Updated February 21 at 1:56pm
Focus: PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Women urged to find brand

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In an “Oprah-goes-corporate style makeover,” three Rhode Island businesswomen from different industry sectors have had their professional images enhanced, revamped and refreshed.

Michelle Girasole, 38, is a business owner who runs a Web site, thesassyladies.com, a resource for women entrepreneurs.

Diane Bessette, 52, is an assistant branch manager at the Webster Bank offices on Warwick Avenue in Warwick.

Sherry Flaherty, 33, is a senior project manager for Amgen Inc., in West Greenwich.

Their polished new looks will be on display at the April 28 “Refresh Your Business Brand” event at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Providence-Warwick in Warwick hosted by Leading Women of Southern New England.

The gathering is being sponsored by Right Management; Alayne White Spa; Elevé Image Consulting; Hair, Heart & Soul; and The Savory Grape. It will feature a reception, wine tasting and dinner, as well as a video diary of the three women’s transformation.

“Given the state of the job market, it’s so important for people to align their professional image with their professional accomplishments,” said Jackie Hennessey, a public relations consultant. “The way someone presents herself professionally can often make or break a job interview, a chance for a promotion, or an opportunity for a new client.”

Leading Women, with more than 2,000 members, bills itself as an organization with a singular, innovative focus on developing women leaders. Its president, Lisa Bergeron, said that simplicity is often a key factor in professional image makeovers. “Women want to be seen, not their clothes, not the perfume. If someone is overdone, that can be equally damaging. You want to keep things on brand. You want to be seen, not your outfit, not your hair.”

Bergeron noted what she sees as a difference between men and women in the workplace. “When you’re a woman, you’re looked at differently. Men go to work in their suits, and the only comment [made] is if they’re balding or not. With women, it’s the whole package,” she said. The personal-brand image for women leaders, she continued, must be visible at every point of contact.

For Michelle Girasole, it was important that her “refreshed” image reflect that she is someone who needs to move easily between the corporate board room, meeting with venture capitalists, and picking up her children at the school bus stop.

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