Educational Qualifications as a way to brand yourself

Part 1 of the Branding Yourself as a Trainer Series – the foolproof and proof-of-a-fool ways to get it done

A disclaimer up front: I am NOT a branding expert. When I talk about branding, I am talking as a layman that understands branding not as a branding expert but as a person who ‘cari makan’ as a trainer; an ongoing concern.

This topic of branding oneself is a concern to any trainer that is in the market. If not something that occupies a portion of their work, it is definitely something that has crossed their mind. Why is this so?

Well, as a trainer, we are the product. And with that in mind, of course, we want to be the product of choice to ‘cari makan’. This is for some trainers, an occupation because of the stiff competition out there. The training industry is a red ocean. To survive, every trainer needs to distinguish themselves from others.

What are some of the foolproof and proof-of-a-fool ways to get this done? This will be interesting. Let’s get the can opener and open some can of worms while we are at it 😉. Let’s get started with the first one, the qualification way.

You might ask, why qualification and not credentials?

Well, the reason is that credentials refer to academic or educational qualifications, such as degrees or diplomas that you have completed or partially complete and also occupational qualifications, such as professional certificates, certifications or work experience. For the sake of format and distinctions, I have decided to split credentials into two parts which are qualifications; which includes certification and working experience.

Let’s talk about qualifications.

There are qualifications and there are ‘kualification’. The former is legit while the latter is ‘goreng aje’ or spins, bogus; basically not real. In the training world nowadays, a bachelor’s degree is deemed to be the least of all qualifications. Forget about the diploma ok?

Now trainers are gunning for Masters and PhDs to distinguish themselves. This effort should be encouraged and applauded … when done the correct way. By the way, there is even a set of rates out there that pays trainers according to their qualification; one of the many games we can play in the training industry.

Of course, these types of educational qualifications as I called them, are deemed as valuable and a disguising characteristic because they demonstrate two things: knowledge and effort. The time invested in obtaining such a qualification is indeed commendable and the knowledge gained is immense. These two elements speak volumes about the credibility of a trainer. Because in training knowledge is highly regarded and character of a trainer is also important. This type of branding carries weight and is very popular indeed; rightly so.

It is so popular that there are trainers that are willing to buy or outright lie about their qualifications. This goes contrary to why the qualifications are deemed valuable; the knowledge gained and the effort invested. This happens quite often for Masters and PhD. Sadly, this is still happening because clients are not doing their due diligence on the trainer’s qualifications.

There is now a growing trend in obtaining an honorary doctorate as opposed to the conventional doctorate route. I am all for the honorary doctorate and in my opinion, is one of the highest qualifications a person can have because more often than not, it is conferred to you NOT by your own submission but by being nominated by a peer or a group of peers. The nomination will take into consideration the immense contribution of the individual in his or her field and also towards society. Proof of these contributions must be documented and defended to the select committee because it is scrutinised thoroughly. It has to pass stringent deliberation because it is a prestige to be conferred an honorary doctorate. It is a long process and it requires due diligence of the highest order. That is also the reason why not many honorary doctorates is conferred in convocations. That is how precious it is.

An honorary doctorate says that the receiver’s life work in pursuit of his mastery has contributed immensely to his or her field and has also benefitted humankind. That is how serious this recognition is. Your sheer life’s work is being recognised and that is why honorary doctorates are conferred to very established and mature individuals. It is worth noting that the convention of using the title Dr. is also very clear when it comes to honorary doctorates. It must be stated as such or commonly in Malaysia the abbreviation (Dr.) is used to denote it is an honorary doctorate.

Because of a few rotten apples that buy these qualifications as a way to BRAND themselves, it is sad, that we now need to be wary of the qualifications of trainers when we should be celebrating their knowledge and effort.

So, do go for those Diplomas, Bachelors, Masters and PhDs but do it the legitimate way. Be in integrity. Invest the time, gain new knowledge, reaffirm our old knowledge and even create new knowledge for others along the way to achieve these important milestones in life.

Brand yourself with integrity.