Q&A with Yon Na
California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University
PhD in Organizational Psychology, Bay Area campus
Organizational Effectiveness Consultant, Coach and Researcher at Yon Na Consulting, LLC
Q: How did your Alliant experience contribute to your career growth?
A: My experience with Alliant as a doctoral student significantly contributed to my growth as a practitioner and researcher. The combination of theory and practice in organization development, leadership and team development, and consulting practice prepared me to transition from HR to the field of organizational effectiveness and leadership development. In addition, the support from my dissertation committee and connections with colleagues helped me to fine-tune my ability to co-create knowledge and collaborate effectively in my corporate career. Now, as an organizational consultant, coach, and researcher, I can apply my doctoral training to conducting organizational assessments, developing research-based solutions, and providing advisory support to C-level executives to enhance the effectiveness of themselves and their teams. The biggest takeaway for me was building my critical thinking skills.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your work?
A: After leaving a 20+ year career in corporate America to establish my consultancy, I enjoy the freedom and flexibility to work with diverse clients while continuing to research the concepts of identity and leadership. As an independent practitioner, I have the flexibility to work on my own on a project or pull other consultants into bigger efforts. This gives me a sense of independence and community at the same time.
I love that I can blend my organizational psychology training and leading Fortune 100 companies to help clients enhance effectiveness. My work encompasses: organizational effectiveness consulting and executive coaching; research; and leadership development for women of Asian descent.
Q: What inspires you to make a positive difference in the world?
A: Since 1992, I have had three distinct careers: finance, advertising, and organizational effectiveness. The first two careers helped me realize that I did not want to contribute to the "bottom line" of a company through revenue identification or generation but by developing its people and their potential. I realize this work is never-ending. And each year, I become clearer on ways to support organizations to become healthier and more inclusive. Ultimately, the learner mindset did not end with my receiving my doctorate. I continue to learn through research and by pursuing various certifications to enhance my skills as a practitioner. It's a continuous cycle of working with clients, researching new concepts and skills, and applying my learning to my work with clients.
Q: People are motivated by taking on certain types of challenges in their jobs. What do you do in your job and what challenges do you tackle that you find fulfilling?
A: Whether consulting on an organizational culture issue, DEI strategy and implementation, or creating a learning event, I am motivated by identifying a problem, seeking out research to create an "intervention" and implementing the solution. I love the challenge of piecing together complex information and creating an easy-to-understand message for the intended audience.
Q: For people who don’t know what someone in your position does, could you describe your main job responsibilities or describe a typical project? What would people see you doing and for whom does your work make a difference?
A: I explain to people that I help organizations, leaders, and teams enhance performance by applying organizational psychology principles. I'm like a work "doctor" who identifies the pain point and finds a method to address the pain. My approach is to partner with clients by leveraging research and assessments to design customized solutions such as leadership offsites, team goal alignment sessions, individual coaching, and learning programs.
Q: What is your advice for current students?
A: Be patient with yourself. You're on a lifelong journey of learning and growing. When you graduate, that is just the beginning of your growth as a practitioner. Also, be persistent. Whether it's sticking it out through your program or looking for the next job. Persistence pays. All of the meaningful things in life take time so take it slowly and think critically so you can be methodical about your choices in life.