"Take any social problem we have, and a good crew of occupational psychologists could improve things out of recognition," says Professor Alexander Wedderburn.
His claim is based on his profession's ability to spot mistakes by casting a fresh, objective eye over any problem.
"An outsider going into a workplace will notice dozens of things that could be done better," he continues. "Insiders go blind or resigned to stupid situations."
Professor Wedderburn, 68, is president of the British Psychological Society. He is also professor emeritus at the School of Management at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, where he taught for 32 years. Much of his research has focused on shiftwork and working hours, subjects on which he is an internationally renowned authority.
"After my degree in psychology, I went into the heavy manufacturing industry for four years, where I developed an intense respect for practical managers and supervisors who made systems work efficiently and happily," he says.
"I went back to university to fill this out with research and study, and became one of the early self-taught occupational psychologists."
He believes those entering his profession need "enor-mous confidence to sell their ideas and a combination of charm and business focus to see things through. It's a highly competitive marketplace, and plenty of other specialists are happy to tackle the same problems."
Beverly Alimo-Metcalfe, 52, is professor of leadership at Leeds University. She is known for developing an "inclusive" leadership model, in contrast to traditional images. She is also chief executive of Leadership Research & Development, with cli-ents such as the Metropolitan Police.
"I'm driven by frustration at organisations' lack of understanding of the importance of how, and whom, they select and promote as leaders."
Dr Mary Dalgleish, 52, is head of occupational psychology at the Department for Work and Pensions. More than 100 psychologists are employed by the department, helping job seekers with disabilities or health problems back into work.
"It's a creative job which can make a real difference to the quality of people's working lives."
Emily Hutchinson, 33, is human performance adviser for the power company BNFL Magnox Generation, responsible for its anti-stress policy and for advising on staff levels in control rooms and on health and safety policies. She is currently researching human error and attention failures at the University of East London.
"Applying psychology to real-world situations is what it's all about."
Binna Kandola, 47, is senior partner and co-founder of Pearn Kandola, a consultancy specialising in management development, assessment and diversity; its clients have included BP, Ford, Nike and Accenture. He has written several books, including Managing the Mosaic: Diversity in Action.
"Applying the science of psychology to organisational problems in order to produce pragmatic solutions remains the challenge. …