What is your backstory?
I am a personal branding consultant for corporate professionals who want to increase their visibility and attract high-quality career opportunities and … I don’t have the typical corporate career.
I have a background in organizational psychology and communications, moved into employer branding, talent assessment, recruiting, and internal communications, and – went to the U.S for an expat assignment as a communications expert.
And, I built my career as an athlete on the side. I focused on mountaineering first and went on my first expedition with a team of friends at age 22 to Kyrgyzstan. Our team did 4 new ascents and we climbed numerous other multi-pitch/multi-day routes. Afterwards, I changed my focus to rock-climbing because training was easier to combine with studying at university and I took my skills to a professional level within the next 3 years. I travelled the world while climbing and while having a corporate job. I had the most supporting bosses allowing me to create my own schedule around work, training and travel.
When I decided to no longer pursue climbing at that intensity, I went all in with my corporate career.
But, my career didn’t follow the usual path. So, I had two problems:
- I didn’t want to start at entry level jobs again.
- I had to sell my experience I gained while climbing to a potential employer.
Therefore, I had to get crystal clear on my experience, results and benefits for a future employer and I had to use the art of storytelling in my resume, cover letter and in job interviews to sell my strengths and experience to their benefit.
I applied to 5 jobs, got 4 interview invites, got 2 job offers and negotiated a significantly higher salary than initially proposed.
I started my new job as a process management expert with the target to improve internal processes where necessary, a job not even related to my expertise, but was hired based on the trust in my skills to not give-up and bite through and therefore be able to do change projects. Once the worldwide financial crisis in 2008 hit the economy I quickly changed into internal communication advising top management on how to communicate the impact of the crisis on associates and changes related to it.
On the job, I understood how independently I had lived my life setting my own targets for my personal development. I realized, if I would depend on the people around me to support me in my career development that I would not be where I wanted to be in the time frame I had in mind and I would probably not make the career experiences I wanted to make.
I had to come up with a strategy to own my career development and to position myself as the go-to expert. I built a vast international network within the company that I worked for, was able to find 3 mentors that truly supported me, without being in an official mentor program, I built professional partnerships and expert networks and managed to be involved in strategic projects to be seen by upper management.
With time, I was seen as the expert others wanted to learn from and work with and I took on consulting other communication experts. I got more and more into the role of coaching top management on their personal branding and communication even beyond the site I worked for.
Without doing anything I got 4 job offers with one of them being an expat assignment.
I chose the expat assignment in the U.S. because it was in line with my desire to live and work abroad to deep-dive in a different culture and because I wanted to bring my English to a new level.
With all the struggles that I had experienced as a woman wanting to build a rewarding career, I never hesitated to pass on anything that had worked for me and started mentoring numerous women inside and outside my own organization and continued to do so while I built my first business.
I helped women connect with their story and define their value to an organization. Based on that, they were able to create their career branding materials like resume, cover letter and interview strategy.
On the job, I helped them position themselves as the expert in their field, build natural authority and leadership skills, connect with mentors and expand their professional connection base to attract high-quality career opportunities and build a rewarding career themselves.
While I built my personal branding intuitively with a lot of trial and error involved, I now pass on my experience as a personal branding consultant and mentor for corporate professionals attract high-quality career opportunities and build a rewarding career and life right from the start.
Can you tell me the story of your prior successes, challenges, and major responsibilities?
During my years in corporate, I mentored other corporate professionals in my free time. I helped them define their unique strengths, how to tell their unique story, and translate that into career branding materials like resume and cover letter, and interview strategies. All of them moved on to their desired role, which for all, was a new field and not the logic next step for their history of expertise. So, they had to tell their story about their qualities in even more clarity to land those jobs. All of them negotiated higher incomes than first proposed or got promoted.
Today, I am continuing the path of free mentoring in my role as a mentor for the Professional Women’s Network and also support their mentoring team as a volunteer.
As a Branding Consultant, I am especially proud of the women I have worked with recently, that use their maternity leave to build their personal brand on purpose. As uncommon it may sound, (because they choose to not participate in the corporate world for a while,) you can totally use your maternity leave to increase your visibility, expand your connection base and build your network on purpose, so new opportunities will open up for you now or in the future.
Even if they don’t want to change jobs at the time, by building their brand consistently their freedom of choices significantly increases, which for them goes along with the freedom to choose whichever is the best option with the highest flexibility, best match of responsibility and tasks, or other reward they are looking to achieve to live the life that is right for them.
Most of them are very driven women that want to build a family, but still want to realize a successful career and want to take their career development in their hands. They use their maternity leave to work on their personal development consistently and make the most of it. Some of them took on additional volunteer roles in networks for professional women to build on their leadership skills and even went into speaking. I am incredibly proud of these women as I know how unpredictable life can be when you care for a baby. These women are very inspiring to work with.
Others come to me to sharpen their leadership or expert branding. For those that change into a leadership role the first time, the transition involves a mindset change from being an associate to becoming a trusted leader. Those that work for larger companies may have gotten training on leadership skills, but not much guidance on leadership mindset, authority and trust building. The trap I see often for first-time leaders is that they still think and act like an associate and feel they have all the time in the world to get to know their job first and then move on to becoming that “leader”.
Truth is, your associate’s look at you from day one. So those questions, of “How do they want to be perceived?” “What kind of leader do they want to be?” “Which strengths can they build on?”, become relevant. We work a lot on building that mindset and awareness as to how they position themselves on a daily basis, communicate in clarity and inspire with vision and integrity. And, I continue what I did before and work with high-level leaders that want to build on their leadership branding in a subsequent or current role to inspire and motivate their associates by being approachable and trusted. They want to lead with vision, be able to communicate that vision in clarity, and help associates understand their contribution to the overall vision and success.
Often, that involves changes to their personal communication style and the communication means they use and this is exactly what we work on. Leading by the pressure of quarterly numbers disconnects many leaders from their associates and also themselves. The result is constant pushing of associates which feels empty and demotivating to them. People go the extra mile “with” someone if they feel an authentic connection, a genuine interest in them and their growth, and when they feel they can trust someone as a person.
Personal Branding helps many leaders to reconnect to their uniqueness and strengths and find that balance between determination and connection again and extend that in their communication. It shows them a way to lead with vision and inspired action and build on their authority at the same time. For many it helps them be happier in their role as a leader when/as they embrace that caring part of leadership we all thrive and gain so much from.
My family situation with two young children is highly challenging sometimes. Therefore, I have to set up my business in a highly flexible way with very lean processes and the courage to outsource very early on.
The unpredictability of my life forces me to live the entrepreneur mindset every day. I have to decide about what the most important step is for my business on a daily basis, sometimes hourly. And still, I make it happen, I think I had to reschedule only one client up until now.
The challenges I see for my clients are much more complex. A lot of them don’t know at first how much increasing their visibility will change their life and career to the better and how they can achieve their goals with greater ease, greater connection, and more fun. They ask themselves, why they should invest in a program that helps them increase their visibility because in the end they still have their income in their bank account even if they don’t take their personal development in their hands.
Branding is a long-term approach to career development and doesn’t always mean you want or need to change into a new position right away, but it is a strategy that will connect you to so many more people than you thought possible and you will open up opportunities over time, you couldn’t even imagine. The freedom of choices is what increases their happiness as they can choose which option fits their goals and lifestyle best.
For those that are looking to actively shape their leadership branding, connecting to what feels authentic to them often comes with a level of vulnerability that feels unprofessional or unwanted in the corporate world. But, it is just new territory that once they master it not only feels better to them, but brings better organizational results.
Major current responsibilities:
Personal branding consultant
Mentor and Volunteer for Professional Women’s Network
Speaker (first speaking engagement in October 2018, 2 more need to be finalized)
Can you tell me about a time when you almost gave up, how you felt about that, and what you did instead of giving up?
Building a business at the early stages felt like an emotional roller coaster for me with phases of extreme exhaustion, joy and happiness on the side. Getting through this phase of setting things up, all this behind the scenes work… I sometimes worked really late hours to find a way around family life and working around what felt like constant sick little children… it was a lot.
When I feel like giving up, the real reason mostly is my own exhaustion. I know that in the meantime. I hired help around the house, outsourced tasks around my business and try to get more help when my children are sick. And, I remember myself that nothing is as hard and physical painful as some of the routes I climbed. I take a break to get relief from my exhaustion, recenter my goals asking myself which action is really needed to achieve my next goal, reverse engineer what needs to be done, and move forward.
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