MS in Professional Writing (MSPW) alum, Katie Bennett, is currently Vice President of Marketing & Communications at Moelis & Company. In this role, Katie is focused on elevating the global investment firm’s brand and executing on strategy to support various client touchpoints. This includes oversight on everything from branding, email communications, agency management, and developing various marketing materials. Day-to-day, Katie manages large integrated marketing initiatives involving both senior leadership and external partners.
Q: Tell us about writing for the financial industry?
A: In the banks I've worked in the last five or so years, I've essentially operated as a translator for our internal stakeholders, breaking down the complex nature of their work in a clear, digestible way. Marketing for the financial industry isn’t traditional product marketing – our products are not something you can pick up in a store – there are plenty of banks where you can’t get a credit card or open a checking account. So whereas many marketeers work on taglines for products found on a shelf or that you can buy scrolling through Instagram, our campaigns are much more tailored to the nature of the firm, their relationships, and their clientele. Depending on the particular service or initiative we are promoting, much of the messaging and writing hinges on the branding of the firm, strengthening our partnerships , and raising awareness about particular services.
Q: What made you realize that writing was something you wanted to pursue professionally?
A: I've always been a strong writer and loved the craft ever since I can remember. When I was an undergraduate student at NYU, all freshmen had to take a class called "Writing the Essay" which ensured everyone had a baseline knowledge of strong essay writing skills. When I finished my undergraduate degree, I started applying to freelance writing projects, but I wasn't sure yet what niche or industry I wanted to lean into. My student job at the university turned into a full-time offer and I enrolled in the MS in Professional Writing program to learn more about what full-time writing careers were possible.
Q: Talk about how the MSPW helped shape who you are as a writing professional. Any specific mentors, books, or experiences that stand out?
A: What still surprises me about my grad program is that the classes I didn't expect to like or resonate with, are the classes that I reference the most in my career in this field. The kind of writing that is done today in professional settings is much more technical than most people realize. The degree is a Master’s of Science for a reason, and I was surprised at how much I needed to learn about the science of how we communicate in our current digital landscape. In a lot of ways, writing is like a formula. You have the various pieces that work in certain ways and you have to edit them together to create a solution.
Q: What advice would you give to a professional writer interested in a career like yours?
A: Push yourself to always be learning and try new things. I was terrified to transition from academia to finance, but starting where I could work on a multitude of projects that ran the spectrum of the marketing landscape, I was able to take a crash course in my new field. My role didn't limit me to one facet, like social media or email or advertisements, I had my hand in projects across the entire department. That provided me with the understanding I needed to decide what I loved about the sector and ultimately where I wanted my career to grow in the future.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share?
A: I think NYU School of Professional Studies is an incredible place for someone wanting to network and pick up new skills. I certainly did not join the MS in Professional Writing program as a bridge to the finance industry– that organically happened as I considered what I wanted from my career and how I wanted to apply what I learned in grad school. Learning never ends, and after graduation your career can be your next classroom. Practice asking questions about what you find interesting and take on more responsibility if you want to continue learning more about it.
Thank you to Katie Bennett for sharing her professional writing journey with us.
To learn more about the MS in Professional Writing program at NYU School of Professional Studies, visit sps.nyu.edu/mspw