Recap: A Night of Personal Branding with MBA@UNC and the Ellevate Network

On Feb. 11, MBA@UNC partnered with global professional women’s organization Ellevate Network to host an evening reception in New York City for people interested in learning how to define their personal brand. Ellevate Network Chair and CEO Sallie Krawcheck, who is also the co-founder of Ellevest, delivered the keynote address.

Susan Cates, president of executive development at UNC Kenan-Flagler and executive director of MBA@UNC, introduced Krawcheck and talked about how Ellevate aligns with MBA@UNC’s “passion for women to be fully engaged in business, always.” Given Krawcheck’s professional mission to help women reach their financial and professional goals, Cates said she was the ideal person to headline a personal branding event.

“We all have a personal brand,” Krawcheck said during her keynote. “A personal brand is what people say about you when you leave the room.” The reason a personal brand is important is because we all have one, she explained. “If we are not actively making our own personal brand, then someone is doing it for us.”

According to Krawcheck, it’s through understanding who we want to be, what we want to accomplish, and communicating it that we are able to actively shape our career. Krawcheck would know. She was fired from Citi Global Wealth Management and Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and both times the news made the front page of the Wall Street Journal. This could have defined her personal brand, but she did not let these moments define her. Instead she developed her own personal brand—an outward manifestation of what she had inside herself. She refused to let two Wall Street Journal front pages dictate who she was.

These days, Krawcheck is known as much for her efforts on behalf of women as for her public failures. Her oustings put a national spotlight on the lack of women in finance.

“What I’ve started to say, which is quite shocking, is that I was fired because I was a woman,” Krawcheck explained in an interview with Newsweek. “I don’t mean in the traditional sense of having different parts, but more I had a very different way of thinking.” She referred to studies that show women have a longer-term perspective and are more client-focused and more relationship-oriented than men. “Diversity would have made the financial downturn less, much less, a lot less severe.”

While the Wall Street Crisis of 2007 and 2008 was portrayed to be the result of greed, Krawcheck said she believes it was a lack of diversity that was the issue.

“Gender diversity, I think, would have kept the crisis from being nearly as bad as it was,” she said during the event.

Krawcheck also emphasized that gender diversity leads to better company performance and is good for the economy, which is why she is an advocate for what she refers to as inclusive capitalism, where women are fully engaged in the economy. It’s for these reasons that Krawcheck invested in Ellevate.

Once Krawcheck finished her keynote address, Dr. Sridhar Balasubramanian, associate dean of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s full-time MBA and online MBA@UNC programs, discussed what it takes to build your own personal brand. Event attendees were given homework in the form of a “workbook” to help them explore their personal brands and generate awareness about their current brand positioning.

The night ended with a networking event for all attendees to meet each other and learn more about MBA@UNC and the Ellevate Network.