David Popple ’05
Dave Popple received his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Texas Woman’s University in 2004 and is currently owner of Psynet Group. Among his many responsibilities he continuously generates strategy for Psynet Group, builds and develops the Psynet online assessment platform, and coaches and inspires other Ph.D. level psychologists/consultants on the team. Popple also works with organizations to deliver Psynet’s services and products and serves as a trusted advisor to selected clients. He credits TWU with giving him a full scope of knowledge that often surpasses that of the Ivy League Ph.Ds. he encounters in his work. The greater scope of courses he had at TWU have been invaluable in the growth of his organization in the area of innovation. Popple said: “I encounter Ivy League PhDs all the time and they are not better educated than I was at TWU.”
What do you enjoy about your current position/profession?
As the owner and founder, I can set the direction of the company although do so in collaboration with our team. The autonomy to determine my own path is a big driver for me.
I am in the position to give others an interesting and fulfilling career in which they make a positive impact while growing personally and professionally. People who work for Psynet Group meet the most interesting people and get to travel the world.
Our work is complex and requires me to think through situations. Rarely does a cookie cutter approach provide the solutions.
How do you see your profession changing in the next 5 or 10 years?
I see more automation and innovation around assessments in the next five years. I think we are a half step ahead now but will need to apply more and more technology if we want to keep our lead.
I/O Psychology is being flooded with people who earned a master’s degree. However, the ability to manage the complexity in our field requires a deep understanding that comes either from education or experience and it will be hard for MA students bridge that gap unless they have many years of experience. As a result, we will likely have PhD trained psychologist who understand the whole picture supervising MA trained technicians.
I think psychologists will be the primary beneficiary of the wave of augmented intelligence because we integrate science and humanity more often than any other field.
What unexpected experience or event has shaped and/or influenced your current professional life?
I was recruited to be a consulting producer on a prime-time reality show on Fox in 2012 (Does Someone Have to Go). I learned a lot from the opportunity and maintain many of the relationships I made then.
In 2007 I was asked to run an acceleration pool (leadership development) for a fast-growing company in Brazil even though I had never been there. Now I speak Portuguese and have worked with 5 large Brazilian companies. We are currently negotiating a distribution deal in Brazil for Psybil, our assessment platform.
What is a professional highlight of your career, either where you currently work or in the past?
- Psybil our assessment platform is a game changer for us and our team. This required me to not only apply psychology and statistics but to learn how to build a software platform and communicate with programmers.
- I am proud of the fact that Psynet is allowing our consultants to make a good living doing what they love.
- We have created tangible differences for our clients that includes turning companies profitable that were on the verge of bankruptcy.
- I am proud that some of the most influential people, including leaders of Fortune 500 companies, trust my advice and rely on me as a trusted advisor.
What characteristics do you look for when hiring people into your workplace?
- Loyalty and drive are the most important characteristics for fitting into our culture. Our company is growing but not in a straight line so I need people who will stick with us no matter what the month or quarter looked like.
- I also need smart people because our clients expect us to be the smartest people in the room. unfortunately, PhD does not always mean that someone is brilliant.
- We need people who are agile. This means taking what they learned and adapting it to each new client.
- Humble — When I graduated, I was aware of the fact that I knew less than I thought I knew before I started my program. Some people when they graduate with a PhD think that they have learned everything they need to know. We hire people whose education made them aware of their knowledge gaps and who are eager to learn.
Why did you come to TWU?
When I was 20, I made a pact with myself to try and do as much good as I could for the next 20 years while I still had the energy and then do something fun. I learned by the time that I was in my late 20s that I was ill equipped to make the impact I desired. My studies started in Minnesota where I became fascinated by family psychology. At TWU, this fascination translated into an interest in human systems and cybernetics. Although I went to TWU to be better at helping people, I discovered that I could apply what I learned to organizations and when I turned 40, applied my education in a completely differently way.
What is your favorite TWU memory?
When my wife graduated. She works harder than anyone I ever met and seeing this part of her life come to a conclusion was inspiring.
Did a TWU professor inspire you? Who was that and how was that person inspirational?
Dr. Linda Rubin was my dissertation chair and was relentless in making sure my writing was professional. I became so frustrated with her that I bought a book on being a better writer, outlined it, and read the outline each time before I wrote. Now I have become almost as relentless and recently rewrote all the professional bios for one of my client’s web pages even though it is far from the scope of my work with them.
Dr. Basil Hamilton taught statistics, and what I learned from him set the base for me when I built the Psybil assessments. All our assessments were built the right way, which was also the hard way, based on what I learned in my statistics and research courses. Without these courses Psybil.io would never have existed.
Dr. Michal Ann Pepper was an adjunct who taught human systems. My company continues to apply the insights from that course, and I maintain current on the material that has been written and developed since then.
Has something about your TWU education surprised you since graduating?
I encounter Ivy League PhDs all the time and they are not better educated than I was at TWU. I found that TWU provided greater breadth in their courses than most other schools, which I believe is one of the reasons Psynet Group has excelled in innovation. My colleagues from these schools often excel in one area but lack skills in other areas. For example, they may understand personality psychology but not social science statistics or psychometrics. At TWU, I was taught hard skills like statistics and research methods and soft skills like social psychology and counseling techniques.
As a result, when I taught at the graduate school at Marist college soon after graduating, I was able to teach almost every course in their handbook. This was completely due to the breadth of education I received at TWU.
What advice do you have for college students hoping to succeed professionally?
Assume that your professors were wrong and learn to think for yourself. A good memory is no longer enough to be effective; professionals need to be able to think for themselves. You may find in the long run that most of what you learned at TWU was right but only by applying critical thought will the ideas become yours.
Do what you can to understand people. Organizations are built on operations, finance and talent. Operations and finance are practically a commodity as interest rates hover around 0 and much of operations is increasingly automated. The last source of growth and competitive advantage for any organization is their talent. Therefore, you need to know how to assess, manage and develop people to succeed.
What makes an effective leader?
- The ability to generate an effective strategic plan and solve the complex problems as they arise
- The energy and drive to get things done
- Wisdom to take risks and knowing the difference between a good decision and a good outcome.
- The ability to communicate and inspire others, often adjusting the message to meet the needs and style of the listener/follower
- The ability to influence others to see things from your point of view and buy into your ideas
- Agility — The courage to change course when the evidence suggests your team is going the wrong way
- Humility — Knowing at your core that you cannot make anything significant happen by yourself
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I am training for the NYC Marathon and spend some time on my boat in the Long Island Sound.
Page last updated 1:18 PM, July 26, 2022