Kerry Benson ’87: Thriving creatively in the advertising industry

Kerry Benson

Kerry Benson The best advice Kerry (Amaral) Benson ’87 ever received came during her first job. “Don’t ever bring me a problem without thinking about the solution,” Benson recalls hearing from the head of her department at one of New England’s leading ad agencies. “She was frustrated that I had the audacity to walk into her office and waste her time with a problem without ideas on how to solve it. I never forgot it and have passed it along to many others.”

Benson learned the lesson well and has forged an exceptional career in the world of advertising – where problem solving is both expected and prized. She has worked with top national clients in financial, telecommunications, insurance, fashion, cosmetics, and food industries. For more than a decade she has been a leader at Hill Holliday, the 13 th largest advertising agency in the U.S. with 650 employees and offices in Boston and New York City.

“Check your ego and do what’s right for the business, not your personal gain."

As executive vice president and managing director, Benson successfully combines business acumen with creative ingenuity to direct integration and talent strategies agency-wide. She also oversees several national accounts, including Bank of America, LG and Liberty Mutual.  At Hill Holliday, she’s helped develop award-winning campaigns including work for Dunkin’ Donuts and Liberty Mutual’s long-running Responsibility. What’s your policy? campaign.

In a fiercely competitive industry, Benson says leadership must “make people feel comfortable, not on-guard. Leaders find ways to motivate people. Good leaders inspire people to think creatively.”   

Benson’s perspective on how to be successful is straightforward.  “Always keep the company’s best interests at heart,” she advises. “Check your ego and do what’s right for the business, not your personal gain.  Even if you can’t see the value in doing so right away, it will pay off in the long run.”

Benson encourages college graduates entering the workforce to “take the long view. Be patient. You may feel like you’re not moving ahead fast enough, but stick with it and you’re likely to make up time later on.  The best career paths aren’t always linear.”

“Make every experience count,” she continues, echoing that early lesson. “Eventually your experiences, even the bad ones, will add up to a unique perspective that only you can provide. Don’t be afraid to take risks and make mistakes.”

Bryant’s alumni network is 45,000 strong – accomplished men and women who influence, lead, and innovate in their professions, industries, and communities around the globe. They remain engaged with the University by sharing their expertise with students and faculty during campus visits and through the career center network, participating in alumni activities, and making Bryant a priority for their philanthropy.