• ABSA

Personal & Professional Branding with Microsoft

On October 11th, ABSA held the first professional speaker event of the year. Microsoft Senior Program Manager Thomas Bressler shared his personal stories on the value of personal and professional branding, tips and tricks to stand out to recruiters, amplifying and translating one’s valuable experience during networking, and empathy mapping.


In summary, here is Bressler’s advice when it comes to personal and professional branding:

1. Understand the meaning of a personal brand.

Do you know what exactly a personal brand is? Most of us may not have put much thought into this before. “A personal brand is a widely-recognized and largely-uniform perception or impression of an individual based on their experience, expertise, competencies, actions and/or achievements within a community, industry, or the marketplace at large.”


Bruce Lee’s personal brand is: “Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own.”

⤷ Bressler highlights that it is important to make it your own and not try to be someone else. In other words, be authentic and genuine.


2. Create something that could differentiate yourself from everyone else.

Think about five things that represent you, and only you. What comes to mind? Pause, think, and reflect for a bit. A personal branding exercise that Bressler recommends doing is to ask yourself what you want and why you want it. You need to know your purpose because your “why” is going to keep you going when you want to give up.


3. Give empathy mapping a try.

You might be wondering, what is “empathy mapping?” In the middle of the diagram, there’s you, along with your values, beliefs, and experience. On the outside, there’s the audience and empathy mapping, where you put yourself in the other person’s shoes in a perspective of understanding. Taking some time to reflect on what you think your audience feels or knows about you can help with discovering and envisioning what your brand is.



4. Recognize why having a personal brand is important.

A personal brand can be seen as a major tool in your toolbelt that can be used to your advantage. It is a differentiator that sets you apart from other people and a guiding light, like the North Star and can be used both in your personal and professional life.


5. Connect your personal and professional brand together.

Who said that personal and professional can’t intertwine? Your personal brand can be applied to every aspect of your life. The worst feeling in the world can be the interview of your dreams but performing poorly during it. Bressler’s advice to overcome this feeling is to prepare by doing mock interviews. Another tip is to practice your 10 second elevator pitch, where you articulate who you are and what you want. Make sure to balance both personal and professional because one helps you become better at the other. Professional skills are also complementary to them and your brand can exemplify through your actions.


During the event, Bressler also explained what his own personal brand is: “F.O.C.U.S.”



  • Fun: Bressler shares that he is not super serious all the time and enjoys joking around and laughing.

  • Opportunity: Although he almost had his opportunities taken away, he found them through personal, professional, and educational ways. When you have the opportunity to step into greatness, take it because it is not always handed to you.

  • Challenge: Life is a challenge. However, as a true optimist, he believes that there is a better way. Challenge everything you do. Even though there will be pain and struggles along the way, it will lead to success in the end.

  • Unity: Teamwork makes the dream work. You don’t need to do it by yourself. Get to know the people around you in the community and lean on each other.

  • Service: Giving is important to Bressler. When you give, it will eventually come back to you. The willingness to be of service to others is what strengthens relationships.


Overall, Bressler’s key takeaway is to treat your life like an experiment. For instance, if you don’t enjoy your job, pivot. He also mentions grit and how you cannot win the game in the first quarter, so don’t define yourself by a mistake you made because you can learn and grow from your experience. It’s important to network, make new friends, find a mentor, and build a community.


If you weren’t able to attend the event, don’t worry! You can check out the full recording of the presentation in your emails. We have more upcoming events for fall quarter! We hope to see you there on Mondays from 6-7pm in PCAR 393.


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