New York Marketing Exec advises students to build their brand

Feb 24, 2010

Executive Rob Dhoble speaking Feb. 23 to DelVal students









By Edward Levenson


Even if they don't become household names like Martha Stewart, Donald Trump and Oprah Winfrey, Delaware Valley College students can achieve success by developing their own "brand," according to the president of an international marketing firm.

"We're living in a culture where the personality of an individual is a brand," said Rob Dhoble, president of Diversified Agency Services Healthcare, the health services division of Omnicom, a worldwide conglomerate based in New York.

Dhoble addressed students this week as the Thomas W. Watson Executive-in-Residence. The program was founded in 2005 by Thomas W. Watson, a 1957 DelVal graduate and co-founder and former vice chairman of Omnicom. Executives from various businesses visit the college twice a year to share with students their personal career stories and to give their perspective on trends and issues influencing the world economy.

Dhoble, who earned a bachelor's degree in marketing from Temple University in 1984, said he got his first job as a pharmaceutical company salesman through the traditional printed resume.

Today's companies no longer rely largely on resumes but gather advance information on job applicants from Facebook, MySpace and other social networking Web sites, according to Dhoble.

"They will check you out before they meet you," he told about 100 students attending the first of two lectures in the Moumgis Auditorium at the Student Center.

"Industry is looking for special people with unique talents," Dhoble added, noting that the ability to collaborate with others is extremely important.

Students should start building their "brand" well before graduation by assessing their ideals, skills and interests and by asking friends to evaluate their personal qualities and strengths.

"The whole idea is not to be something you're not," Dhoble said. "You're trying to break away from the pack and show you're somebody different."

He cited nine well-known individuals who have become strongly identified with a particular field or cause, although they may have spent decades to reach that goal.

Martha Stewart, for example, built such a reputation as the nation's doyenne of domesticity that she rebounded from a federal prison stint related to an inside stock deal. "Her brand is as strong as it's ever been," Dhoble said.

Students should not try to cover up their flaws when seeking a job, but should deal with a negative forthrightly.

"I encourage you always in business and life to be honest. Be the editor of your honesty. Put a positive spin on it," Dhoble advised.

In a second lecture, Dhoble said companies are seeking to improve the image of their brands by adopting policies and practices that are socially, environmentally or economically responsible.

Corporations may donate some of their profits to charity (or in the case of Newman's Own food products, all of the profits). They may pledge to pay subcontractors fairly and not use child labor, directly or indirectly. They may develop a manufacturing process that recycles waste materials instead of sending them to a dump.

"People are voting their personal values on products and services they buy," said Dhoble, who is pursuing a master's degree in health policy.

Students should consider a company's responsibility as well as its profitability when they apply for a job, he added.