I’d always dreamt of being a news reporter. I’d grown up in a household that watched every single news bulletin throughout the day. I was obsessed with the Today programme, Channel 4 News, News at 10...But how to get there…?
Well I thought I’d think about that while `finding myself’ backpacking around India after university. But first I needed some funds. So I got what I considered to be a temp-job at a small, specialist financial PR company. I was lucky enough to have a wonderful boss who taught me how to write articles for trade magazines on behalf of my clients…Structured Finance International, World Coal, Petroleum Review…basically if it’s been on `Have I Got News For You’ I may well have written for it! Perhaps not the sexiest of subject matter, but I loved learning to write. So farewell India dreams – I did a two week holiday instead – hello permanent job.
Then it was all about timing. And for me, it was the financial crisis. My PR firm was particularly focused on the debt markets and the world was in the midst of an almighty bubble. I could see something was brewing in the capital markets – I was writing about these huge debt-laden deals day-in, day-out and my clients were sounding the alarm bells. I wanted to be closer to the action.
So, I started emailing a well-known print journalist who had just made his leap into TV. He’d just moved to the BBC and was focused on the private equity boom at the time. I began sending him my thoughts – with an oh-so-subtle CV attached – and asking if there was any work experience available. To him I owe a HUGE amount. He passed on my correspondence to his boss. Next thing I know, I am formerly applying for an internship at the BBC Business & Economics unit, and to my elation get the position at the end of 2007.
Moving from an internship to Bloomberg TV
Armed with this experience, I thought I’d try my luck at looking directly for a job in journalism, rather than taking time out to do a post-graduate journalism course. And along came Bloomberg and a position as a loans correspondent – niche, but exactly where my expertise lay. After nine (!!) interviews I got the role and started the week before Lehman Brother’s collapsed…errrr…Now that was a baptism of fire! The worst financial crisis since World War I. I moved around roles, covering the debt markets and when Greece descended into chaos I started to appear as a guest on Bloomberg TV.
I had been looking longingly at the TV unit since joining Bloomberg, and despite a horrific first attempt, I became a regular. And now another person to thank – a senior producer who took me under his wing. He mentored me, gave me feedback and when a job opening came in the TV unit, he pushed me to apply. I needed no asking – I jumped at the chance.
And there we have it. Four years on and I pinch myself. I help present our morning shows, interview industry leaders, report on the latest sexy start-up, M&A deal or imploding business. The caveat – the hours. As I write I am on my second coffee of the day after a 2:30am wake-up call. But that’s morning programming for you.
Advice for others?
I wish I could say I had the secret sauce for getting into broadcast journalism, a well strategized plan to pass on….alas not. I carved a rather unusual route – avoiding a post-graduate course that is often a great launchpad for a career in broadcast journalism.
All I can personally advise is, first, set your sights on where it is you want to get – whatever the career path might be. That’s the really hard bit. Then seek a great mentor. And crucially, love to learn. I have had a lot of luck in my timing, but loving to learn, asking for guidance from those I admire and putting in the hours is what has helped me open the door into broadcasting journalism. To progress, I’ve got to learn, got to improve – it never stops.
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