work. And the satisfaction that they get out of work, is something that has always intrigued me into seeing what can they be more to this? What can science prove more into this? And that's why IO psychology I just knew I had to go in that direction.
Dennise Cardona 9:23
It sounds like a very fascinating career path. And, you know, if you think about it, we spend the majority of our waking hours in the work environment. And what a purposeful job it is to be able to come from the lens of I want to help improve the lives and the mindsets of people who are out there in the industry working and sacrificing their time with their family, with their, their hobbies with extracurricular activities. They're spending here, how can I better how can I improve that process for them, looking at it through the lens of psychology and how our minds work and how our passion points and where we derive happiness and all of that stuff,
It's so beautiful you put it there. I guess you have just seen words literally taken from my mind and translated into English. So Well, thank you.
Dennise Cardona 10:23
That's it, we have the paragraph, now we have the snippet, we can put it out there in the world. But I just I've been reading a lot, I have been reading so many books lately about mindset and happiness and, and being able to find that that pathway that makes you want to get up in the morning that makes you not put hit the snooze button on your alarm clock that makes me say, I want to go make a difference in the world, I want to make an impact. And sometimes for some people that makes an impact. But for some other people, it could be just for me that when I wake up in the morning, I want to know that I've helped touch one person in the world, at least one person, if I can at least make an impact on one person. It could be a small way, it could be bringing a cup of tea to my husband, it could be anything. If I know that I made somebody happy and shifted their perspective and their mood, then I feel like I've been successful. And so what a great thing that you could do: you could translate that sort of stuff, looking at and analyzing how a workplace is defined, set up? How they encourage and engage and interact with their employee base. That sounds so purposeful. Absolutely, what kind of skills and knowledge base did you take from the program, and now you can sort of apply it into what you're doing right now? What are some of the core ones that you would say?
First core knowledge that has helped me to even get through right from the internship phase to my first job. And now to my second job in India, there's just one, I'm so glad I took that course. And that's job analysis. Job analysis is like the core for everything, I feel like you know, it's like that ingredient, which you have to use for every recipe, you want to find out what's wrong with the training, go do the job analysis, you want to set the correct KPIs for even more than 50 roles, just go to Job analysis, you want to try and even start implementing strategic plans for next year. Job analysis is the first key to your answer. It's like, it's like a magnifying glass that can literally make you look through every small detail. Because it's that one particular job and the aspects around it, which has helped me to do and perform my role effectively. So every single time I had to come up with any kind of solutions for senior leadership, even in my current role, I would simply turn and, you know, start doing this entire job analysis process that I learned from the IO Psych program. And I guess, even though like, you know, the people in my company, they don't know what it means. They're like, Oh, she's doing her thing again. So.
Dennise Cardona 13:35
So you're brilliant, you're bringing that value, and they don't even realize they're not even sure what the mechanism is for that, bringing that value, but you are bringing that value, because of the skills that you learned? And I would imagine that part of that analysis is about asking really great questions. That's right, it's being able to find ask those questions that none maybe other people aren't even asking coming at it from different types of angles, exploring all the angles in order to find out what the findings are, what the root cause, causes are, and then being able to intelligently and I guess, you know, through solid research, be able to provide recommendations to be able to close those performance types type of gaps.
So, you know, what I have understood is the first quality that I had to adapt was to know the terms of every industry because IO psychology is like it's industry agnostic. It fits everywhere. So the first job was to know the terms. And the second job was to know what the management or senior leaders always wanted, and wanted to know what was causing a problem or what they wanted to achieve in the first place. And Job analysis had answers to everything. But I guess it was not just the job analysis, the process of it, the process of asking the right questions, lied in the survey design and development lessons that I just talked to you about. Right? So it was a combination of two. And at the same time realizing how the role of HR, specifically the management side gets absorbed in this entire process. So it was at every different stage, I have realized how different courses have helped me to at least complete the piece of the puzzle, especially when it came to employ effectiveness. And productivity.
Dennise Cardona 15:52
Yeah, because it's a lot of different skill sets that you're referring to here that come into play, to be able to do a really thorough deep analysis. And you've got to be able to construct, survey questionnaires, interview questions, a focus group, possibly, if you're doing focus groups, you need to be able to put that that detective hat on, right, and really dig deep to find what is it that people are walking over and not even realizing what is that and then you know, what a cool feeling that must be it must be kind of fun solving a puzzle like that. And then see it and see the excitement on the people who you're you're you're now you're handing this kind of their recommendations and your findings over to them. And let's be kind of fun to be able to blow them away that way.
I guess the speaking of recommendations, you know, the major part is how, I guess I call it just turning the entire data analysis report, turn the numbers into a story.
Dennise Cardona 16:52
Yes, yes. Oh.
So that that's the part, you know, when they're like, Okay, these are graphs. Now what. So that's the part where the entire foundation or the functional knowledge of research methodology comes into a major picture. Because you are now able to turn and look at any kind of glitches, biases that is happening, any any, any chaos that is going inside that entire data set, and then translate it in a manner where people are able to understand. And that's the beauty of it, that is
Dennise Cardona 17:35
The beauty of storytelling is at the heart of most anything. Most anything, we as human beings, we relate to stories, I mean, that has proven true throughout the ages, you know, around campfires and things like that, that's what stories are told. And that's how legends and that's not legends. That's how facts and cultures and history are passed down from generation to generation. So our minds, I believe, are geared towards that storytelling, the beginning, the middle, the end, we want that resolution, we want to be able to have that cycle, right? And if you can do that, what a powerful skill set that is. And I mean, anybody who's listening in, I wouldn't, I would encourage you to look at data, especially through the lens of storytelling, because the people on the other end now you've, I am sure that you have different clients that you have to pass this information to. So some of them are probably, you know, very high up, some of them are maybe mid level some or may be right there with you, you know, doing, doing the analysis, whatever you need to be able to translate this for the different audiences. Is that a challenge to be able to do that?
Oh, I guess it's a challenge at every stage. The challenge begins right from explaining what is an IO psychology. So I guess we've already you know, we're ready for the challenge, because we are already trained, right from the fact of explaining what is IO psychology? But yes, especially when it comes to you know, different industry people and at different levels, the stakeholders, and their interest areas also change. Right? So they are going to be able to understand not in the terms that IO psychologists speak. So it's not just a challenge. I say that. Just like you said right now it's speaking in their own language, telling a story in which they would understand, especially using the terms but which they are familiar with. So let's say if I have to talk to any of my senior stakeholders, I would have to portray it in a manner in which they were expected Think the results to come out versus the truth and the reality that they're facing, but in a way, which is also appealing to their business needs and requirements versus, versus when it comes to the people who are going to execute the strategies, right? They will need to know not just like the root cause analysis, but they will, they would also need a consulting side of an IO psychologist with every detail as to what to incorporate in their behavior, maybe in their plan of action, or maybe in their task management system, or maybe in their learning and development initiatives to make sure that they achieve the business needs and requirements that are set by the senior leaders.
Dennise Cardona 21:01
There is a lot unpack there.
Exactly. And then there are people who are not the executioner's but they are, they are the people who are going to get the effects of the strategy being executed upon them. Who will need a translated version as to why this entire thing is happening with them in the first place? Why do they need training in certain behaviors? Why do they need certain changes in the way they work? And why? Why do they need to change the way they're working just because they want to go from x to y. So it's I guess, these three levels I have tried to understand at every different level. But yes, as IO psychologists, the psychology part of it is what we will have to like, take from you know, from from the books and try and implement it just so to ensure that strategies, satisfaction, and efficiency are all together on the same plane.
Dennise Cardona 22:17
That is such a well stated. My goodness, really great conversation about IO psychology, this has been you know, it's about connecting. I think of it, I like to think in analogies and I, I think about a roadmap. And so you're different clients, you know, you're painting a roadmap for each one of them. And you have to connect the dots going back to the storytelling aspect, it's connecting the dots, and the dots that are relevant to them. So not all dots are going to be relevant to this level, this client or this client or this client. And I would imagine that's got to be really satisfying to be able to just put that cap on and and look at it from that way. So you're doing the analysis work. And then afterwards, you can have fun, because I think it's really fun. You get to have fun dissecting this analysis of everything that is your findings and recommendations and then putting it into a nice presentation that people will understand on their level. Yeah, Mm hmm. Now, my last question to you is, what advice would you give somebody who is considering entering this world of IO psychology?
Oh, my gosh, there's so many thoughts running through my mind. So I had a lot of juniors coming to me. So in India, there is a junior senior system. Okay. So anybody who is older to me, on the educational front, I would have to address them as a senior. And, you know, sort of like taking advice from them. A lot of juniors in my known circles tend to think that just because they want to pursue a career in psychology, but don't want to go into the clinical field, they can take an IO psychology sounder case. Oh, that's, you know, what I mean to say is that if you really want to understand what IO psychology is, it's all about trying to have a very, very balanced act between the ruthless corporate strategies that are already going on into the world which are only concerned with numbers. And on the other hand, you have the people aspect. And somewhere you are in between mediating these two different versions. And as a psychologist, you will be bringing that An element of such psychological principles to ensure that the human element is protected at all costs. If that's the value that you carry, then yes, please go ahead and pursue your psychology. If that's the value that you do not resonate with. There are other fields as just.
Dennise Cardona 25:23
That's a really great way to put it. That's, gosh, you just summed it up so nicely, for anybody listening who was either on the fence or maybe never even heard of IO Psychology and now they're, oh, wait a second, this sounds really intriguing. So you, you played both of those, which was really nice. What was your biggest takeaway from the IO psychology program at UMBC?
The biggest takeaway from the UMBC IO Psychology graduate program was the mentorship part, the mentoring program, and and the entire advisory board that Dr. Lasson introduced us to. It's something that is always going to stay with me forever, because it's not just an opportunity for networking. It opened up my in my insights into what actually the people who are trying to establish milestones in the field of IO psychology, who they are, like the faces of people in the field of IO, psychology, what they're doing and creating milestones and creating history, the advisory and the entire mentorship program and the advisory members. It's something that I'm always going to carry with me because I have connections with my mentors, even today. I look up to them, I talk to them, I make sure that whenever I'm stuck, I take their advice. So that is something that I would it's a it's a unique quality about the UMBC IO Psychology graduate program, that's for sure.
Dennise Cardona 27:11
Oh, that's great. Now, I love to end each podcast with a sort of professional development lesson. So okay,what's your favorite quote? What is it? What is that one quote that resonates with you?
Okay, that's a quote that, you know, applies to both professional as well as personal life, which my husband always keeps on saying to me, hope for the best. Make sure you do your best, and expect nothing in return.
Dennise Cardona 27:52
That's powerful. That is definitely a framework that allows you to be able to frame that and look at that every day, morning and night to remind you what's really important, and how to present yourself, present yourself in the world. Do you have a favorite? Do you have a favorite book that you'd like to share?
Um, so there are two favorite books that I have. The first one is Wise and Otherwise, by Sudha Murthy. I'm not sure but she's one of the co-founders of TCS, and she was a woman who was having this entire, you know, breaking the glass ceiling, right from the start of her career. And all her lessons she has quoted beautifully in this book called Wise and Otherwise, and especially as a young girl, it impacted me a lot. And the second one is Do Epic Shit which is by Ankur Warikoo. And I guess anybody who is trying to be you know, like trying to question themselves. It's a book for them, because the confidence through which I got from that book, I don't think so. I'll be ever be like, I'll always be forever grateful to that author. So yes.
Dennise Cardona 29:19
Absolutely. And one last question. Finish this phrase for me, success is
Success is the outcome of endless, diligent, honest efforts with absolutely dedicated time and true heart that you put into.
Dennise Cardona 29:46
I love that. That's a really great definition of success. And what I love about that is it's attainable and achievable no matter what you are measuring. So if it's going to make someone smile today, you can measure it by adding to what you just said. It's not unattainable like you have to do all of these things before you can reach success. You can reach it at this moment. Yes. Yeah. Wish I thank you so much for being on the podcast. This has been a wonderful conversation. I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved meeting you. I'm so excited that we were able to connect from our different country points, and be able to just have this really great conversation about a field. That sounds amazing.
Yes, absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. The pleasure has been mine, especially for you to even consider me and can thank you. Thank you. Just one last thing. Oh, one Indian gesture like Namaste. I hope you have a great day ahead.
Dennise Cardona 30:47
Namaste. Thank you for tuning in to this episode of UMBC’s Mic’d Up podcast. We hope you enjoyed it. If you'd like to learn more about our offerings, please do a search for UMBC's IO Psychology graduate program. Or if you are watching this in video format, scan the QR code on the screen.