Introducing two of our newest PhD Students, Fangjun Dong and Beth Corcoran

August 26, 2022 by Andy Vatiliotou

We're very happy to introduce the CIRHR community to Fangjun Dong and Beth Corcoran, our newest PhD students who will begin at the Centre this fall. We had the opportunity to ask Beth and Fangjun some questions about their primary goals, what drew them to the Centre, and the life experiences (books, activities, travel destinations, and mantras) that inspire them most. Check out our full interview with Beth and Fangjun below!

Fangjun Dong

Photo of PhD Student, Fangjun Dong

Strategy to decompress: Taking a walk in the city
Favourite travel destination: Banff national park
Favourite book: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
A mantra to live by: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” - Laozi

Born and raised in China, Fangjun completed her undergraduate degree with high distinction at the University of Toronto with a double major in employment relations and economics. A familiar presence at the Centre, she has already completed her master’s degree in Industrial Relations and Human Resources at the University of Toronto and looks forward to continuing her education in the PhD program. Her areas of interest include organizational behaviour, human resources management, labour economics, employment law, labour market policy and industrial/employment relations.

Beth Corcoran

Photo of PhD Student, Beth Corcoran

Strategy to decompress: Running
Favourite travel destination: Cape Town or Rome
Watching/streaming: Gaslit
Favourite book: The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields) 
A mantra to live by: "Become who you are." -Nietzsche

Beth Corcoran joins the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources with a keen interest in better understanding the conditions that allow individuals and groups to thrive in organizations. She is also interested in making research more accessible to practitioners working in the field of Human Resources and Organizational Development.

Beth has over 20 years of experience working as a practitioner in HR management and OD consulting across different industries and in global organizations. She has managed and developed programs in all facets of HR, led organizational change, and managed HR teams.

Her senior management experience as an HR leader gave her the opportunity to align HR programs and initiatives with business strategy. Her global HR experience has taken her to many North American cities and she has worked with stakeholders in Europe and Asia. She has also worked as a clinician and executive coach, and she has taught students at the post-secondary level.

Beth holds a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) from Queen's University, a Master of Arts (Psychology) from Adler University, and a CHRL designation. In addition, she attended Harvard Business School Executive Education, is an Adler International Institute trained coach, and is certified in The Birkman Method Assessment Tool. Her clinical training and experience in clinical/counselling and organizational psychology bring insight about people and their personalities to her work in organizations

What are your primary goals/aspirations for this next stage of your education/research?

FD: For the next stage of my education, I will focus on enhancing my analytical and methodological skills in the context of industrial relations and human resources.

BC: Building on my experience as a coach working with Directors, Vice-Presidents and the C-suite, I am curious about how CBT techniques can be an effective modality in executive coaching, helping leaders and employees alike understand how their thoughts and feelings impact their usual behaviour and stress behaviour. I would like to better understand how workplace well-being, and how reframing such as a business imperative, can impact worker and organizational success. Finally, I am keen to explore the importance of business ethics, individual purpose and organizational fairness on the attractiveness of work opportunities for Generation Z and Millennials.

Is there a certain subject your keen to learn more about/investigate further, and what draws you to this particular field of study?

FD: I have a broad interest in organizational behaviour, human resources management, labour economics, employment law, labour market policy and industrial/employment relations. In particular, I’m very interested in studying more about topics related to organizational behaviour. I was drawn to this field of study after taking an introductory course several years ago in which I learned some interesting cases and theories.

BC: My research interests are broad, and they build on my experience as a practitioner working in the private sector with small, medium and large sized organizations. Overall, I am curious about the conditions that allow individuals to thrive and realize their full potential at work. I am further interested in how organizations can foster psychological flexibility and psychological capital in organizations as a means to improve individual wellbeing. Other topics of interest include leader fairness and how such impacts organizational culture and psychological safety. I am also curious about how organizations can build and maintain psychological safety when workplaces are dispersed. I wonder about how personality intelligence can enhance the efficacy of manager-employee /leader-follower relationships. This builds on my interest to better understand how self-awareness and personality impact team dynamics, relationships and workplace success.

What drew you to the CIRHR?

FD: I had a pretty good learning experience at the CIRHR when I was taking courses for my undergraduate major in employment relations and the master’s program in IRHR. I enjoy studying topics in this field and I really like the atmosphere of CIRHR. Many articles and research work from the CIRHR faculty are also published in top journals and frequently cited by scholars in this field. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to meet many supportive and knowledgeable professors/instructors and classmates during my previous studies at CIRHR. I look forward to continuing my connection with the CIRHR and contributing my efforts in the future.

BC: There were many aspects of the CIRHR that were/are appealing to me. Its interdisciplinary focus was one very attractive attribute as it will allow me to learn from, and work with individuals who care about the world of work and see it from different perspectives. Additionally, the faculty at the Centre and their research interests were appealing along with the intimate size of the Centre.