Meet the Candidates: Dr Laura Dean

Dr Laura Dean is one of five candidates standing for the role of President-Elect this year.

BPS Grade: Chartered

Current employment: Senior Teaching Fellow at the University of Sheffield Institute of Work Psychology

Any current roles within the society: Member of the Division of Occupational Psychology Training Committee; Member of Division of Occupational Psychology Awards Committee

Any previous roles within the society: Editor of the North East of England Branch Newsletter; Member of the Education and Training Board (co-opted); External Examiner for the Stage 2 qualification in Occupational Psychology

Membership of any society member networks: Division of Occupational Psychology; Division of Academics, Researchers and Teachers in Psychology


Dr Laura Dean
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My extensive experience in leadership roles, coupled with a demonstrated commitment to ethical governance and strategic leadership, positions me as a candidate well-equipped to fulfil the responsibilities of the President-Elect role.
Dr Laura Dean
Dr Laura Dean - Nominee for BPS President-Elect

Laura's nominee statement

Question 1

The President of the BPS acts as champion and ambassador for the society, the discipline of psychology and for the wider psychological profession. How has your career and experience to date prepared you for this distinguished role?

In my capacity as a lecturer in occupational psychology at the University of Sheffield, I have dedicated my career to advancing the field of psychology. My commitment is not only reflected in my contributions to academic understanding but also in my active engagement in leadership roles. 

Serving as the Director of academic integrity, academic lead in teaching excellence, and programme director for the MSc Occupational Psychology, I have acquired a diverse skill set that uniquely qualifies me to serve as the President of the BPS.

Beyond my academic roles, I have actively served as an ambassador for both the course and the university. In my capacity as a programme director, I have represented our programme to employers, establishing strong connections and ensuring the relevance of our curriculum to industry needs. Moreover, I have had the privilege of representing the university when visiting other academic institutions, fostering collaborations and promoting the reputation of the University of Sheffield.

These experiences have not only honed my ability to communicate complex psychological concepts effectively to diverse audiences but have also provided me with a practical understanding of the broader impact of psychology in various professional settings.

As a result, I am well-prepared to bring this ambassadorial experience to the role of President, representing and advocating for the BPS as a champion and ambassador for the society, the broader discipline of psychology, and the wider psychological profession.

Question 2

The BPS’s vision is to promote inclusivity and diversity. How do you see this as impacting the society’s work?

The BPS's commitment to promoting inclusivity and diversity stands as both an ethical imperative and a strategic necessity for the advancement of our society's work. Ensuring a diverse cohort in psychology training and careers is crucial to asking the right questions and considering everyone's perspectives. I currently actively contribute to this vision by teaching diversity issues to both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Through these educational initiatives, I aim to instil a profound understanding of the business benefits as well as the ethical reasons for inclusivity and diversity, especially concerning selection and assessment practices. This is vital as these students have the power to influence diversity in other organisations when they graduate.

My dedication to fostering inclusivity extends beyond the classroom. Upon completing my doctorate, which focused on the experiences of autistic students in higher education, I proactively disseminated the findings, not only within the university but also to employers.

This ensures that they are equipped with the knowledge to implement meaningful changes, bridging the gap between research and practical application of diversity principles.

As President of the BPS, I envision leveraging these experiences to drive impactful initiatives aligned with the society's commitment to inclusivity and diversity. Through the promotion of education, awareness, and practical strategies, I aim to position the BPS as a leader in championing diversity within the discipline and the broader psychological profession.

The popularity of psychology as the third most chosen A level underscores the substantial number of students entering psychology at the undergraduate level. With nearly five per cent of undergraduates pursuing psychology degrees, a significant cohort of psychology graduates enters the workforce annually. I believe it is imperative to address existing challenges, where desirable chartered roles may require minimum-wage or volunteering positions for experience. 

I advocate for an inclusive environment where these roles are genuinely open to everyone, regardless of socio-economic backgrounds. Collaborating with employers, educational institutions, and policymakers, we can shape a landscape were the pursuit of chartered status in psychology aligns with inclusive opportunities, ensuring that every student has the chance to thrive in their chosen career path.

Question 3

The BPS aims to create a vibrant member-centred community with a meaningful membership identity. What do you see as the President’s role in this?

The President plays a crucial and multifaceted role in shaping the identity and fostering a sense of community within the BPS. Drawing from my leadership roles in academia and the public sector, I deeply understand the importance of creating an environment where members not only feel valued and connected but also have the freedom to shape their own engagement within the society.

I recognise that membership is just one facet of individuals' identities and lives, acknowledging that not everyone desires or has the capacity for active involvement. However, for those seeking a deeper connection, I am committed to providing the necessary support and avenues for increased participation.

This includes understanding their diverse needs and aspirations, ensuring that the BPS accommodates various levels of engagement to suit each member's preferences.

Acknowledging that the journey towards a vibrant community and meaningful membership identity begins when individuals join as students, I emphasise the importance of early engagement. To achieve this, I propose an active presence on campuses, facilitating open dialogue through events and forums, and providing students with BPS merchandise, creating a tangible link to the society from the outset. Moreover, I envision empowering members to brand themselves within their professional networks by offering personalised features, such as LinkedIn tags, to amplify their association with the BPS.

I recognise that building a thriving community requires a nuanced and sustained effort. There is no quick fix, and true engagement stems from understanding the unique composition of our membership. To this end, I emphasise the importance of listening to our members at a granular level, avoiding assumptions of homogeneity. 

By conducting surveys, focus groups, and actively seeking feedback, we can tailor our initiatives to cater to the diverse needs and perspectives within our membership, ensuring that the BPS community is truly reflective of the richness of our discipline.

Question 4

The President-Elect is an integral member of our Board of Trustees, which is the overall governing body of the society. Please outline any leadership, organisational and/or governance experience that would help you carry out this role.

My extensive leadership experience, including roles as Director of Academic Integrity, Academic Lead in Teaching Excellence, and Programme Director for the MSc Occupational Psychology at the University of Sheffield, has equipped me with the necessary skills for the governance responsibilities associated with the role of President-Elect. Additionally, my tenure as Head of Employability at Leeds Beckett University provided me with a broader perspective on organisational dynamics. I am well-versed in strategic decision-making, policy development, and ensuring effective governance structures. 

This experience positions me as a capable and dedicated individual to contribute effectively as a member of the Board of Trustees and I understand the importance of meticulous governance to safeguard the society's integrity. 

In my capacity as Head of Employability, I have actively contributed to setting strategic direction and defining goals, aligning educational programmes with overarching objectives. This experience developed my skills in policy formulation and goal-setting, important work of the Board of Trustees.

Furthermore, my roles have involved active collaboration with the Senior Leadership Team, ensuring the effective delivery of academic strategies and operational plans. This experience extends to budgetary considerations, where I have been actively involved in allocating resources judiciously to achieve strategic objectives.

In my leadership roles, I have demonstrated a commitment to fostering positive working relationships and open communication. This includes listening sensitively to diverse perspectives and challenging constructively, when necessary: skills that align with the expectations outlined for the President-Elect role.

Recognising the importance of an active interest in the society's activities, I have a proven track record of engaging with students, colleagues, and external stakeholders. This involvement extends beyond academic settings, where I have actively disseminated research findings to employers, demonstrating a commitment to the broader impact of psychological research.

In summary, my extensive experience in leadership roles, coupled with a demonstrated commitment to ethical governance and strategic leadership, positions me as a candidate well-equipped to fulfil the responsibilities of the President-Elect role. I am ready to contribute actively to the Board of Trustees, ensuring the society's compliance, strategic direction, and long-term sustainability.

Proposer statements

Professor Carolyn Axtell

How long have you known the candidate?

More than 10 years.

When have you worked with the candidate or come into contact with them?

I have worked with Dr Dean for more than 10 years at Sheffield University Management School. I have experienced her leadership ability when teaching on the MSc in Occupational Psychology (that she directed), and in my role as Head of Subject Group, I

have also experienced her ability to represent the perspective of the BPS and psychology more generally when contributing to policy decisions in the department. In addition, as Dr Dean's reviewer, I have been made aware of the great work that she has done both internally and externally in relation to developing teaching excellence and innovation, championing inclusivity and

equality, as well as making and maintaining collaborative connections with industry and other institutions.

Why do you think the candidate would make a great President-Elect and President?

I feel that Dr Dean would make an excellent president/president-elect of the BPS. She has demonstrated great enthusiasm and commitment within her leadership roles and has a thorough understanding of the BPS and how it works. Dr Dean strives to make a

positive difference in every role she undertakes. She has transformed programmes, methods and processes so that they are more effective and fit for purpose. Whilst being guided by psychological theory and best practice, she

has an exceptional ability to put these ideas into action in a way that is both practical and achievable.

At departmental boards and committees I have observed that Dr Dean is willing to

constructively challenge the status quo in order to improve the experience for students and others where I work. In addition she is actively involved in EDI initiatives, such as Athena Swan and has worked with employers on their recruitment strategies to ensure those with autism are considered. Within teaching programmes she has also developed cohort building activities into early sessions to build a sense of community amongst the students.

I have no doubt that she would apply this expertise and skill to her role as BPS President, in order to enhance our experience as members.

Dr Dean is also very personable and approachable, so easily makes connections with others. With her teaching background, she is able to explain psychology concepts to others in a way that makes it easily understandable. This makes her a perfect ambassador for psychology, with an ability to engage with other disciplines, enabling them to understand the importance of the psychological perspective.

Sam Farley

How long have you known the candidate?

Six years.

When have you worked with the candidate or come into contact with them?

I work with Laura at the Institute of Work Psychology (University of Sheffield). She was the Programme Director of the MSc in Occupational Psychology before I took on this role.

Why do you think the candidate would make a great President-Elect and President?

Laura is an extremely experienced educator, who holds a number of skills necessary

to become President. She is organised, conscientious, and gets along well with people. She has high standards and genuinely cares about the BPS (as evidenced by her voluntary work for the organisation).