Strengthen your reputation and drive career success by maintaining the integrity of your personal brand. An interview with Nancy Pearson
Shaku Selvakumar 060001XT47 firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  bpm success ibmimpact websphere leadership smartwork personal_branding career bizagility
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We sat with Nancy Pearson, IBM Vice President of Global Marketing for BPM, SOA and WebSphere, after her recent participation in a panel discussion on October 8 at the Forrester Business Process and Application Delivery Forum.
The session entitled, “Spotlight on Managing Personal Brand and Driving Career Success: For Women by Women” was hosted by Forrester Analyst Connie Moore.
A personal brand can be deliberate or it can be defined by your results and reputation through interactions. The reality is that your personal brand is a combination of both. To drive career success, you should find out what your brand is through the reflection of others.
You should also decide what you want to stand for. Are you a results oriented leader? The team player that drives innovation? Do you create positive interactions? Are you seen as a leader and "consultant"?
Success in a career is based on results, teamwork, innovation and passion for the business and customers. How well do you deliver on that and what do you need to do to improve your brand?
Creating and nurturing your brand is an ongoing evolution and maturation. Understanding derailment factors related to your brand have to be addressed as well.
That’s an interesting term-- derailment factors. Can you talk about common derailment factors for women and approaches to avoid them?
For women, they need to manage and learn how to not be seen as overly emotional, have a clear and strong communication style, and be seen as decisive and confident. It also helps to have client insight and a strong business perspective. Realize that your span of influence and leadership is an important growth factor.
Be sure that you know how you’re communicating and that you don't fall into any of these pitfalls. Things to avoid – extremes such as appearing overly confident or too meek; engaging in workplace gossip; and whining--it’s a poor and ineffective communications style.
What defines your personal brand and how has that enhanced your career?
My personal brand was built over many years... The characteristics I focused on early on were to learn fast, exceed expectations and work quickly. This combination resulted in fast movement.
I knew I wanted to increase results significantly, innovate and leave behind a foundation for success.
As I grew in my career, I added key elements to my brand and reinforced the results & innovation focus. Teamwork, deep skills in marketing, best practices and marketing models were what I created. My brand then started to signify “team player, delivers results, innovates, expert.”
Then I added “leadership, integrity and advocate for women and mentoring” to help others achieve their career success. This focus has enabled me to become an IBM Vice President and lead up to 300 marketing professionals.
I've had to build the credibility and earn the trust to do that with careful attention to my brand over the years.
How does one’s personal brand need to adapt at different stages of one’s career?
There has to be consistent values that you focus on in your brand.... “teamwork, leadership results, integrity, advocate for women, marketing expert and innovator” are a few that I have focused on.
These have to built and sustained and you have to deliver experiences, interactions and output that helps you to stand out.
Over the years as you grow you need to evolve your brand & style and leadership. Often people hit key transition points in their career when they are looking to get to the next level or understand what experiences they need to grow in their level. What I encourage them to do is to first understand what they want... what role, experience, where they want to be in 5 years/10 years etc. First you need to be clear on that.
Then, be able to get informal feedback on what it takes to attain those experiences. What does it mean to go from one level to the next. How do expectations change for your performance? What is your brand---- is it propelling you forward or holding you back?
Many people don't even know. When a person is being evaluated for a new experience or a promotion, their results, projects and experiences are all evaluated, including performance and style.
Often times, after someone describes that person's accomplishments there is a slight pause where I wait to hear the "but” --- meaning the thing that often stands in their way. For example, she's a great deliverer, very smart and experienced BUT....she is not a team player. That information is a gift if it's shared with you.
Find out what your "but" is and do something about it.
During your career did you notice that men and women approach personal brands in different ways?
I think the idea of having a personal brand and being deliberate about it is a new way of thinking. For years, I've had conversations with both men and women about their reputation and what they stand for... not always using the "brand" terminology. In IBM, more women talk about their brand. To help other women, I've created a career module that defines how you "take back control of your career" and as part of that, I talk about brand and other key elements.
The approach applies to both men and women but it’s my observation that more women think about how they are being perceived then men. Men seem to worry more about why they are not getting ahead and women seem to work more deliberately on how to get ahead.
Is there a piece of advice that one of your mentors or managers gave you that stuck with you throughout the years?
Yes, in fact, in my first Director job, the General Manager pulled me aside one day and said “Nancy, I want you to realize that your office and your team is a reflection of you....whomever you have sitting in your office, your leadership team, the people you hire---make sure they match your value system as they are all a reflection on you as an executive and as a leader.”
That comment really stuck with me throughout the years, and I think back on that when I look to staff new members on my team – and I realize not only am I interviewing this person, they are interviewing me and my organization in return.
Thank you for taking the time and sharing your views on personal branding. To connect with Nancy Pearson, follow her on Twitter @nancy_pearson
Listen and interact with Nancy Pearson and Peter Fingar, leading strategist and author by registering for the InformationWeek videocast titled “Business Agility: What CEOs Demand From Their CIOs” on October 14 at Noon eastern.
Click here to register
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