News Story

Alumni Success: Ullman '86 Develops His Brand — both personally, and professionally

 Chris Ullman at Binghamton University

Communications and PR mastermind, international whistling champion, Binghamton University graduate, published author, "Hamilton: an American Musical" connoisseur: Chris Ullman, '86 lives his passions unwaveringly.

Ullman, who earned his Bachelor's degree in political science, has worked in Washington, DC, for the entirety of his career, where he has worked in public relations and communications for different government offices. Now, in his current role as a Managing Director and Director of Global Communications at The Carlyle Group, he works to curate and hone the image and brand of the private equity firm — one of the largest firms of its kind in the world.

"Brand matters for three reasons," Ullman told a room of 40 eager students in a talk at the Fleishman Center earlier this month. "It lets us hire great people, attract capital, and form partnerships."

Ullman explained that this kind of brand importance carries over into more than just a marketing plan for businesses — personal branding is important and necessary to promote oneself to the world. In any interview, you need to be able to answer the question, "Why should I hire you?"

Ullman's expertise involves more than just branding and business. In June 2017, Ullman published his first book, "Find Your Whistle," a memoir that shares Ullman's experiences as an acclaimed, championship-winning whistler. Ullman's "whistle" is a metaphor for any skill that can bring people happiness and change lives. Ullman says that everyone has a whistle — the hard part is trying to find it.

One's whistle is an integral part of personal branding. For Ullman, whose whistle is, well, whistling, his brand is built from this unique skill. For example, he is always seen wearing a bowtie, which separates him from almost everyone else at his office. This makes him recognizable. Rather than just being "the guy from communications," he's "the guy who whistles — and wears a bowtie."

"My philosophy is called, 'different, but not too freaky,'" Ullman joked to the room of students. Having a sense of humor is an important part of his personal brand, too.

In order to find a career that will bring you both success and joy, Ullman explained that everyone needs to dig deep within ourselves to discover four different things:

  1. Heart — What do you love?
  2. Head — What are you actually good at and capable of?
  3. Network — Who do you know?
  4. Opportunity — What is available?

Jessie Rubin, a junior majoring in business administration, said that Ullman taught her the importance of developing her own brand. Though Rubin has focused her career goals on a career in financial services, Ullman's path showed her that she can broaden her perspective, and look into different industries.

"Ullman taught me that personal branding involves finding something you're passionate about, and then using that as another lens to understand other people, and have them understand you," said Rubin.

Ullman's TEDx talk is available here, and more information on Ullman can be found at his website: http://chrisullman.com

Find your Whistle Book Cover

"Find Your Whistle: Simple Gifts Touch Hearts and Change Lives" by Chris Ullman is available for purchase on Amazon.

For more information on personal branding or career consulting, please email the Fleishman Center at careers@binghamton.edu.