Working for Herself: Double Hoya Launched Personal Branding Company After Graduation
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After her first Hoya graduation, Jennifer Dalton (B’99, EMBA’12) went to work in the corporate sector. Immediately she was put in charge of more than 20 people and found herself calling on what she learned on the Hilltop.
“All of the class work, organizational development and design, and studying abroad, gave me a diverse, strategic perspective,” Dalton said. “Being thrown into a management role positioned me to successfully transition into the corporate space, while providing opportunities to practice presenting to senior leaders, set and communicate goals, influence my peers, and coach a team of twenty four people.”
On her 10-year work anniversary, Dalton gave birth to her second son and found herself at a crossroads. She had a successful corporate career, and found herself considering other options since she was surrounded by entrepreneurs (her parents, husband, grandparents). Dalton realized she didn’t want to spend another 10 years working for someone else. She wanted her work to have purpose and make an impact, which is what she wanted to tell her sons when they were old enough to ask, “Mommy, what do you do?”
That was when Dalton decided to return to her alma mater and eventually became a double-Hoya.
“I chose to go back for my Executive MBA (EMBA) because I knew it would allow me to continue to work and delve deeper into the expertise needed to run a business. I found every single class was engaging, and what I loved most was it showed me how to think from a c-suite and business owner’s perspective,” said Dalton. “I loved the campus, the location, and I already knew the quality of the professors and content would be amazing.”
Dalton’s goal upon returning for her master’s degree was to successfully transition out of the corporate world and become an entrepreneur. She chose the EMBA program specifically for this purpose. The entrepreneurship residency competitions, working with large and small international companies, and the diversity of her classmates are just a few of the reasons the program appealed to her.
Dalton started her own company, BrandMirror, a week before graduation. Much like her previous life change, this one also occurred on her son’s birthday. BrandMirror aids companies and individuals in reflecting on their current reputation, defining their purpose and what change they want to enable in the world, and creates a structured approach in how to deliver on those brand promises.
“Some of my classmates became my first customers. They went back to grad school to figure out how to transition into a senior-level role or move industries, and they hadn’t thought a lot about their personal brand or how to communicate what made them truly valuable and unique,” she said. “I ended up pursuing a certification in personal brand strategy, and that’s what my company is built around. I began helping my classmates think through how they were messaging their unique value proposition, especially if they were moving from the military to the comportate sector.”
In addition to serving on various nonprofit boards, running a company, and being a parent, Dalton also has found the time to write two books. The Intentional Entrepreneur: How to be a Noisebreaker, Not a Noisemaker, which was published in 2016, highlights the importance of having a personal brand, especially if you’re an entrepreneur trying to launch a business. She followed it in 2019 with Listen: How to Embrace Difficult Conversations that Life Throws at You, which highlights topics ranging from speaking with aging parents on medical care, how to handle if your child comes out, and maintaining relationships with those who have differing political opinions
“What I learned in school helped me think about what I do,” Dalton said. “How do I differentiate myself? What does this look like going forward? I continue to meet people who know of Georgetown, went to Georgetown, even graduated the same year as me at Georgetown. That network and those relationships have been meaningful and made a big difference throughout my personal and professional life.”