WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP MENTORSHIP PROGRAMME:
“BUILDING YOUR PERSONAL BRAND”
with Golda Lee Brooks
Patricia Ghany, AMCHAM T&T President
Good morning Ladies and gentlemen,
I am Patricia Ghany, President of AMCHAM T&T. It is indeed a great pleasure for me to welcome you to a special session on “Building Your Personal Brand” with our class from the 3rd AMCHAM T&T/IDB Women in Leadership Mentorship Programme.
I want to begin this morning by extending my sincere gratitude to the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) for their continued partnership with the Women in Leadership Mentorship Programme.
As everyone knows, this programme is very special to me because it allows us at AMCHAM T&T to walk-the-talk when it comes to promoting gender parity and ensuring women’s leadership in business – which happens to be one of the major pillars of our work at AMCHAM T&T.
Today’s session we are going to talk about the importance of building a personal brand. We chose this topic because we understood how vital it is for female professionals today to build a personal brand when they are looking to move up the corporate ladder in their related disciplines.
We know that there is a leadership gap when you compare the number of men versus women in positions of power and authority. We know that women are often overlooked for promotions and paid less than their male counterparts in certain industries. And we know that a woman’s gender is often used against her in many ways as she attempts to prove her ability and accomplishments.
We see this everyday in the workplace as women try to climb the ladder while juggling longstanding gender stereotypes that forces her to “stay in the box” and to “know her place.” It’s these outdated gender norms that creates this “likability conundrum” where women are expected to be “agreeable”, “warm” and “nurturing” or be penalized when they make a tough decision, share a strong opinion or even promote themselves which are often considered a violation of these gender norms.
Perhaps this is why so many studies often find women less likely to speak of their accomplishments or credit themselves for the success of their team. We often see women downplaying essential parts of themselves to fight off the criticism of being labelled “too aggressive”, or “ice-queen” or even the “b-word”. But when we do this, what is the image are we projecting to future employers and clients?
This is where personal branding comes into play!
They say you only get one chance to make a first impression. Today, I want to challenge each of you with the question: what first impression would you like to make on a work colleague, supervisor or potential future employer? What are the traits and qualities do you wish to be defined by?
We must realise that we, as women, have the power and control to define this narrative that the world places on us. When we do this, we are building our personal brand that communicates to the world who we are and how we want to be defined. Rather than subscribe to outdated gender norms, our personal brands should be built on our talents, skills and accomplishments while staying true to those many unique feminine traits that proudly defines who we are as women.
When you pay close attention to some of the greatest female leaders we have today, you would recognize that they each have a personal brand that goes beyond their professional titles. Think of German Chancellor, Angela Merkel – she is arguably the most powerful woman in the world today – but behind that power is a personal brand that communicates a meticulous, systematic, adaptive approach that has instilled trust and confidence in her citizens who have elected her to serve as the first female Chancellor of Germany for a fourth consecutive term in office.
Serena Williams is known as the greatest athlete in the world with a record 23 Grandslam titles but behind her many accomplishments is a personal brand that is all about how women can be equally “Strong, Sexy and Sophisticated” both on and off the court.
And then there is Oprah Winfrey who have built a self-made TWO-billion dollar empire on a personal brand about being honest, authentic, genuine and real with her audience and fans around the world.
So, what can we learn from these pioneers?
First, closing the gender gap in the workplace means we must support each other as women. When we support each other, it will help us to build our personal brands to show confidence, stability, empowerment and values that will widen our networks, highlight our achievements and ultimately help each other to accelerate our career growth.
These are just a few of the many great benefits of having a personal brand and it is why I believe companies should take the lead and encourage their female employees to develop and build their personal brands.
So often we hear about personal branding competing with the corporate brand. But this does not have to be case. When companies allow their employees to be their best authentic self in support of their careers, their team and the company, everyone wins. We know this to be true because of high employee retention rates and when the corporate brand produces hefty profit margins annually. So, companies should offer training and development programmes to assist their employees, particularly women, to realize their personal brand.
This is why the Women in Mentorship Leadership Programme is very important to us at AMCHAM T&T and it is why we are delighted to have Ms Golda Lee Bruce here with us today to help us build a personal brand that will put us on a path towards continued success in our careers and in life.
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