Administrator and alum teaches Venture members about personal and professional branding

Paul Kurgan

Head of Communications and Strategic Initiatives Ari Engelberg ’89 led a Venture workshop on the intricacies behind the branding of distinguished businesses and his advice in creating personal brands March 15.

Engelberg earned his J.D. and MBA from UCLA, where he co-founded He worked at numerous internet startups, developed networks and branding for charter schools eventually made his way to the school , where he currently manages all aspects of its brand.

The branding workshop included a presentation and advice from Engelberg.

Engelberg began his presentation by discussing the fundamentals behind successful branding. He said that what makes name-brand companies like McDonald’s and Disney successful are both their explicit and implicit promises, which are clearly stated and implied, respectively.

Engelberg said the implementation of these implicit and explicit promises makes the brand successful.

“When we think about the [Harvard-Westlake] brand or [other]brands out there in the world, we think not only of the values that are expressed but also about the values that are implied,” Engelberg said. “As a school, we stand for more than just excellence, purpose, integrity, community and joy.”

After leading a discussion on brand consistency, mission values and business management, Engelberg gave students advice on creating a personal brand. He emphasized that a strong personal brand stems from consistency.

“What matters most in developing your brand, when you have a sense of who you are and what you want to be known for, [is] that you live it out day-to-day,” Engelberg said. “Just like a restaurant has to deliver a high-quality experience to every customer and just like people aren’t going to count on Disney for family-friendly programming if they start putting out content that isn’t family-friendly, you also have to be consistent in how you conduct yourself if you want your brand to be strong.”

Engelberg concluded his workshop with advice for students who want to start and develop their own personal brands. He said it is important to be authentic, consistent, to embrace failure and, most importantly, to make a difference in the lives of others.

Club Co-Lead Ryan Pinsker ’23 found Engelberg’s emphasis on authentic branding to be particularly compelling. 

Venture Co-Lead and Head of Workshop Events Ryan Pinsker ’23 said he thought the workshop was insightful and interesting.

“The biggest takeaway for me was that a personal brand is the person’s story,” Pinsker said. “The real branding skill comes from having an authentic story and being able to articulate it well.”