Building Your Brand

For January’s monthly meeting, we were glad to have Mr. Amit Gupta speak for us. Mr. Gupta got his MBA from Penn State before joining the workforce with companies such as DuPont, Celanese, and Owens Corning, where he now works. His immense experience allowed him to provide essential tips as well as a personal narrative on how to navigate through the corporate field.

Mr. Gupta began with his central point of building your brand. He noted that this brand doesn’t begin in the future, but now, starting in high school. This is the time that impressions begin to form of a person and these would then become defining characteristics that would be carried throughout the rest of their professional career. He recommended a book, You, Inc.: The Art of Selling Yourself by Harry Beck and Christine K. Clifford. He regarded it as a tool that would allow for optimal brand cultivation. Once a brand is built, or in the making, he cited seeking mentorship as a source that would allow for brand management.

In explaining how to be successful in a highly competitive field, he referred to many different components, mentorship playing into some of them. The impression left is what will provide you with a door of opportunity. He explained, “Don’t leave dead bodies behind.”, implying to finish all started projects and deliver results. A reputation of being able to get a job done will carry throughout your career, and these accomplishments in the past will build credibility for new opportunities. Likewise, if you build a reputation of leaving things unfinished, chances are, you wouldn’t be much competition to someone reliable. Keeping a laser focus as well as genuinely enjoying the work being done will facilitate the working process and allow for results to be delivered most efficiently.

When it comes time to switch companies or roles, and your employer is left satisfied you will have yourself a reference. Not only can previous employers be references but also the mentors you have accumulated during your career. Creating connections, too, allows you to widen your net of opportunities. LinkedIn, he said, was a fruitful platform to explore interests and discover like minded people. Like LinkedIn, he highlighted the importance of staying mindful of what is being posted on these social media platforms. While it is important to express yourself online, inappropriate online behavior can have severe consequences in the long run.

In such a high stakes environment, he noted the importance of understanding that sometimes projects, or jobs themselves, will not work out, and that it is okay to fail sometimes. This is where the brand management comes in: if a reliable brand has been developed, it creates a safety net for minor setbacks. These failures, as cliche as it sounds, will allow you to grow and learn from them. Growth, as he explained, comes from a combination of understanding your blindspots, asking questions, understanding the tasks you are given, and not pretending to know everything.

Working in a large company can be challenging at times solely due to the cultural diversity so it is important to understand that each person comes from a different background, and what may be considered polite in one culture may not seem polite to another. In these cases, it is important to clarify expectations so that everyone is on the same page. Even in general, laying a foundation of understanding as well as knowing when it is time to move to the next opportunity is key.