Kentuckians love bourbon, and Kentucky communities love bourbon’s leaders. In the final session of the Ignite Louisville program for the Spring 2017 class, we learned how Brown-Forman continues to produce the best of both.
Kirsten Hawley (LLC Board ’11-15, BF ’09, FL ’07), SVP and Chief Human Resource Officer at Brown-Forman encouraged us to manage our careers like a brand – using examples as far-ranging as Muhammad Ali and Volvo to show the importance of differentiation, relevance, and esteem to success.
As an individual, do you know your consumer? Do you deliver what matters? Do you keep your promises? Kirsten reminded us that leaders must answer these questions with thoughtfulness, intentionality, and focus as requests and responsibilities grow in tandem with our careers – especially in a possibility city like Louisville.
After all, “what got you here won’t get you there,” Kirsten said. As individuals move toward the middle of their careers, the yardstick for success shifts away from competencies to a deeper need for interpersonal skills and strategy.
Company leaders like Ralph de Chabert, SVP and Chief Diversity Officer, and Campbell Brown, President and Managing Director of Old Forester, modeled this for us in their talks. At a time when the Commonwealth’s signature bourbon and spirits industry is growing fast, it was inspiring to see Brown-Forman’s leaders slow down to reflect on the values, features, and benefits that sustain their personal and professional brands.
We had a blast ending the day with an Old Forester tasting session led by Master Bourbon Specialist Jackie Zykan, who taught us to taste and enjoy Old Forester responsibly.
Overall, this program day highlighted that it takes intentionality and hard work to build a successful personal brand. However, the best leaders and brands make it look easy.
I thank Leadership Louisville, Brown-Forman, and my own employer for giving me the time to be intentional and move further in my personal brand journey.