Employee Spotlight: Reflections on a Week at SIOP as an FMP Consultant

Ever wonder what a first-year consultant gets up to at SIOP? Read on to see how FMP Consultant Caitlin Briggs spent her SIOP in Chicago this year.

How long have you been working as a consultant, and how long have you worked at FMP Consulting?

Prior to FMP, I periodically worked as a freelance or contract consultant for 6 years during my time as a grad student in the Michigan State University I/O Psych PhD program. I’ve been at FMP for a little over a year now.

What kinds of projects do you work on at FMP?

I currently support tasks for the National Science Foundation and the Securities Exchange Commission that range from employee engagement, data reporting, FEVS analysis, to competency modeling.

How many SIOP conferences have you attended?

Chicago was my 7th SIOP conference! I’ve now presented at five SIOP conferences.

Why did you go to SIOP?

SIOP is one of the best ways to learn about the latest and greatest research and practices in the I/O psych world that I can use to inform my work as an FMP consultant. It’s also a great place to make connections in the industry. This year, I had two presentations accepted, including my dissertation research and a spot on a panel providing advice to students looking for internships.

Day One:

  • Evening – After flying into ORD, I grab some obligatory deep dish pizza with old grad school friends. I talk to a former classmate who is now a professor at a top research university and another who works in people analytics at a biotech company (how far we’ve all come since school!). I chat with junior students. Then, I’m off to an FMP meet-up at a restaurant on the riverwalk! This is a great chance to talk in person with some coworkers I normally work with virtually.

Day Two:

  • Morning – I get up early for the conference breakfast (bagels galore!). I attend a couple of SIOP panels. I learn tips on how to effectively communicate I/O insights to senior executives. The tips feel very applicable to me as an external consultant working with clients as well. I attend an IGNITE session on SIOP’s Top 10 Work Trends, including how to reshape work to address employee mental health and psychological safety in the workplace.
  • Lunch – I meet up with an old classmate who has begun working in executive leadership consulting. At lunch, I also meet her colleague, who works in a Big Tech company I interned at previously and received her PhD from my undergrad institution — I/O is such a small world!
  • Afternoon – I attend a couple more sessions focused on surveys and data. The one that particularly stands out to me was about the integration of data across the employee lifecycle for analysis and reporting, as I just worked on something similar for a client. I check out the poster presentations and connect with old colleagues from when I worked at OPM.
  • Evening – I try to find SIOP’s Practitioner Reception, but I get lost in the labyrinth under the conference hotel. Instead, I end up trailing a friend to a talent assessment firm’s reception. I finally end the evening at the (stunning) Chicago Athletic Association hotel for the USF reception. I catch up with many old friends and acquaintances across academia and industry.

Day Three:

  • Morning – More bagels and sessions! I support a session that my friend is chairing and learn about cutting edge multi-team system research being done with NASA and researchers across the world. I contemplate the applications for my own work (how does decentralization affect the context of my client’s organization?). I catch up with another friend who is an I/O professor in South Carolina.
  • Lunch – I skip lunch, oops! SIOP is always so busy!
  • Afternoon – I meet with a prospective job applicant for FMP. I discuss my experience at FMP and answer their questions. SIOP is a great place for reaching out stellar job candidates and FMPers are always happy to share our experiences. Then, I meet up with other FMPers for an architecture river cruise. I learn so many fun facts about the skyscrapers lining the Chicago River!
  • Evening – I eat a phenomenal Italian dinner with some more I/O friends. I head to my PhD alma mater’s reception and see some familiar faces. I get pulled away and end up chatting with a coworker from undergrad who so happened to go into I/O and now works for a research institute in California – I/O continues to be a small world! I end the night having “second dinner” with FMP colleagues. (Anyone else have extra dinners to fit in all their meet-ups at SIOP??!)

Day Four:

  • Morning – Another day, another bagel. I prep for my first presentation of the day – a panel about internships for graduate students. Our panel goes smoothly with no mishaps and we are swarmed by eager students asking questions at the end.
  • Lunch – I grab lunch with several of the other panel speakers. We discuss our different experiences across internal consulting, external consulting, and data analytic work. On the way back to the hotel, I run into a couple of old classmates who are professors in Colorado.
  • Afternoon – I prep for my second presentation of the day – a poster presenting a portion of my dissertation. I make my way down to the exhibition hall to present. I meet a couple of professors whose students are studying similar topics to my dissertation and have old contacts stop by to say hello. It’s always a great feeling to know that people are interested in your work and remember you!
  • Evening – I eat some more phenomenal Italian food and discuss with friends how their SIOPs unfolded. I meet up with some former colleagues who still work at OPM, including some that are/have been on the PTCMW board.

Attending my 7th SIOP conference was so much fun! This year I tried to find sessions that were applicable to my interests and my work at FMP. Having recently graduated with my PhD in I/O Psych it was fun to catch up with friends and acquaintances from past classes, projects, and internships, as well as my fellow FMPers who were in attendance. This year I felt like I hit the right balance of sessions, networking, and sightseeing. I was excited to share my dissertation research with other I/Os and I was thrilled to speak on a panel with fellow FMPer Julie Jasewicz. I am looking forward to SIOP 2025 in Denver!

Caitlin Briggs

Caitlin Briggs is a Human Capital Consultant and joined FMP in February 2023. She received her PhD in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from Michigan State University and has published peer-reviewed research articles on various DEIA topics. At FMP, Caitlin works with agencies to improve and implement employee engagement processes, develop competency models, and facilitate data reporting. Caitlin also provides support for data analysis on various projects. In her free time, Caitlin enjoys exploring museums and restaurants in the DMV, walking her dog amongst the cherry blossom and magnolia trees, and traveling.