Director of Inclusion and Diversity, McMaster-Carr Supply Company
Master of Applied Positive Psychology, University of Pennsylvania ‘19
Master of Business Administration, New York University ‘15
Bachelor of Arts in English, Harvard University ‘06
When Christina Cheuk (MAPP ‘19) applied for the Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at Penn, she didn’t know that her year of study would coincide with a long-distance move and a newly created position as Director of Inclusion and Diversity at McMaster-Carr. “It was an intensive year,” she laughs, “but MAPP just sort of hugs you. What I was learning was a support system in and of itself, because positive psychology applies to your personal well-being as well as your professional well-being.”
Prior to her year of transitions, Christina had taken on the role of Finance Director at McMaster-Carr and was looking into executive education opportunities to develop her knowledge of leadership and organizational structure. “I was regularly participating in conversations about how we are developing our teams, from individual contributors and departments all the way through every member of our management team up to the director level,” she explains. Her interest in how good leadership and structure look to individuals in an organization drew her to positive psychology instead, she says: “Whether I’m thinking about the way we structure our departments or coaching someone who directly reports to me, or thinking about flourishing for an individual or hundreds and thousands of people, that’s when positive psychology speaks to me.” Shortly after Christina was accepted to MAPP, her demonstrated interest in people management led to her appointment as the company’s first Director of Inclusion and Diversity. “It was perfect, because if anything the MAPP program aligns even better to my current role,” she adds.
As a MAPP student, Christina says, she was floored by the caliber of her classmates and faculty, many of whom came from a broad range of professions: business, education, entertainment, law. “The students were so motivated to practice what they preach, and it was refreshing to see the many ways positive psychology could be applied,” she reflects. “One of the worries that you might have in the program is ‘how am I actually supposed to take what I'm learning and make it happen in my company?’ But here there are fifty people earnestly trying it out in their industries, and it sparked a lot of ideas.” In her new role, Christina was able to put many of those ideas to work right away. For example, she teaches workshops on active constructive responding, a listening technique that she also practices at home with her growing family. She has incorporated a strategy of appreciative inquiry into her company’s ongoing conversations about improving organizational culture and welcoming employees from diverse backgrounds. Christina includes space for meditation and self-care throughout corporate training sessions: “Inclusion and diversity affects people, and it’s hard not to get compassion fatigue,” she explains.
“MAPP is an investment in yourself,” concludes Christina. “It has tremendous personal value. But it is also an investment in a way of thinking: What is going right? How can we continue to strengthen that? What are we missing when we only identify problems?”