Last night I spoke at Griffith University’s “Leadership Engaging Diversity” event on Women and Confidence. I had such a great evening and wanted to share one of the stories I told.
Through years of working in an industry under-represented by females, I’ve encountered many situations where people (men and women) have made assumptions about me based on my gender and age. There’s been times where I’ve had my confidence shut down at work, forcing me to choose between becoming disheartened and overcoming the challenges to grow stronger.
Actioning the latter was not easy and in this post I’d like to share why this was a turning point in my life and how developing my Personal Brand helped me become confident and fast-track my career.
I also know that I’m definitely not alone in this- through my work at DCC* , I’m speaking to women across a range of industries every day, from graduate through to Senior Executive level, and many have experienced similar challenges.
Going back a number of years, I landed a position at an IT&T company as an Account Manager for Enterprise and Government clients. I’ll never forget starting that role confident and ready to take on the world, but it wasn’t long before that confidence was completely shut down. It had nothing to do with my ability or competency in the role because I was performing at a high standard; it was all about how I was treated by my peers.
All of my colleagues were middle-aged males and whilst they were my peers, they would ask me to get them stationary, coffees and take their notes. Essentially I was treated as their assistant.
It wasn’t until one day in a meeting where there were about 12 of us, all men and myself, and I was asked to take the minutes for the meeting. Something inside of me made me push back and I politely said “I’ve got a lot I’d like to contribute to the meeting, would you mind if someone else takes the minutes?”
It was completely fine! Another male raised his hand straight away and said, “No worries at all Gemma, I’d be happy to take the minutes”.
That was a defining moment for me. I realized that these men weren’t acting like that towards me because they didn’t value me, their actions were completely unconscious. I knew at that point to be successful I had to start valuing myself more, being confident, speaking up and pushing back when appropriate. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was about to start cultivating my Personal Brand.
So what is a Personal Brand? A Personal Brand is who you are and how others, whether that be managers, clients, colleagues or subordinates, perceive you. When I started developing my Personal Brand, I went through an initial process of mapping out my values and beliefs, and defining where I wanted to take my career.
There are many components of developing a Personal Brand, some of which include:
- Knowing your worth and your values
- Developing an online presence- via channels such as LinkedIn, Twitter and internal company social networks
- Networking, volunteering and joining relevant Industry Associations
- Associating with other strong brands
Developing confidence and Personal Branding are critical to career success and both are among the top 10 topics that are often requested by the DCC* community.
To help with this, we have developed a free workbook and guide to help you identify and develop your brand. If you are interested in a copy of the workbook, please click here.
“Personal Branding for your career success” is also the topic for DCC’s* first “Better Ways of Working” Meetups in Brisbane on the 2nd December and Melbourne on the 9th December.
These meetups are aimed to connect women who are at any stage of their career to share experiences, success stories and ways we can support each other. In December I’ll be sharing my practical tips on developing a great Personal Brand and workshopping some ideas with the group.
Here’s a little something that really resonates with me:
“Any time you sincerely want to make a change, the first thing you should do is raise your standards. What really changed my life is the change I demanded of myself. I wrote down all the things I would no longer accept in my life. All the things I would no longer tolerate. And all the things I aspired to becoming.” Anthony Robbins.
*This article references Diversity City Careers or DCC. This is what WORK180 was known as when we first launched back in 2015. You can find out more about our story here.