Navigating an interdisciplinary personal brand - A case study of IDBM alumni

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
International Design Business Management
In today's competitive labor market, characterized by frequent job changes and career transitions, personal branding has become essential for standing out. However, there is limited research on how individuals in emerging fields navigate personal branding. As interdisciplinary education programs continue to grow, understanding how these individuals approach personal branding is crucial. This thesis explored how interdisciplinary graduates construct their personal brand as well as what challenges they face when building their personal brand. To get an in-depth overview of the phenomenon in a real-life context, a single-case study of International Design Business Management (IDBM) graduates was conducted, with 10 in-depth semi-structured interviews with IDBM graduates from various years and tracks. The study findings indicate that while the graduates may not intentionally adopt a personal branding strategy, the elements they find valuable in building and maintaining a positive image align with established personal branding frameworks. However, the study identified that interdisciplinary graduates face challenges in constructing and communicating a simple, clear, and/or concise personal branding message. Additionally, employers' limited awareness of the benefits of interdisciplinary education presents challenges for interdisciplinary graduates in constructing their personal brand. Finally, the research revealed nuances of personal branding specific for interdisciplinary graduates, such as the need for intentional degree design, the value of multiple adaptable brands, and leveraging existing awareness of the benefits of interdisciplinary education. By expanding the existing body of knowledge on personal branding, this research underscores the necessity of studying personal branding within emerging fields. Furthermore, the findings of the thesis offer practical and actionable insights that can be utilized by interdisciplinary programs, as well as by their students, and graduates.
Thesis advisor
Eloranta, Ville
Shaw, Claire
personal brand, personal branding, interdisciplinary graduates, interdisciplinary higher education, t-shaped professional, generalist, soft skills
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