Creating a Global Approach to Leadership Development

Though she’s a relative newcomer to the world of industrial-organizational psychology, it’s safe to say Ashley Aguilar (B.S. PSYC ’21, M.S. IPSY ’23) has already made a name for herself as a leadership expert.

As an associate manager of global leadership development at S. C. Johnson since April 2023, Aguilar and her team have created a customized tool called Global Leadership 360 that plays a key role—and is now the company’s new standard—in assessing and developing the leadership skills in employees throughout the company.

“Our goal was to ensure that all employees, regardless of their position, had the opportunity to receive feedback to enhance their leadership capabilities,” says Aguilar. “Drawing on my expertise in assessment building, I contributed to the creation of the 360 items and helped evaluate the overall validity of the assessment.”

Aguilar also conducted subject matter expert (SME) surveys and presented them to senior stakeholders at S. C. Johnson in order to garner as much support as possible within the organization for the new tool. The challenge of finding science-based and research-driven solutions while creating tools, such as Global Leadership 360, were what initially drew Aguilar to Illinois Tech’s I/O psychology program.

“I not only learned how to interpret research, but also how to conduct it, which equipped me to lead the development of the Global Leadership 360 project,” says Aguilar. “Additionally, the I/O psychology program provided ample opportunities for presentations, whether through facilitation or group discussions, which boosted my confidence in presenting advanced topics to senior stakeholders.”

Before beginning her career, Aguilar held internships at General Motors and Hedwig Dances, which helped her refine her skills as an I/O psychologist. She also participated in Procter & Gamble’s 2022 I/O Business Challenge, where she competed against fellow I/O psychology graduate students from around the country by using her expertise to identify real-world problems, create solutions, and pitch those solutions to senior leaders at Procter & Gamble.

“Not only did I build lasting friendships, but I also had numerous enriching experiences, including contract work conducting assessments and traveling to Proctor & Gamble headquarters as a participant in the annual I/O Business Challenge,” says Aguilar. “These experiences helped me broaden my professional network and knowledge.”

Aguilar was confident that she would be able to make an impact on the industry from day one with the cutting-edge research methods and quantitative skills that she developed at Illinois Tech.

“I knew possessing these skills were valuable in today’s competitive job market, especially in corporate environments, and would set me apart from others,” says Aguilar. “The diverse backgrounds of Illinois Tech’s faculty provided a wealth of knowledge in both industrial and organizational topics, and Illinois Tech’s extensive alumni network offered valuable connections.”