Organizational culture and leadership lecture

Last Thursday, April 3, Albion College students and faculty alike poured into the Norris Auditorium. They gathered at 7 p.m. to listen to a lecture hosted by the Gerstacker Institute and psychology department.

Together, these collegiate fixtures brought Benjamin Biermeier-Hanson to campus. Biermeier-Hanson, a doctoral candidate in Industrial-Organizational Psychology at Wayne State University, gave a lecture titled “Organizational Culture: Applying Research to Practice.”

Biermeier-Hanson is well-versed on this topic, especially considering his current position as a graduate intern at Denison Consulting in Ann Arbor.

The firm, which was founded in 1998 by Dr. Daniel Denison and William S. Neale, has ties to Albion College. Dr. Denison received bachelor’s degrees in psychology, sociology and anthropology from Albion.

During his presentation, Biermeier-Hanson explained the world of consulting. There are two types of consulting: internal and external. In internal consulting, clients are teams within your company. Examples of internal clients include Kellogg, Ford and Blue Cross Blue Shield. In external consulting, you must sell your expertise to clients. This is what Denison does.

Biermeier-Hanson gave some advice to potential consultants. An advanced degree is highly preferable. In addition, initial experience through internships is valuable. Finally, he noted that networking is critical to a job search. Biermeier-Hanson likened it to simply making friends and that you never know when a connection could come in handy.

Katie Zinkel, Birmingham first-year, appreciated Biermeier-Hanson’s advice. She was especially impressed by Denison’s global reach.

“The most interesting thing about the presentation was hearing that a huge company like BP came to Denison Consulting and used their services,” Zinkel said.  “That showed how important the firm’s work is and how much impact they have.”

For students considering a job at Denison or similar firm, there are several different roles. In an administration position, you are responsible for invoicing, billing and financial planning. As a client management expert you would oversee projects and clients. This position is perhaps most vital for business. Yet another position available in a firm like Denison is an IT employee. They check on data security and project maintenance.

Biermeier-Hanson went on to describe the Denison Leadership Model and how it examines a company’s culture.

“I learned that culture causes performance and understanding that will be very helpful if I am in a position where I oversee other employees,” Zinkel said.

The model measures how company leaders create context and culture for their employees. Biermeier-Hanson quoted R. Klimoski, who said, “Leaders are simultaneously pawns and kings of context.” While leaders have the power to shape culture, they are shaped by it in turn.

Photo via

This story, originally posted April 7, was updated April 8 to correct the lecturer’s name to “Biermeier-Hanson.”

About Emma Planet 18 Articles
Emma is a first-year at Albion College from Sterling Heights, Michigan. She is pursuing a double-major in English and Environmental Studies as well as a pre-law concentration. She uses her writing to raise awareness about environmental issues and adores pretzels paired with junior mints. Add her on Twitter: @PlanetEmma29

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