Make no mistake, the MBA program at the Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business at WTAMU requires students to write until it almost hurts. Communication is an invaluable tool in any MBA’s tool box. But sometimes a student arrives on the scene who has already paid her writing dues. That’s when it turns into a home court advantage in those courses with heavy writing requirements.
Natalie Saar, 34, works for the Capital Group, a financial services company. The Temecula California native has stayed true to her Golden State heritage, and lives in the Los Angeles area. In slightly more than a decade since finishing her undergraduate studies, she has served as a ghost writer for an A-list celebrity, written three books, and writes content for investors.
But more on that later.
Saar, who plans to graduate in December 2022, started her academic journey at the University of Maryland in their journalism school. “It was a huge culture shock, but even more a huge weather shock. I did not last more than a year there,” she said, with a hint of balmy southern California showing through. She then transferred to Azusa Pacific University, a private school located along Route 66. It was there that she was in a class of six students responsible with creating a campus magazine.
“I fell in love with publishing, and especially story telling through the medium of journalism,” she recalled.
She then spent a semester in Spain, and upon return stateside, enrolled at Palomar College, and ultimately completed her undergraduate degree at UC Riverside. It was at Palomar that she stayed busy in radio and journalism. “We had an award-winning talk show that we did at the campus radio station,” she boasted, which propelled her to major in media and cultural studies. She also did a lot of sideline writing for sports teams, a gig she found challenging because of being female.
Shortly after graduating she landed a job writing for controversial celebrity blogger Perez Hilton. As part of a staff that reached 20 persons, they wrote up to a dozen pieces each day, and then expanded into social media, all under the guise of being Mr. Hilton.
“I always had a really good relationship with him. I joined right after he decided he wasn’t going to be mean to people,” she laughed. But because it was a west coast job, it was a very high stress occupation.
Saar and her colleagues worked at Perez’ house in Beverly Hills, which was once owned by Latoya Jackson. She found it to be the creative outlet she needed, even though she was emulating another person. “I think it’s a lot easier to go to a silly place in your mind. It was my favorite job I ever had,” she continued. “Every day was like some new fresh hell you had to deal with, and you never knew what was going to happen.”
But being a ghost writer was not all that hard for Saar. “I think it is interesting in that it is not very different from writing for other companies. Every single place has a style guide. We just had to sound like him and use words he would say.”
Of course, Perez got all of the credit for his blogs, as well as legitimately helping launch the careers of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. In spite of this, Saar regards this job as a highlight of her young career.
Life in LA is not cheap, though, and although Saar received a salary that was good for her field, it was still low for such an expensive urban area. She thus moonlighted by writing for a dozen websites, writing 500 words at a time for a meager $5, and wrote pro bono for Bleacher Report.
“But at some point I realized I wasn’t doing the writing that makes me happy, which is storytelling. So I decided to just start writing a story.” This story became her fist book, Stalker, which she self-published at Amazon in 2014. She has followed up with The Woods Are Calling (2015) and Attack (2021). In the process, she has learned a wealth of knowledge about self-publishing, as well as the pros and cons of doing so with Amazon. still, in spite of limitations, she is a strong advocate for their self-publish model, because she was able to do it with zero dollars.
“It’s cheaper, especially if you don’t have money. I still encourage writers who have a book and just want to get it out there,” she added.
Today, she loves her job at Capital Group. “It is really noble to help investors feel more empowered about their money. I could not love this company more,” she waxed poetic. She is able to leverage her writing skills in a different way, but at the same time, wishes to further her career as an author. To that end, she has spent considerable time studying various aspects of being a successful author, and has landed on the Cozy Mysteries sub-genre of crime fiction. She is now halfway into a series of novels she will publish all at once.
Cozy Mystery fans are prolific readers, plowing through up to 10 books a month. “It’s a good genre if you want to be a prolific successful author,” she noted.
After working for 10 years, she realized that a lot of women in her field had an MBA, and she knew it was time to return to her studies. “West Texas A&M checked all of my boxes,” Saar said. “I wanted something that was online, something that catered to working people who could not afford to quit to go to school.”
It was the reviews, though, that helped cinch the deal. “I am really happy with my choice,” she said with a smile.
The rigor of the classes piques her curiosities in new ways. “I really appreciate that the professors bring so much passion to their classes that at the end, I’m thinking, maybe I want to change my whole life!”
Armed with a solid understanding of business, she is now able to be even more effective in communicating with Capital’s clients.
Regardless of whether you are just out of school or 10 years into your career, you are definitely at a good place to do it. She mentioned her Statistics and Finance classes as being particularly valuable. “Even learning things like standard deviations has been immensely helpful,” she joked.
While she agrees that starting your MBA straight out of college is fine, it’s actually easier to do so 10 or more years into your career, because you know a lot more. “Just do it,” she concludes.
Spoken like a person who could probably write a book about it, but managed to condense it into one short sentence.
By Nick Gerlich
For more information about Graduate Programs in the Engler College of Business, contact COBGrad@wtamu.edu or 806-651-2500.