MUMBAI: When NithyaBalasubramanian joined Cipla four years ago, she found a mentor who helped her in understanding why it’s important to build a personal brand.
Being a quick learner, Balasubramanian, who is VP (respiratory marketing), began to regularly participate in industry forums. She spoke on subjects that were relevant to Cipla, while she projected herself as a thought leader. “It’s very easy to get typecast in a certain role/area in an organisation. My mentor taught me how a person can earn the respect and become a thought leader by building her brand. I now mentor other managers at the company in a similar manner,” said Balasubramanian, who believes personal branding is important to get access to the best opportunities and it ensures that one’s work gets adequately recognised — which is otherwise an issue for women managers in general.
Personal branding is about managing your reputation across various touch points through a carefully formulated strategy. It’s about how a person wants his or her brand to be recalled. While there are several companies investing in women leadership development, some are laying greater emphasis on helping them develop their personal branding. Prabir Jha, global chief people officer, Cipla, said, “Indeed companies are trying to help women at different levels to work on enhancing both their personal brand and effectiveness, to help have a richer and more diverse bench strength. Coaching, enhanced senior management visibility, opportunity to be part of high-impact projects, speaking at external forums are all part of this effort, beyond classical classroom inputs.”
As part of its leadership development agenda, Cipla puts in focused efforts to enhance women leadership down the line. Jha said personal brand has become very key to careers. Like Nithya, many women leaders at Cipla are role modelling this at every level, including the board and the management council.
At Mahindra Group, too, employees are taught to create distinctive identities by leveraging their expertise. Prince Augustin, EVP (group human capital & leadership development), Mahindra & Mahindra, describes this as pushing managers to “create an aura around themselves”. “Under the women leadership programme, where there is internal as well as external intervention, budding women leaders are taught how to build their unique personal brands. We ask them to look for personal innovation in themselves. External women leaders are invited to share their experiences with these women managers to elaborate on why it’s important to build your personal brand,” said Augustin.
The concept is said to be working reasonably well at Mahindras, given the initial outcome of a higher engagement and connect that these managers have with their teams. “In six months, we will be able to see this transform into behavioural changes. A transformation is expected to take place in two-three years,” said Augustin. Sujaya Banerjee, CEO, Capstone People Consulting, said, “A personal brand is your own distinctive promise of value and constitutes the adjectives people would normally use to describe the brand ‘You’. A positive personal brand is built through the positive reputation one creates through various touch points, starting from a powerful personal introduction, to traces left through interactions with stakeholders.”