Journey of Three - Katherine Martinez

Coming into the Personal Branding and Network for Leadership session, I was very excited at the opportunity to work on my brand and improve my networking skills. Speaking professionally about myself is something I struggle with from time to time. This can surprise people as I am generally not a shy person; I enjoy conversing with others and value relationships. My cultural background doesn't encourage self-branding, so the takeaways I learned from Colleen Fukui-Sketchley's session really helped me gain a better appreciation for branding and how it can help accelerate your career.

The morning began with Colleen facilitating an exercise with the group to assess each other's perceived strengths and attributes. This was a very interesting exercise as the environment was very open, honest and safe. When I volunteered to have the group assess me, I was glad to hear that they perceived my strengths to be driven, dynamic, confident, a thinker, and passionate. Hearing that from my peers reassured me that I displayed an authentic identity. What I enjoyed the most during this exercise was hearing my peers' assessments of each other; it was inspiring. When it comes to your brand, you are in control. If you don't display certain strengths and attributes that are apart of your brand today, it doesn't mean that you can't working on developing new strengths that enhance your future brand. 

Who you are, what drives you, and what you can contribute are key elements to your brand. However to elevate your brand, you need to be able to network effectively. The Q&A panel with the executive mentors really helped put context around the importance of branding and networking. Lorraine Yu shared a few examples that she had in career where her brand was not reflecting who she really was. How she was able to work through it, identify her true brand, and transition into a career was very helpful for me. Your career is not always going to be smooth sailing, it is how you chart your course after a set-back that is the most valuable. Chee Chew and Nyle Miyamoto were very inspiring on how to stay authentic. Don't be afraid to be yourself and don't shy away from reaching out to those who may not be familiar with your cultural background.

Since attending this last session, I have been inspired to update my internal one-pager I use for my information interviews. I find myself more self-aware of my environment and identify opportunities to reach out to individuals who I would have never thought of reaching out to prior. As with everything I'm learning in this program, practicing and pushing myself outside my comfort zone is how I will grow. Looking forward to continuing my career development!