Building Your Personal Brand in Compliance: Top 5 Tips
Every time I interview a professional for placement in my compliance team, the first question I ask is ‘tell me about yourself’. This allows the candidate to speak in an open format, and a chance to present an elevator pitch about himself/herself. But almost every candidate speaks about his/her work experience on all the projects and assignments during their career in a chronological order! Yes, that gives me a summation of their assignments and work experiences, but what is it that differentiates one candidate from another with similar profiles? Does he/she have a USP that describes who he/she is and what he/she can be valued for, his/her strengths, interests, capabilities and so on that makes him/her a stronger fit for the role?
In today’s world, personal branding has grown extremely significant, both within one’s organization as well as externally in the global community. It helps in career progression, gaining visibility and finding new opportunities in employment or business. As I groom Compliance professionals in the art of self-branding, here are my top 5 tips on how you can build yours:
Decide on your personal brand – I have been working in banking compliance for over 2 decades now, and early in my career my goal was to rise the corporate ladder, just like anyone else. But after spending 15 years in the industry, my mindset changed from career growth to finding a purpose and adding value through my work. That is when I decided to focus on my niche – financial crimes compliance – and work in this area both internally (within my organization) and externally (in the global community). I can see now that my brand has developed as an industry leader in this very space! Ethics and compliance is a very broad and deep domain, so it helps if you narrow down to your own area of expertise or interest/aspiration, aligning with what you wish to accomplish professionally, and work on developing your brand in that focus area.
Stand out through your profile – Whether it is your job resume or social media profile, create your own USP that differentiates you from your peers and positions you in a premium bracket. In the digital world we live in now, a curated social media presence aligning with your chosen focus area consistently across multiple platforms can reinforce your brand. Your introductions and activities in all these profiles must speak about your area of expertise/passion, specific work you have done in this field, certifications and publications. I generally suggest a 100-word headline in a resume which doubles up as your elevator pitch and sets the perception about your brand.
Build a Compliance Network – ‘A man is known by the company he keeps’ is an age old proverb. If you are interested in anti-bribery investigation, for example, network with professionals in anti-bribery & corruption (ABC), join related compliance groups and forums, attend events on this subject (most webinars are complimentary), follow ABC leaders and industry influencers. Asking questions, sharing ideas or just being visible in ABC circles will not only strengthen your knowledge and resources in this area, but also build your credibility as an ABC professional/expert. Women in Ethics & Compliance is one such forum which has a galaxy of compliance professionals as well as aspirants – undoubtedly a great platform to share ideas and grow as a compliance expert!
Thought Leadership – Compliance is a very dynamic area with rapid changes in Regulations, technology, operating models and so on. Sharing your point of view, e.g. publishing an analysis of a new Regulation, posting your opinion on a news report that can have an impact on compliance, talking about an industry challenge and what model/innovative process or tool can resolve it and so on within your compliance community networks can elevate your brand as an original thinker and thought leader. I consciously practice this through my dedicated Compliance column in ‘Corporate Compliance Insights’, articles in reputed journals and social media posts, which brought me a lot of visibility and led to my speaking engagements in global compliance conferences.
Mentor aspiring compliance professionals – Compliance is an area which has assumed immense significance, and the role of compliance professionals has grown to be a very niche one, which is in high demand but low supply. Enabling our current and future workforce, mentoring and skilling them in this impactful role can strongly enhance one’s brand. I have been actively mentoring aspiring professionals and university students interested in a career in compliance, e.g. through sessions to students of IE University (Madrid), to current and aspiring AML professionals in TCAE (Toronto Compliance & AML Events), in addition to running a FCC forum within my organization. This has not only increased my follower base, but also reinforced my brand as an FCC leader.
Building one’s brand takes time and conscious effort, but I can vouch for the fact that it is worth it! It is not enough to know your business, it is equally important to let the world know precisely what value you bring, what are your unique strengths/traits that make you stronger than your peers – that is what sets you apart and makes you a recognized leader in your field! With Ethics & Compliance being among the top agenda of CXOs across industries today, the time is right for Compliance professionals to build their personal brand in this space – this is certainly one step to propel your business/career!
What is one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
There was a period in my career when I refused travel based work assignments, to focus on my personal life in my home country, India. But in my career of over 2 decades, I have learnt - and would advise my younger self, that every opportunity life gives must be taken up, whether personal or professional. One need not be paused to focus on the other, as every experience enriches us in ways we can never fathom!
If you had to choose an alternative career, what would you be doing now?
I have always been interested in academics and wanted to teach in a University or Management School as a career when I was growing up. I have had a long, successful corporate stint, but Academics is my passion!
If you were to sit and reflect at the end of your career, what one hope do you have?
I hope to have made a difference, howsoever small, that has helped human lives and society through my efforts in fighting financial crimes, contributing to the industry/community by spreading awareness, new ideas and innovations and mentoring the next generation in this global combat!