Fatou joined Breakwater Strategy this summer via the strategy and communications firm Wachsman, where she worked as an associate advising blockchain technology, fintech, and venture capital clients. Fatou is also an Adjunct Professor at Howard University Cathy Hughes School of Communications Annenberg Honors Program, instructing students on communication research topics such as social identity, media, economics, race, and gender.
For the next installation in our “On the Record” series, we talked with Fatou about her job, her life outside of Breakwater, and her experience living abroad at the start of the pandemic.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about what you do?
People assume that I’m just a ghostwriter, when in reality, I do full gamut of writing, editing, proofreading, researching, and so much more. I’ve drafted text messages, emails, press releases, blogs, social media copy, and captions. I’ve edited books, research papers, film scripts, resumes, and cover letters – just about any written copy text. And now I’ve researched topics on geopolitics, media, fintech, cryptocurrency, asset management, and regional studies. Working across so many industries that intersect with communications like technology, finance, non-profit work, fashion, international relations, etc., allows me to have a full breadth of experience with many different individuals.
So that’s the more complicated explanation of the work you do, but if you had to explain it to 10-year-old you, what would you say?
“Hey Fatou! You’re doing exactly what you’ve always done: talk too much, read a lot, and write even more. But now, you don’t get in trouble for talking too much; instead, you get paid to give people advice on their communications strategy for their businesses.”
In addition to the great work you do at Breakwater, you are an adjunct professor at Howard University! If you could instill just one lesson on your students, what would it be?
Keep the faith – life is difficult and it only gets harder, but if you stay true to who you are, believe in yourself and help others, you’ll do just fine and exceed your expectations.
Aside from teaching, Is there an experience that you’ve had outside of work that you feel helped you grow as a leader?
Living in Italy from 2019 to 2020 pushed me to be a better student, servant leader, and friend. I was there from September until the beginning of the pandemic, so when it came down to life changes, I experienced many encounters that I never imagined. Having to live in a country where I didn’t speak the primary language made me step outside of my comfort zone. The stares were probably the most difficult part of living there as a Black woman but it forced me to embrace my true self and allowed me to speak up for myself. Leaving the country when COVID-19 hit most areas of Italy was extremely difficult. I had to immediately pack my belongings, leave my home and find a flight back to the states. While I don’t miss taking International Monetary Theory at 2:00 in the morning, I do miss the grind of working around the clock to ensure I graduated with my masters on time. After this experience, I know I’m more than capable of living anywhere I choose to in this world, and I feel motivated to encourage others to travel.
What are you reading right now?
I’m currently reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.
Fatou holds an MA in International Relations with a focus on International Economics and African Studies and a bachelor’s degree in Strategic, Legal, and Management Communication from Howard University.