Psychology and counselling - student stories
Mike Allan, Organisational Psychologist
What made you decide to study Psychology with the OU?
I undertook a supervisor development program while Cabin Crew with British Airways in 1996 and this stimulated an interest in psychology. As a result of this I enrolled for the Bsc (Honours) Psychology programme with the Open University in 1999 as it allowed me to study around my irregular work pattern. The OU careers adviser thought I might want to achieve registration with the British Psychological Society so this is why I focused from the beginning on the BSc. I was 38 years old at the time and the only qualification I had was my supervisor’s qualification.
What skills did you develop and how did they change your career path?
The BSc took me four years and I loved every minute of it. I had a diverse range of tutors, all of whom had an impact on my learning and development. While I was in my final year of the BSc I felt confident enough to apply for a management role in British Airways and moved into flight services management before I finished my degree. I was told that my ability to be succinct, assess and evaluate information, my time management and self motivation were all key drives in my promotion. These were all skills that OU study helped develop. One tutor had a huge influence on my decision to continue studying. He was positively inspirational, and I decided to change careers and ultimately work as an Organisational Psychologist.
How did your OU study help you gain a place on a Masters course?
In September 2003 I started my Masters in Occupational Psychology at Nottingham University while still finishing my BSc. I started the MSc in September and sat the exam for Cognitive Psychology at the OU in the October. I was already three months into my Masters before I got my final results from the OU. I achieved a distinction in Cognitive and also a 2:1 for my BSc. Nottingham agreed to take me on the grounds that if I had achieved all the previous results while holding down a full time job and studying I had exhibited the behaviours they were looking for in a Masters student, something nearly every OU student does!
How did your career develop?
I was promoted again while at British Airways and in 2005 took voluntary redundancy to start as an Occupational Psychologist with KBMA. I worked in this role for two years and also completed my Masters in Occupational Psychology. An opportunity presented itself to work as the Principal Consultant for a small consultancy in Brisbane and I moved with my wife and family at the end of 2007. I had started my Professional Doctorate in Occupational Psychology at University of East London in September 2006 and became a Chartered Psychologist.
What are you doing now?
I have just moved organisations again and am now the Associate Director of Organisational Development at Livingstones Australia, the largest Industrial Relations and Organisational Psychology consultancy in Queensland. There are a significant number of lawyers in the IR team that have a psychology degree. There are also three HR advisors who all have a psychology degree.
In 10 years, I have totally changed my career, moved to Australia with the increased standard of living, earn four times my salary of 10 years ago and professionally have an exciting and fulfilling career. I have just finished my Doctorate and submitted to UEL, and have recently become an Australian citizen.
Do you think you could have achieved what you did without the OU?
Not a chance. They gave me the start, the foundation, the confidence and enough flexibility to learn.
Would you employ an OU graduate?
Yes, because they have a unique skill set and invariably are resilient. Maybe that would be a good research project? Are OU graduates more resilient than other graduates? Doctoral thesis anyone?