Alumnae Spotlight

Katie O'Brien

Katie O'Brien '07


Katie O’Brien graduated from Agnes Scott in 2007 as a Psychology and Business & Economics double major.  She was born in Rochester, New York, grew up in Atlanta, moved to Houston, Texas for graduate school, and currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin.  She figures she will reach the west coast by the time she is 70.  She works for CUNA Mutual Group, an insurance company supporting credit unions and their members.  She is a Workforce Consultant and she is the resident Industrial and Organizational (I-O) Psychologist on her small team of three.  She holds a PhD in I-O Psychology from Rice University, where she worked in the Diversity and Discrimination Lab.  She wrote her dissertation on the importance of being able to say “no” to unnecessary workplace requests.  When thinking about Agnes Scott she wrote: “I think the small class size and engaged faculty were a luxury that I didn’t fully appreciate until I started working in other academic settings.  It’s simply not possible to have thoughtful discussion in a class of 75 and I really think having small classes allowed me to develop my communication skills and point of view in speaking and writing.”  She continues “as an internal consultant, it’s important for me to be able to give my expert opinion in a concise and relatable way, while also being able to defend my position statistically.  Having a liberal arts background from Agnes Scott trained me to think critically about problems and articulate my position.  I don’t think I’d be as good at my job if I hadn’t attended Agnes Scott.”  She loved the two research seminars she took with Dr. Hughes.  They gave her a leg up when she got to graduate school and had to start crafting her own research.  Now that she is out of graduate school, she finds that she really likes being an academic in industry.  She still adheres to strict measurement and design standards, but rather than doing academic research, she is impacting (and hopefully improving) the work lives of her company’s employees.  Her photo is of her at work.