Today it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Dr. Erin Greilick. She obtained her PhD in Organizational Behavior from Claremont Graduate University and has applied her knowledge to a variety of settings. Past experience includes working as a Research Psychologist/Assistant Director and later a Program Evaluation Consultant for the US Army, and a Human Resources Manager for Taco Bell. She is currently an Affiliate at Strata Leadership, a full-service leadership company based in Oklahoma City, where she works with organizations to identify and resolve complex issues. This interview will provide further information on her current role, strategies for graduate students to prepare for an applied setting, and other helpful insights into Talent Management.
TSL (Talent Science Lab): Please describe your current role, and what you find most interesting about this role.
EG (Dr. Erin Greilick): Right now I am an external consultant, working in the area of organizational development. It has been interesting to develop a network from scratch, because I moved to Oklahoma City about two years ago, and I didn’t know anyone here professionally or personally. Right now I am primarily helping organizations with training, which is the doorway into an organization. Most often training is the most broad-based way to address an issue. However, the majority of times you need to go deeper than a training intervention to really solve issues. Some of the other projects I have worked on include succession planning, leadership program development, and coaching.
TSL (Talent Science Lab): What do you enjoy most about your current role as a consultant?
EG (Dr. Erin Greilick): What I love most about my current role is the variation of what I encounter. It is really challenging to learn quickly what the problem is in a particular organization, or within a team, or a person, and start from scratch to build a good intervention for them. That has been entirely different for me because I used to be more of an internal consultant. Now I’m challenged to learn something new week by week.
TSL (Talent Science Lab): Can you tell me more about how you manage work/life balance as a consultant?
EG (Dr. Erin Greilick): There is definitely more work/life balance in consulting once you have developed your network and started your own business. When you are an independent consultant, you can have whatever flexibility you want. My understanding [of] being a consultant for a large firm is they are heavy on travel, especially when you first join—you leave on a Monday and come home on a Friday. Work/life balance has always been very important to me, so I chose not to work for a large firm to limit my amount of traveling. Internal consulting is where I naturally gravitated. I am an introvert, but I have learned to be more extraverted, which is important for organizational behavior, as you can imagine. What I most love is when I can build long-term relationships with people. Worth noting, though, organizational development is a very specialized field. So, when the economy isn’t strong, it is more difficult to find a lot of job opportunities in OD. If you are good with living in and around larger cities, though, it might not be as big of a challenge.
TSL (Talent Science Lab): What classes in grad school, or what skill sets did you learn while in grad school that you felt prepared you for your current role?
EG (Dr. Erin Greilick): There is nothing about my experience at CGU I would change. I loved creating a portfolio that helped you handpick items tailored for your resume and to build the experience base on your needs. But there is a drastic difference between what you learn in a classroom setting and what you will use in an applied setting. There is so much complexity that is difficult to include in an academic context. Also, CGU is well-connected in the professional community and can help you find possible internships and jobs. Take the classes you love, and know that when you get out there, it will be different.
TSL (Talent Science Lab): What are some current trends that you are noticing in your field?
EG (Dr. Erin Greilick): One trend I have picked-up on recently is the study of neuroscience and leadership, as well as neuroscience and emotional intelligence. I love emotional intelligence, and I love the sciences, so this is especially interesting to me.
TSL (Talent Science Lab): What is the most useful lesson you have learned while on the job?
EG (Dr. Erin Greilick): I have learned how important leadership is. There is so much that comes from good leadership. In fact, in some ways, everything I have ever done to try and improve performance at whatever level (individual, team, or organization), has always involved leadership in some notable way. The impact and responsibility of what it takes to be a leader is what I have learned over and over again.
TSL (Talent Science Lab): If you had to attribute your success to one experience or one trait, what would that be and why?
EG (Dr. Erin Greilick): I am an overachiever. I work hard, and I am a perfectionist. That combination can be extremely wearing. So what I realized is that the number of hours you are working does not mean you are doing your best work. I have been prioritizing what I need to be focusing on, and I help my clients see what they should be focusing on as well. Trait-wise, what has made the most difference for me is the sincere desire to help an individual. I think everyone is surprised when they come across someone who sincerely cares about them. So when you show them that you do care and you ask them the important questions, and follow-through with what you say, you are appreciated by the organization and able to do so much more because of it.
TSL (Talent Science Lab): What should grad students be doing right now to prepare themselves for a career in consulting?
EG (Dr. Erin Greilick): One thing I would recommend to any grad student is to get to know your fellow classmates. They are an invaluable resource for you while you are going through your program and they serve as the foundation for your future network. Regarding becoming a consultant, I would find opportunities to do applied work as soon as possible. Be an intern, paid or unpaid. Research, though I love and appreciate it very much, didn’t help me land the positions I was fortunate enough to have.