“There’s nothing to talk about today that you don’t already know intuitively,” said Guest Speaker Bill Fisse before his presentation, Building Your Leadership Brand in Times of Change.
Wielding a wireless microphone, he walked through the audience in one of Fiterman Hall’s spacious conference suites, engaging students, faculty and staff in a spirited discussion of the brands of corporations including Starbucks and McDonald’s.
A 34-year Human Resources Executive at Citi, Bill Fisse serves as Managing Director of Global ICG Campus Recruiting & Program Management Strategy.
“We’re neighbors,” he said in his opening comments. “At Citi where I work, we’re right up the street from the College, and the partnership between BMCC and Citi is growing.”
BMCC President Antonio Pérez, in his welcoming remarks, noted that Fisse has also helped raise funds for student scholarships, has welcomed BMCC students into Citi’s summer internship program, and “really cares about you, our students, and our City.”
“You’re going to need more than academic excellence,” Bill Fisse told the students in attendance.
“You’re going to need a brand—your personal brand. It’s how people see you every day, a set of values other people resonate to, and understand.”
He also stressed that a person’s “brand” is constantly evolving, and sometimes perceived differently than we expect.
“I can tell you from my almost 35 years at Citi, people think they’re coming off one way, and the so-called water cooler talk is very different. Your brand needs to be aligned with the way you come across.”
Students contributed their observations of Starbuck’s brand image, then moved on to examine the brand characters of Singapore Airlines and McDonalds.
“A brand is a promise delivered through every experience a person has with a company,” said Fisse. “It’s not just want you’re buying. It’s what you’re buying into.
”The brand “hiccup”
“During ‘Occupy Wall Street’ I was told, ‘Don’t wear your Citi shirt to restaurants and public places,” Fisse shared, and explained that even the most established brands can experience a “hiccup” in how they’re perceived.
In addition to events like the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis, many factors—including digitization and regulation—can impact on brand image, Fisse explained.
“Universities have brands, too,” he said, and presented as an example; the corroded brand image of Penn State (Pennsylvania State University), resulting from the actions of individuals including assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, now serving a life term for child molestation.
BMCC students shared their opinions about that event as well as the brand shifts associated with high-profile individuals like entertainer Miley Cyrus and golfer Tiger Woods.
Shifting focus to the students’ own personal brand, Fisse quoted business magnate Warren Buffet: “It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
The event closed with more Q&A, and afterwards, a crowd of BMCC students waited to shake hands with Fisse and exchange business cards.
EDITOR’S NOTE: To view the Power Point presentation that Bill Fisse presented as part of his talk, Building Your Leadership Brand in Times of Change, click HERE.