Students in the System: Umair Ali at The Chicago School

Umair Ali’s interest in workplace culture and his experience at The Chicago School have helped him progress from intern to leader on his team.

In just a couple of months, Umair Ali, an employee at TCS Education System, will have earned his second degree from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

It all started while Umair was earning his M.A. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology at The Chicago School in 2012. As part of the curriculum, he had to complete an internship, which resulted working as an Institutional Research intern at TCS Education System. After graduation, Umair was hired on full-time as a Research Analyst, then transitioned to Academic Records and Compliance in 2014.

Today, he serves as the Lead Academic Records and Compliance Specialist. Wanting to gain even more expertise, he is also working toward his doctorate from The Chicago School.

“After I finished my undergrad, where I earned my B.S. in Psychology, I looked at a few different routes in the field that I could go down. I discovered I really liked business psychology, which is why I went for my M.A. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology at TCSPP. Then I found I really liked consulting. So that was why I went for the Ph.D. in Business Psychology, Consulting Track.”

In completing his dissertation, Umair used his strong background at TCS to supplement his research. Wanting to blend his interest in workplace culture with business psychology, he decided to host “recess” during lunch hours, driving in from St. Louis, where he works remotely, to TCS’ Chicago office to host these sessions.

“I was looking at stress first and foremost, and then also mood, or how well people got along with their co-workers and how productive they felt,” Umair said. “The people who did participate reported that they had lower levels of stress and had better moods than the people who didn’t. They rated their productivity as higher and they also said that they got along with their co-workers better. But because I had such a small sample size, I don’t know if that was actually due to the recess or if it was just due to those specific people.”

While the results were inconclusive, he hopes to duplicate the study with another company and see what he finds. He also thinks it goes to show just how much the workplace can affect happiness.

“I think a lot of the things that TCS is doing, like moving into a new office with a lot of natural light … just the fact that I was able to do an adult recess for three months … they’re on the right path. And because workplace environments play such a big role in how people feel, it’s important for leadership to push for things like work-life balance and employee health.”