From Research Methods to Senior Project Manager in San Francisco
Katie Popp ‘00 traces her Southwestern Experience from her research methods class during her sophomore year to her current career as a Senior Project Manager at Great Place to Work Institute in San Francisco
Call him/her: Senior project manager at Great Place to Work Institute
- Great Place to Work Institute is a San Francisco-based management consultancy and research firm dedicated to helping organizations build high-trust workplaces. The company’s philosophy is that high-trust environments promote cooperation and collaboration, leading to positive workplace interactions, higher profits, and greater productivity.
Tell us about your Southwestern Experience. I’d like to share with you today a bit about my Southwestern Experience for any of you who might be attending Southwestern or any who might want to know what a BA in psychology from Southwestern can get you out there in the marketplace. So, to start with I’d say that I decided to attend Southwestern because I grew up in College Station, Texas, which is best known for being the home of Texas A&M University. I knew growing up in College Station that I did not want to attend a large university for college, but I wanted to go to a university that was small-sized, allowed small classes and easy access to faculty as well as the ability as one individual to make a large contribution to the campus community. Very fortunately, I found Southwestern and it did not disappoint on any of those fronts.
What was your most rewarding experience at Southwestern? My sophomore year I took research methods which is a required class for all psychology majors and the professor was Dr. Tracy Giuliano. Research methods was an incredibly challenging class. I had to think in a way that I’d never thought before and learn things that were difficult to understand at first, but in the end I really enjoyed my experience in research methods and really liked research.
How did Southwestern prepare you for what you’re doing now? I took a bunch of other courses with Dr. Giuliano and had the opportunity to serve as a research assistant with Dr. Giuliano and through that experience – those classes and serving as a research assistant – I learned how to design and administer surveys, I learned how to collect data, analyze that data and I learned how to make the results applicable in the real world. From that experience Tracy Giuliano, Jennifer and I actually published a paper in a journal , in an academic journal, and at the time I was like hey this is pretty cool, senior in college and now I’m a published author, hey isn’t this great?”
Shortly after that I went out to the real world and after I graduated from Southwestern I moved out to San Francisco California to see what the west would bring me. A few years down the road in 2002 I found myself in an interview with a flood line company called Great Place to Work Institute. They were looking for someone to produce their Best Companies lists, including Fortune Magazine’s “Best Companies to Work For” … They produce those list based on employee surveys and management questionnaires from a number of companies and it is evaluated. I went into the interview. Sitting at the table I was able to pull out my paper that Dr. Guiliano, Jenifer and I wrote at Southwestern and I pushed that across the table and said, “Hey, here is what I know about surveys and research, and here is what I can do for your company.” Very fortunately I got the job at Great Place to Work Institute and I’m still working there today, eight years later.