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I am catching up on my networking activities over the summer, and I have to say I see two fundamental shifts on how people brand themselves.

The first shift is away from corporate identity. Even if someone has been a lifer at IBM, their narrative is now away from the brand and holistically on topic for whatever their area of expertise is.

The second shift is the level of independence people are creating from companies. Shifts between corporate engagements are more frequent, and with less concern about spending time in a role.

What this tells me is that we have disengaged from corporate loyalty (given in many cases none was provided to us) and reengaged with “our kind of people” in industry to focus on our own status and place in the industry dialog. The corporate setting becomes just a backdrop to the actual engagement with the industry.

Who I might feel sorry for in this shift are those who believe they have a career path in a corporate setting, not realizing the shift in recognition in the industry for people that make a name for themselves instead of leveraging the company name. You are your own center of expertise, and if you buy into supporting someone else’s center, you can only leverage that so far.

It must be a challenge for HR executives to manage the divas, as there is nothing tying them anymore to a corporate brand. There was a period of time, for example, when a market analyst left one of the big players to set out on their own, only to be later pulled back by the lack of brand acknowledgement of their expertise. Now, staying for any period of time at the major brands is actually a career limiting move.

Is this just the “me” era, or is it really irrelevant who you work for and what you represent as a product or service?