The Brand of You for Women in IH

Whether you’re a student at the beginning of your professional journey or a senior level professional with years of experience behind you, having a defined personal brand is important in the IH/OH industry.

“It’s critical to assist with achieving goals, obtaining advocates in your area of influence, and finding success no matter what your career path,” says Aileen Yankowski, CIH, MPH. She'll be leading a pair of sessions for Women in IH at AIHce EXP in Philadelphia this May.

If anyone knows about forging a personal brand in the IH/OH industry, it’s Yankowski. After receiving her Master’s Degree in Occupational Health from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Yankowski made a decision early on to expand into Environmental and Safety as a manager of all three disciplines. Following that decision, she was able to go from being a site EHS Manager to Regional Manager to a Division Director and then Executive Director.

Currently, Yankowski runs SMS Solutions, her consulting firm focused on assisting companies with implementing a management safety culture and developing accident investigation processes. Prior to that, she was Senior Manager of EHS and SMS with Gulfstream Aerospace Company where she established functional departments in both areas. Her impressive background also includes being an Executive Director of EHS for The Boeing Company, where she was responsible for compliance and assessment of services with a staff of 500 technical professionals to include IH, safety, environmental, radiation, and assessments for all of their locations worldwide.

We asked Aileen about her involvement with AIHA and the inspiration for her session.

AIHA: Can you tell us a little about your experience with AIHA and AIHce?

Yankowski: I’ve been a member of AIHA for over 25 years and have attended the conference every year but one. I always attended as a participant but didn’t get involved until I read an article in the Synergist five years ago about the Career and Employment Services Committee that sparked my interest. I contacted the author and joined the committee at the next conference. I quickly became involved, was brought in as Secretary, and ended up being the Committee Chair last year. The AIHA committee structure was new to me, but I’ve been impressed by the amount of networking and opportunities to work with professionals across the industry. The interest in establishing a Women in IH group was brought to my attention several years ago at a leadership conference, but it didn’t really get any traction until this past year with the hosted focus group meeting. I’m now leading the newly formed Women in IH Working Group.

AIHA: How did you decide to develop this session? 

Yankowski: Throughout my career, I was involved in hundreds of hiring panels, as well as selection of personnel for leadership positions within EHS and site or global operations. During discussions with the management team, I realized that people had unknowingly left an impression (real or perceived), either during an interview or while performing their current assignment, that could impact future opportunities. I also realized that you could shape and change opinions that people had by changing yourself, basically developing “The Brand of You” to attain your career goals. This is very similar to major corporations such as Toyota, Nike, Boeing, 3M, and BP that have strong brand identities and, at times, suffered from negative activities or events. Through the use of branding they were able to change the public’s opinion (real or perceived) to a more positive outcome.

"I realized that people had unknowingly left an impression (real or perceived) either during an interview or while performing their current assignment that could impact future opportunities."

AIHA: Will there be a lot of hands on learning in this session?

Yankowski: Yes, I’ll be providing an overview of branding, how it relates to an individual, and then providing guidelines on setting up a roadmap to develop your personal brand. We are allowing for a 30- to 40-minute workshop with facilitators to assist attendees with their roadmaps. After this session we hope to do a networking event to allow further discussion if needed. In addition, as the Women in IH Working Group develops, we hope to set up opportunities to connect during the year and obtain advice or guidance as needed.

AIHA: Anything else those interested should know about the Women in IH session?

Yankowski: The Brand of You session is actually the second part of two back-to-back sessions. The first one will be hearing from three women leaders in various career stages that will share their career journeys and their "top 5" keys to success. They should be great sessions, and attendees can leave with some solid advice and perhaps some new perspectives.

How solid is your personal brand right now? You'll definitely want to check out both of these sessions with Aileen Yankowski at AIHce EXP 2018. If you run into her during the conference, be sure to ask about the first marathon she ran on the hills of San Francisco.

Berrak Sarikaya is a content strategist and brand amplifier based in Seattle, Washington.

AIHce EXP 2018, held in Philadelphia, PA May 21-23, is the EXPerience of the year for IH and OEHS professionals across the country. You’ll be exposed to the latest trends, needs, and research impacting worker health with experiential education sessions, networking opportunities with like-minded professionals, and the tools you need to solve your workplace challenges. This highly-rated event also offers a robust virtual experience for those that want to reap the benefits of conference without the travel. Register today.