Facilitated by their program director, new media management alumni find success

Two alumni of the Newhouse School’s new media management (NMM) program received national honors at the Mutual Fund Industry Awards ceremony in July.

Sebastian Benkert G’13 was named Marketer of the Year and Tom Staudt G’13 was named a “Rising Star.” The awards program recognizes business leaders, creative minds and top performers in the U.S. asset management industry.

Benkert is chief marketing officer and Staudt is chief operating officer of ARK Invest, which they joined just after its inception.

Staudt came to Newhouse with a plan to someday run a television station. After completing the NMM program, he earned an M.B.A. from Cornell University and was offered a job at SONY Television. But at the request of Stephen Masiclat, director of NMM, Staudt interviewed with ARK Invest and subsequently joined the company.

“[He] ended up joining a firm that [had a high] chance of failing,” Masiclat says. “Instead, he became an integral member of the team that built one of the best investment firms in the business, and I am certain that Tom’s efforts are a significant component of that success.”

Staudt says Masiclat has played a key role in his life.

“I will never be able to adequately thank Steve for all that he has given and contributed to my life. His ability to challenge while teaching, guide while mentoring and provide a sounding board of sage advice has had a profound impact on me academically and professionally,” he says. “But perhaps most important is that I am honored to personally call him a friend.”

Benkert, a native of Germany, was the first Fulbright Scholar to join the NMM program. Masiclat calls him “the most talented communication designer to ever come to NMM.” His name was at the top of the list when CEO Catherine Wood approached Masiclat as she was starting ARK Invest, seeking recommendations for alumni who could help build awareness of the firm. Though his Fulbright Scholarship meant Benkert had to leave the country within a year of joining ARK, Wood hired him anyway, and he continued consulting for ARK in Germany until he could return to the U.S. in 2018.

NMM alumna Lisa Dodd G’15, also works at ARK Invest as head of PR and communications. She met Benkert, Staudt and Wood during the NMM Spring Seminar in New York City. She also interviewed with the company at Masiclat’s urging, joining the team in July 2015.

“Given her talent, her grit and the quality of the team at ARK, I expect her to be an award recipient in the future,” Masiclat says.

Top: The ARK Invest team. Staudt is at right, Benkert is fourth from right and Dodd is front row, third from left.