Past Presidents Interviews

Interview with Virginia Schein PhD - President of Division 1, 2002-2006

"Building international perspective"

Interview conducted by Barbara Kozusznik in Katowice, Poland, October 7th 2015

How did it start? How did you become President of Division 1 IAAP?

My first IAAP meeting was in Munich in 1978 where I gave two talks (with my 4 week old son with me) on gender stereotypes. Much later, in 1998 I became a program chair for the   International Congress of Applied Psychology (ICAP) in San Francisco.  Fred Fiedler, Susan Jackson, Richard Campbell and I were all co-chairs for the Division 1 program for ICAP.  

Because of my work as a program co-chair, I was nominated and then elected as Division 1 president-elect in San Francisco.

How did you feel being nominated?

I was very proud and excited. I always liked the work of IAAP and believed in the value and power of global connectedness. As president – elect I started the idea of holding small symposia at conferences like SIOP.  In 1999 I arranged for a special symposium on “International Global Perspectives” about Division 1 of IAAP at SIOP. It was first time that Division 1 did something like that outside IAAP.

Why did you start it?

I wanted to help internationalize SIOP and make the members of SIOP more aware of this international association.  We had a roundtable and everybody was invited. When I was president we organized another Division 1 Roundtable at SIOP in 2003 as well as a Roundtable at EAWOP in 2003. In 2005 the Division of Occupational Psychology invited the entire Division1 Executive Committee to put on a symposium at their annual conference.   All of these events helped to raise awareness about Division 1 and IAAP and build an international perspective.

Do you think that you broke some barriers?

As President of Division1 I wanted to have an executive team to run the Division, to have a lot of ideas from people from different countries. At our initial meeting in Singapore in 2002, the first thing we did was develop a mission statement with specific objectives.  That kept us on track for the next four years and kept everyone involved.  The meeting in Singapore was very important because it helped to create the new focus with new forms of running the division and getting more people involved. We started to use email correspondence which was something new at the time.  We became a virtual team.  Before we had to use just telephones and fax. At first it was very challenging to work together virtually in a cross cultural environment. There was a lot of ambiguity and different styles of communicating. For example, I had to learn that the American style of being so task-oriented can sometimes look very rude in emails.  I took great care with my emails so as to minimize that effect on my team members.

IAAP only meets every 4 years at ICAP so developing and maintaining international relationships is important.  At our meetings we always organized social hours.  One special one was one at ICAP 2002 in Singapore, co sponsored with the Division of Occupational Psychology in the UK.  Another special one was organized at ICAP 2006 in Athens on the roof of our conference hotel with a fantastic panorama of the city below. It is events like these that build friendly relations among international colleagues.  

What helped you in your presidency?

People! I had a fantastic executive team. Working with me were: Jose Peiro (Spain), Filip Lievens (Belgium), Rene Bouwen (Belgium), Miriam Erez (Israel), Handan Kepir Sinangil (Turkey), Barbara Kozusznik (Poland), and Dick Ritchie (US). Everyone put a lot of time and effort into building a successful Division 1.  I am very grateful to have had such a committed group of people to work with.

What is your biggest achievement as a president of Division 1 IAAP? What is personal pleasure?

I think my biggest achievement was developing an executive team that was able to do so much for Division 1. In addition to all of the symposia and roundtables in other organizations, we also introduced the first survey of the membership (thanks Barbara) and the first electronic division newsletter. Of course our Division 1 ICAP program in Athens in 2006 was a huge success. The greatest personal pleasure for me was to meet so many fantastic people who have become my personal friends. We all had wonderful times together in Warwick, UK, Lisbon, Portugal, Athens, Greece, Singapore and places in the US. 

Interview with Prof. Jose Maria Peiro - President of Division 1, 2006-2010

"Team work is a basis”

Interview conducted by Barbara Kozusznik in Valencia, Spain, December 1, 2015.

How did your presidency start? What were your thougts about your role as a president?

My work for  IAAP  started  when I was invited by the organizers to  join the scientific committee of the 23rd ICAP in Spain, held in Madrid  in July1994. At that time Fred Fiedler was the President of Division 1. I was coordinating the program of Division 1 as a representative of  Spanish Work and Organizational Psychology and soon I was invited also to serve as link of the Division with the Spanish organisers. ICAP was very stimulating for me and I met a lot of interesting people. After the Congress, I got involved in Division 1 as its Secretary 1994-1998. I worked with Miriam Erez and our cooperation was very good at that time. At that time email and Internet were not so easily available and used. We exchanged a lot of information by fax and it was not so quick! When Virginia Schein started Her presidency of Division 1, I remember that documents generated in Apple were not easy to convert in Windows nor vice versa. I think that it was Virginia who invited me to be candidate as president of Division 1. I submitted my candidacy and in 2002 I was elected as president elect by the General Assembly in Singapore (July, 2002).

Of course, I was concerned because I saw it as an overwhelming responsibility, but in the case of IAAP you have four years to learn and to work in a team and I was fortunate to serve as President elect under the presidency of Virginia Schein, and thus I had the opportunity to learn a lot from her.

What was your main task, main issue you wanted to develop in Division 1? What do you  think was new, breaking some eventual barriers?

My first ambition was to involve as much as possibile members of Division 1 in the development of activities to promote and develope our discipline. I took an updated membership list and checked where our members came from and started to promote participation of people in different countries. I started to ask them to write something about their activities and the situation of Work and Organizational Psychology in their countries for our Newsletter. In this way I was aiming to make Division 1 more international and visible. In Division 1 there are members from many countries and my aim was to promote visibility of the developments and the richness of our discipline in these countries. Moreover, to develop and promote Division 1 internationally, I contributed to create the Aliance for Organizational Psychology aiming to join forces with EAWOP and SIOP in promoting the internationalization, visibility and impact of our discipline at an international scope. Another goal I aimed to contribute to was to get members involved from developing and low income countries, or regions who were not native in English like Latin America. I wanted to stimulate individual engagement.

In all this activities, I met wonderful people who helped me a lot. Especially Kristna Potocnik, who was at that time a PhD student in our program at the University of Valencia and also the President of the students Division of IAAP. We cooperated a lot in the activities to promote both the Division 1 and the Division 15. She was great help and we all benefited from her great initiative. She was suggesting a number of activities we could undertake to develop Division 1 and Division 15. During her presidency she organised several activities aiming to provide students with information on how to publish, how to organize workshops etc.

What is your greatest achievement, success as a president?

It is not always easy to mention great achievements because promoting an international Division, with limited means and resources makes really difficult the task of leading and stimulating results. In any case, I think we contributed to make the Division lively in terms of stimulating information actively. We created the AOP and this is a good example of cooperation between international associations. I am very proud of my Executive Committee team and other people who willingly cooperated. We profited from electronic communications and we developed during my term as president of Division 1 messages for the membership and send out regularly the Newsletter of the Division. Thanks to the cooperation with Division 1, we attracted young members to Division 1. I take personal pride when I realize that even when it is difficult to co-operate and be active without face-to-face meetings we are eager and able to promote, stimulate and exchange information. That was one of the most important factor in my activity as president. It was very important in the context of Master of Erasmus Mundus in Work, Organizational and Personnel Psychology and helped me to achieve a synergy effect between Division 1 and Erasmus Mundus Master to take into account cross-cultural competences, to learn different views in different context. Last but not least, during my presidential period the Executive Committee worked hard to present an excellent program in the ICAP held in 2010 in Melbourne. Leading scholars and highly prestigious researchers contributed to a well-populated program that also included several Divisional activities with the aim of promoting several strategic lines in our division (e.g. cross-cultural research incubators, round tables and debates, etc.).