Nancy Poleon: Meet the Rock’n’Roll Change-maker Helping Women Rise at Work

Nancy Poleon is on a mission to empower women in The Netherlands to 'brand' themselves better to smash the glass ceiling and rise at work.

Nancy Poleon has dedicated much of her life to empowering women to amplify their voice. Formerly a marketing manager at a record label for artists such as Alicia Keys and Pink, at age 37 she won the Music Manager’s Award for ‘Best Dutch Music Manager of the Year’ which prompted the question: ‘how can I help more women achieve their dreams?’

After getting involved with female-led initiatives such as TEDxAmsterdamWomen, in 2014, she founded BrandedU with the mission to translate her skills from the entertainment world to helping women make themselves more visible at work. Her current mission is to help women grow into leadership positions by building a strong personal brand.

Why BrandedU? "“You can’t build a career simply by doing a good job. The hard truth is that your work will not speak for itself; you have to speak for it!”

“Women make up 50% of the population, and my job will not be done until we achieve 50% female leadership! My mission is to help women speak for their work, sell their worth, and achieve their goals.”

For many outsiders, it may seem that The Netherlands does a pretty great job on the equality front. Yet, according to Nancy, there is much to be done. She explains that while there are many more women studying in The Netherlands, there are only 25% of women in management positions.

“This is less than in Western Europe where the number is 36%. I myself studied marketing, where the majority of students are women, and yet every time there’s a marketing award, it’s all too often goes to a man!

Nancy attributes her innate ability for personal branding to a ‘spiritual journey’ her mother went on while growing up. As a teenager, Nancy found herself surrounded by books such as ‘The Power of Now’ and her mother would challenge her with statements such as: “that’s just a mindset” or “you're stuck in a limiting belief!”

This unique environment fast-forwarded Nancy’s personal development, and allowed her to ‘find her voice’ at a young age.

For Nancy, finding her voice, and understanding how to tap into her deep power, has enabled her to achieve many impressive accolades. And while she rose to the top as a music marketing manager, she felt the urge to do more.

“I see so many women trapped at mid-level management, rising as far as the ‘glass ceiling’ will allow. They need to think like a musician to rise to the top!

“Entertainers like to do things differently; they are the best brand builders I know. They know they need a stage to perform on, or their song won’t be recognized, and they also know it takes more than talent and hard work to rise to the top; they need to foster a community and fans!”

Photo: Tessa Overbeek

Beyond BrandedU, Nancy is building a ‘sisterhood’ which she believes many men naturally curate through ‘hobbies’ such as golf or other events outside of work.

“When times get hard, and they will, you need people around you to keep you going. Having a real connection with like-minded women is super important. We are humans after all. You need support and what better support than that of your tribe.”

Underscoring her point, she continues...

“Last week, a woman came to me scared about a reorganization and losing her job. I asked: who are your fans? Who is cheerleading for you? Who’s going to make sure you keep your job?”

Her final words:

“Being self-confident isn’t about bragging. It’s about knowing your value and owning the things you are proud of! Yes this can be hard, but everyone can master this skill!”
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