The value of personal branding for women in a hybrid world

Posted on: 4th January 2022

Reading time:  7 mins

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Nancy Poleon spent 15 years in the music and film industry, before going on to start her own business helping women to promote their personal brand and succeed in their chosen careers. She says that ‘hybrid working gives women the freedom to work how and where they want.’

As a marketing manager for BMG Europe, Nancy Poleon promoted some of the world’s biggest selling female artists including Britney Spears, Alicia Keys and Pink.

Suffice to say she knows a thing or two about the importance and value of a brand.

In 2014, she started BrandedU, helping women to fulfil their potential as leaders.

Poleon says that hybrid working, where women can split their time between home, an office HQ and a local coworking space, opens up a world of new opportunities for women to promote themselves and enhance their career prospects.

“I think hybrid working is the answer to what women have been asking for for years,” she says emphatically. “It offers them flexibility to determine their own working times and still be a successful leader in their chosen field.”

But what exactly is personal branding and what put Poleon on this path to helping other women succeed in business?

The value of sharing stories

“I’d received an award for ‘best Dutch music manager’ and had been invited to an event with 400 other influential women,” she recalls.

“I was really inspired by all these women standing on stage sharing their stories because I was general manager at a company with mostly male artists. At that time, we only had one female artist. For me, suddenly it felt, kind of, like, ‘wow, this is a new world.’

“I could really see the value of sharing stories, and I could see the value of women being more visible because that gives other women the courage to also make themselves visible.

“So I decided to start my own company, which became Branded Personalities and later, in 2014, started BrandedU – my initiative focused on helping women accelerate their careers.”

Poleon now hosts events for companies including Nike and PwC, as well as individuals, many of whom have the skills set to progress in their career but don’t necessarily know how to promote themselves.

She explains: “We will talk about subjects like networking, mentorship, limiting beliefs, unconscious bias, living through your core values, being authentic at work, not losing yourself, sisterhood. These are all topics that encompass personal branding.

“But, essentially, personal branding is about answering this one important question, which is, ‘what do I want to be known for? Is there a gap in how I’m perceived and what people really think I am?’”

The importance of feedback

And it doesn't matter if you’re trying to get to the next stage in your career or you’re a global superstar – the principles remain the same.

“I worked with Whitney Houston,” says Poleon. “She had an album out in 1998 called, My Love Is Your Love, and it was a very successful album. But it wasn't as successful as we hoped it would be.

“At that point, her brand was tarnished. Her personal life had become a problem. Her relationship with Bobby Brown was creating a lot of negative headlines.

“I don’t think she even knew how tarnished her brand was. There was this gap in how she wanted to be perceived, and how people were looking at her.

“And that made me think it’s so important you don’t lose yourself. But also that you’ve always got to ask for feedback, and not just because you want to become what other people think. It is also about making sure what you want them to think is what they really see.”

The best of both worlds

But what Poleon kept hearing during periods of lockdown, when working from home was the norm, was that women weren’t getting the exposure to help them progress in their careers.

“They were doing double shifts, they would help the kids because schools were closed, they would do the cooking. They were chatting to each other in WhatsApp groups about how hard it was but nobody was noticing!”

Poleon champions hybrid working because she sees it as the opportunity for women to create a work-life balance that can allow them to be a mother and have a career but also provides them with the space to promote their personal brand.

“I think hybrid working is a way for women to gain freedom. It doesn’t limit them to having to be in the office, so they get a little bit more freedom to plan their days.

“And women have been telling their bosses for decades what works for them, but they haven’t been listening.

“And that made us feel as if we had to do it in one way – by coming to the office early and leaving later. If the past 18 months has taught us anything, it’s that you can make a career without always having to be in the office.

“But also think about what happens when you’re in an office or coworking space like the ones that Regus has around the world.

“You still feel as if you’re working on your career because you might be able to connect to people in a different way, or set up meetings in a different way, or talk to people and get ideas from them in a different way. There are greater opportunities to network or share ideas.”

As Poleon concludes: “This flexibility that hybrid working has given us is going to be the way forward because people, not just women, want flexibility in their lives – and this includes the freedom to work how and where they want.”

Click here to find out more about BrandedU and the value of personal branding.

With locations in thousands of neighbourhoods all over the world, find out how Regus can help your business thrive in the new, hybrid world of work.

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