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Meredith Turner
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Becoming a SIOP Fellow… A Story From the Trenches

Garett Howardson, Tuple Work Science, Ltd/Hofstra University & The George Washington University, & Liberty Munson, Microsoft

In the last edition of TIP, we provided an overview of the SIOP Fellow application and selection process. We have heard from many that this process feels a bit like a black box, especially for practitioners who typically don’t have the body of work in terms of publications that academics do. As a result, we thought we’d dig a little deeper into the journeys of several of our practitioners who have earned this prestigious designation.

In this edition, you can read about the journey that Cheryl Paullin took on the road to SIOP Fellow below. It doesn’t matter if you’re a practitioner or an academic, her story reveals several great tips for how you too can become a SIOP Fellow. Here’s her story…

Share a little a bit about who you are and what you do.


I am currently a division director at the Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO). I lead the Talent Management and Analytics Division, with four managers reporting to me. I continue to spend some of my time leading technical project teams and managing consulting engagements. I still roll up my sleeves and do some of the basic technical work. In the past, I also served in a business development role.

I have worked in the field of I-O psychology for 30 years. The bulk of my career has been devoted to developing and validating psychological assessments that are used to support high-stakes employment decisions, including preemployment screening and selection, promotions, and credentialing. I also have experience providing expert witness services, typically related to an organization’s use of high-stakes assessments. I received my PhD in I-O psychology from the University of Minnesota and spent 15 years at PDRI in Minneapolis before joining HumRRO in 2005.


Describe the “work” that you did that you think played a key role in becoming a fellow. What were your innovations/unique contributions to the field? How did you “significantly” impact the field?

In my opinion, I “significantly” impacted the field by leading applied research projects (primarily assessment development and validation) for about two dozen different clients, many of them organizations that play a key role in protecting U.S. citizens and supporting our way of life, as well as organizations that have a global impact. Examples include all three branches of the U.S. military (Army, Air Force, and Navy); public safety organizations at the local, state, and federal levels; and commercial organizations in the power generation, telecommunications, insurance, and transportation industries. I have also worked with many different jobs, many of which are mission critical for their organization and also for public safety and protection. Examples include firefighter, police officer, federal law enforcement agent, intelligence analyst, surveillance specialist, military helicopter and remotely-piloted aircraft (RPA) pilot, Army officer, Army and Air Force enlisted occupations, civil engineer, air traffic controller, mail carrier, and skilled manufacturing technician.


Describe the nomination process. How did you get nominated? Did you find someone to nominate you, or did someone else nominate you? How did you find people to endorse you or did your nominator do that?

Keep in mind that the nomination must be made by someone who is already a SIOP Fellow. In my case, my manager at the time, Suzanne Tsacoumis, who is also a SIOP Fellow, initiated the process. She offered suggestions for potential endorsers and asked me for names of people I believed would be willing to act as an endorser. She contacted them on my behalf. 

What did you include in your self-statement?

I started by giving well-deserved credit to the people who have helped me develop along the way and then provided an overview of the way in which I believe I have impacted the field. I described in greater detail four applied research projects that demonstrated the impact I had on client organizations, the people who work there, and the public. I also summarized ways in which I shared research findings and lessons learned, for example, through presentations at the SIOP and IPAC conferences, and mentoring junior I-O psychologists. Finally, I included a summary of ways in which I give back to the profession through service activities at the local and national levels.





What do you think is the secret sauce to becoming a Fellow as practitioner?

For most practitioners, there won’t be a long list of academic publications that demonstrate long-term streams of research. On the other hand, practitioners may be in a great position to demonstrate how their work has had a real impact on individuals, organizations, and society. That said, practitioners also need to be able to demonstrate how their work has helped advance the field of I-O psychology. Practitioners do this by mentoring junior I-O psychologists, presenting at conferences (and maybe publishing), and educating people other than students about what I-O psychologists can do. I feel that educating people other than I-O psychologists is one of the key ways in which practitioners advance the field. Finally, I think it’s important to show that you give back to the profession through service activities.



What advice would you give to those interested in becoming a Fellow?

  • Learn how work that you do impacted others and document it. For example, what was the long-term consequences of implementing a program you designed?

  • Document the ways in which you interact with non-I-O psychologists, especially instances when you build credibility with key decision makers such that they start turning to you (or other I-O psychologists) as a respected source of expertise.

  • Do your best to share what you’ve learned with other I-O psychologists in documentable ways. For example, be a part of an expert panel at the SIOP conference or participate in a mentoring program. If you can help an academic (professor or grad students) gain access to data, they may be able to do much of the leg work to carry out interesting research and help you publish it. This can be a way to get publications when you don’t have the time or resources to conduct research yourself.

  • Consider responding to an article in the I-O Perspectives journal about a topic you know a lot about, offering to prepare a white paper for SIOP’s Visibility Committee, or working on one of the SHRM-SIOP collaborative white papers. If you can’t do this much by yourself, try to get some others to help with the effort.

  • Get involved in service activities related to the profession at the local or national level. There are things you can do that do not require a heavy time commitment, such as serving on a SIOP committee or volunteering to do a presentation to the group.

  • Cultivate relationships with SIOP Fellows so you can build enough awareness of what you do to find people who would be willing to serve as an endorser. 




Any final words of wisdom?

Don’t be intimidated by the fact that you don’t have a long list of publications in peer-reviewed journals. But, do be aware that you must show some evidence of how your work as impacted the field of I-O psychology in addition to any impact it has had on your clients (internal or external).

Thanks, Cheryl! This is great food for thought if you’re considering applying to be a SIOP Fellow. Stay tuned for the next edition of TIP where we will share another practitioner journey on the road to Fellow.


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