This week Polycom welcomed guests from all over Silicon Valley at a Fountain Blue When She Speaks panel event. The theme of the night was “Building and reinforcing your executive brand.” Panelists included Nokia’s Vice President of Marketing, Brand and Strategy Amy Friel; HP’s Vice President of Business Development Barbara Adey; Dell’s Cloud Client-Computing Senior Director of North America Field and Channel Marketing Margaret Hughes; and myself. We were also joined by Fountain Blue Founder and CEO Linda Holroyd.
Our main topic of the night was personal branding, how to maintain and build a personal brand and how that brand differs from the corporate brand. What many don’t realize is that a personal brand is composed of many components from something obvious such as the value you bring to your work and others to how you present yourself in person to something as small as your business card or email address and its domain. For example, my husband still uses an AOL email address. He likes to think of himself as a renaissance man who only checks his email once a week; this is part of his personal brand.
Your personal brand is who you are; it tells others what you have to offer them in various situations. During our discussion of personal versus corporate branding, HP’s Barbara Adey had this to say: “Your corporate brand (as opposed to a personal brand) is who you are; we are all the brand that we live and you take your brand with you in everything you do.” Barbara then went on to compare her personal brand with the corporate brand of Hewlett-Packard, “In a corporate environment everyone’s individual brand is different, but we share a corporate brand. My personal brand matches HP’s. Like HP’s brand, mine is courageous, high intensity and high integrity.” It is important to associate yourself with a corporate brand you believe in, one that you can identify with that integrates into your personal brand easily.
We each discussed the path that led us to our current executive positions and personal brand. I was one of the first two women to work as a ramp serviceman, loading baggage, servicing aircraft at United Airlines after World War II and later went to law school to become a lawyer. These experiences eventually led me to a career in human resources and to Polycom. From our personal and professional experiences, the women who spoke at this event each began to understand and articulate a brand, with the intent to become more effective at what each wanted to become, what each wanted to achieve. The road was rocky at best, but resilience and perseverance were a hallmark of strength for each of our panelists. Like myself, these women model how we can each remain consciously authentic to our brand, while also remaining in alignment with the goals of our company and our team.
Thank you to my fellow panelists Amy, Barbara and Margaret; to Linda for creating such a strong organization allowing women to speak their minds and share their stories; and to our guests both from Polycom and around the Silicon Valley.
So whether you stumble into your brand by consistently being who you are, or consciously shift your brand as you move from one place/position/role/company to another, be sure to make stretch goals for yourself and those around you and authentically pursue those goals, accepting that fear is a given, and failure sets you up for the next success. Be true to yourself and your brand, hold onto your values and remember that When She Speaks powerful things can happen.