Profiles From the Field
Charles Scherbaum, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Baruch College
Charles wears many hats in his professional life, including teacher, researcher, and consultant. An Associate Professor at Baruch College, he teaches undergraduate, graduate and Executive masters courses in statistics, psychometrics, personnel psychology, and I/O psychology.
His research focuses on issues of diversity and selection systems, examining sources of bias within cognitive and standardized tests to assess adverse impact. He is investigating predictors of success to enable the development of alternative tests with less adverse impact, drawing on advances in analytical techniques and computer technology. He and his colleagues have found that alternative cognitive assessments can show equal predictive validity and dramatically cut the size of group differences. Charles currently has a grant from the Graduate Management Admission Council to examine how alternative predictors can be used to predict the success of MBA students.
Charles’ consulting entails leveraging research-based methods to establish human capital models that link employee engagement and corporate strategy. This includes providing the analytics that underscore the need for talent initiatives, outlining the costs of implementing and, more importantly, not implementing various HR initiatives.
When asked how his teaching and consulting inform each other, Charles indicated that his teaching helps his effectiveness as a consultant because he has become adept at thinking on his feet and explaining concepts in a way that people can readily understand them. Consulting contributes to his teaching by enabling him to give students contextual information about how they can leverage knowledge gained during graduate school to help organizations make good decisions. .
One of the biggest challenges Charles cites about his roles is the importance of staying current with new developments in the field, particularly in analytics and metrics. In his roles, Charles is both a producer and consumer of cutting edge knowledge. Reviewing the plethora of research and literature is critical for Charles to be able to identify trends across various disciplines and how they can be used to improve his research, teaching, and consulting.
During undergraduate studies at the University of Washington, Charles quickly took to his Psychology courses. While in a Social psychology class, he began conducting negotiation research and became interested in how psychological research could help organizations with the problems they face. He also completed an internship within the HR department at Prudential, which further heightened his fascination with how psychology concepts can help organizations succeed.
After college, Charles worked in staffing at Washington Mutual, which was going through transformations following a number of acquisitions. He was able to observe group dynamics, both positive and negative, further reinforcing his beliefs in how organizations could apply I/O Psychology concepts. This experience also enhanced his recognition of the importance of investing in employee development and engagement efforts.
Entering graduate school at Ohio University, Charles was not sure what he wanted to do afterwards. He knew he liked the challenge of devising novel solutions for business problems, utilizing the research, statistical, and consulting aspects of the field. He thought academic and external roles would be would all for this, so Charles was investigating academic and consulting jobs during his 4th year. A critical experience in helping shape his career came when he taught in Hong Kong for an extension program. This expanded his sensitivity to the ways in which cultures differ, causing him to recognize the importance of questioning the assumptions we make in the models, theories and solutions we devise.
After earning his doctorate, Charles was hired at Baruch College. He commends the strong mentoring from his colleagues and teaching in a high-caliper Ph.D. program as further expanding his views on issues with which he is presented
Charles shared several pieces of advice for current graduate students:
Take advantage of your time in graduate school to acquire the base of knowledge that will serve as the foundation for your success down the road. While internships can be beneficial, be sure to focus on learning baseline theories and research early in your graduate studies. You will never go back to do it later.
Improve your analytical skills, such as through statistics courses, because these skills are becoming more and more valuable as organizations are increasingly using data to make decisions.
Attend meetings for professional organizations, like METRO, and talk to colleagues to listen to how they approach issues they face. This will enable you to explore various ways to solve problems.
In addition, Charles emphasizes the importance of recognizing what truly differentiates yourself and presenting your expertise and skills with confidence.
Reported by: David Mahl