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IACS Conference on ‘Personal Branding and Leadership’

October 2018
IACS Conference on ‘Personal Branding and Leadership’


(Left) Keynote speakers Kenneth Escoe, Sue Kolluru Barger, and Jana Kanyadan, with moderator Vishal Patell. (Photo: Paul Photocrafts)

The Indo American Community Services (IACS) hosted a professional development conference on the theme ‘Personal Branding and Leadership’ on August 18, 2018 at the Atlanta Marriott in Alpharetta, GA.

IACS is a national nonprofit organization that supports the community through diversity job fairs, women’s empowerment forums, professional leadership and business and entrepreneurial conferences; it organizes events in Chicago, New York, Atlanta, and Dallas. IACS also provides student internship opportunities both in public and private sectors as well as a free job portal, mentoring, and career counseling services.

Keynote speakers at the Atlanta conference included senior executives Kenneth Escoe, VP and GM, ITW Hi-Cone; Sue Kolluru Barger, Partner and MD, The Boston Consulting Group; and Jana Kanyadan, CIO, Mohawk Industries. They shared practical advice on why personal branding is important, what strategies to follow to build and reinvent your personal brand, how to discover your values and align them with that of the organization goals, and more importantly how to create a brand that will advance your career into the path of leadership.

Kenneth Escoe talked about how personal branding and leadership forms an important part of the business at ITW. The company is constantly focusing on diversity and inclusion. He pointed out that the journey of the people behind the brand is as important as the brand itself, and that brands are much more than a logo and more importantly, reflect the people who make those brands successful. The 3 strategies from his talk are to recognize that you already have a brand, understand the gaps and do things to drive your passions, and transition over time by incorporating people’s perception as this will proactively help shape yourself. Kenneth holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina A&T State University, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Sue Kolluru Barger echoed Kenneth’s views and said that your perception of your brand might be very different from the reality. Getting positive or even negative feedback from peers, customers, managers, and family is critical for reevaluating your brand. Sue also talked about 3 dimensions to develop a personal brand: assess the values of the company you work for, how you exemplify these values, and the important characteristics of your current role or the role that you are striving to get into, as these are the attributes that really make you unique and stand out in a crowd. Sue holds an electrical engineering degree from the University of Ottawa and an MBA from The Wharton School.

Jana Kanyadan talked about how going to a good school and getting the right education is a big investment in yourself, forming the foundation of who you are, and how this self-improvement provides a jumpstart to your personal brand. He pointed out that investing in yourself and communicating in a way others understand and in the right context is what makes people listen to you. Jana holds an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science from Iowa State University and an MBA from Duke University.

Vishal Patell, VP - Marketing and Customer Solutions, CHEP USA, moderated the panel discussion and the Q&A session. He holds a master’s degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Southern California and an MBA in International Business from the University of South Carolina.

The three speakers talked about how they evolved over the course of their career to incorporate others perceptions and views into their own brand, how companies can use personal branding to understand and strengthen teams of younger and new employees, whether women have to try harder to brand themselves, how to overcome stereotypes that stem from your background or ethnicity, etc.


The organizing team.

The conference organizing team included Lakshmi Nagamohan, Anu Sundaram, Kayal Ramesh, Katyayani Dave, Selvi Sankar, Sunita Davis, Paul Punyasamudram, Prema Rajan, Sree Kummarapurugu, Vidya Sukumaran, Sujatha Narayanan, and Anurag Sahay.


The conference attendees.

[The article above contains additional material not in the print and digital issues.]


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