Advancing Executive Development January 23, 2019

The Brand Package: A Career Essential For Every Executive

By The Athena Alliance

For executive women—those who are VP or C-level—a Board Package is an essential tool in any career toolbox. It doesn’t matter whether being a board director is a part of the career path; it’s a critical element for leaders who want to refine their skills, own their value, and become board-savvy.

What is a Brand Package?

The short answer: A Brand Package brings together an executive’s career achievements, greatest strengths, and general background to create a cohesive overview of the executive. It includes an executive’s bio, an elevator pitch, a polished resume, and a meticulously crafted LinkedIn profile.

The long answer: A Brand Package is far more than a communications tool. It’s a launch pad for executive women to fully own their strengths and the value they deliver to an organization—and then take the leap to the next level of their career, whether that’s an SVP role, a C-level role, or a board position.

 

The value of becoming board savvy, board confident, and board connected

It’s unavoidable: interacting with, and presenting to, boards is part of the modern executive experience. But unfortunately, it’s a part of the experience that most new executives arrive unprepared for. For many, their initial interactions with boards get dropped on them; there’s often little time to prepare (the right way). And so, board presentations get treated like any other presentation.

Except, they’re not any other presentation. It’s a presentation that can catapult one’s career or potentially crush it. That’s a lot at stake.

While board construct is still on the cusp of transformation (most corporate boards still resemble the construct of the 1980s!), today’s way of doing business means boards of directors often want to talk to the experts in-house—the ones facing challenges that businesses are only just experiencing in the last five to 10 years. Like cybersecurity, the importance of brand (and the court of public opinion), and the changing demographics, sentiments and structure of worker-employer relationship. This means executives from many functional areas such as HR, operations, technology, marketing, and more often get tapped to share their expertise with the board.

Take chief information officers, for example. One article reports that, “Presenting to the board of directors is no longer a novel experience for CIOs. Given the importance of technology to business strategy—as both enabler and growth driver—IT leaders now make regular appearances before their boards, who themselves better understand the critical role technology plays. But that doesn’t make the prospect of speaking to the board any less daunting.”

And chief human resource officers: “Talent management is gaining a new prominence on corporate boards. It’s evolved from being an agenda item under succession planning or compensation to driving strategic decisions about fostering innovation, growth and the ability to outperform the competition.”

These days, no executive can avoid interacting with boards—it’s part of their job.

 

For executives: know your value (and prepare for a high-pressure environment)

Harvard Business Review notes that presenting to senior executives isn’t something to take lightly. In fact, “senior executives are one of the toughest crowds you’ll face as a presenter. They’re incredibly impatient because their schedules are jam-packed—and they have to make lots of high-stakes decisions, often with little time to weigh options. So, they won’t sit still for a long presentation with a big reveal at the end.”

This is where a Brand Package comes in. It can push an executive from good to great. It instills confidence in an executive: a profound ownership of their career, their achievements, and their know-how that they personally earned throughout their lifetime.

It creates a hard-sought cohesiveness, and helps any executive step up to the plate (the  boardroom plate, that is) in their best light.

 

For businesses: prime your executive team for the board—or for the next phase of their career

Forward-thinking CEOs know the value of developing their top-ranking team members. It’s an investment not just in the executives, but in the livelihood of the business. It primes the most senior executives for a long, satisfying career with an organization where they are set up for success.

It also takes senior leaders and coaches them to the next level, whether that’s excelling even more in a current role or making their way to another C-level role or board position at an outside company.

Leadership finesse, communication, and presentation skills are not necessarily natural to every leader (even those who have earned a role in the executive ranks). Yet, these skills are the most sought after and most valued in a successful leader.

Senior consultants at a global executive search firm said, “the ideal C-suite candidate possesses the power of persuasion and excellent presentation skills… Speaking convincingly to the concerns of varied audiences—knowledgeable and unsophisticated, internal and external, friendly and skeptical—calls for mental deftness and stylistic versatility. Some consultants emphasized that a strong candidate should be ‘board-ready’; others emphasized the ability to ‘influence the direction of a business and the front office’ and to achieve ‘organizational buy-in.’”

 

Inside Athena: meet your Brand Package team

Adriana Azuri leads Athena’s in-house Brand Package mastermind. She and a team of writers work with each and every Athena Alliance member, one-on-one, to form a customized rand Package. She’s been an executive writer for more than 18 years.

Her specialty: conveying the whole nature of an executive’s value. Quantifying career wins. Highlighting top achievements. Positioning top leaders to show their very best self—on paper and in the boardroom. In addition to Adriana and the Brand Package, Athena guides members to success through other coaches, such as media, voice and presentation, and more.

Members come to Athena through many avenues: from corporate partnerships, on their own, or a referral from a friend. Some are absolutely dead-set on achieving that board seat. Others are in exploratory mode. Athena also works with CEOs who are building their boards and investors who want to ramp up the next generation of business. And then, of course, there’s those executives in our network who want to reach the next step, like a C-level title.

The experience unifying each and every member is that they must be board-savvy to make that next win. And it all starts with the Brand Package.