What was your first ever job?
I had a Saturday job at Selfridges for a chunk of my time at university – at least until one of the directors saw me trying to staple a colleague to the counter by his tie. My first full-time job was as a trainee solicitor at one of the big City law firms – another career to which I may not have been wholly suited.
Why did you get into the world of media?
Show me someone who claims they lay in their cot as a baby dreaming of being a financial journalist and I will show you a liar. For my part, I jumped out of a plane for charity – I was wearing a parachute – and wrote up the experience for the law firm’s in-house magazine. I ended up editing the mag and, if you can believe this, found it much more interesting than the intricacies of banking law. When my not-so-promising legal career became a tiny casualty of the IRA blowing up my office in 1993, a change of direction seemed like a good idea – and, 25 years later, here we are.
What does your current role entail?
When I was editorial director towards the end of my first stint at Incisive (2000-2008), I tried to get all our editors to think of themselves as ‘brand ambassadors’ – and, in the two years since I have been back, it has seemed only right to try and follow my own advice. Yes, I know it is an awful phrase but it does convey the important and multi-faceted role that editors (should) have in this business, propelling forward their titles online, in print, at events and with associated projects, such as research and content – both to our audiences and the good, good folk who fund us.
What’s the favourite part of your current role?
The variety (see previous answer). I’d be lying if I said every day of the last two years had been a wholly uplifting and positive experience but, typing this, I realise I have never once been bored.
If you could go to one industry event this year, which would you choose?
Now having two small children, who can be very loud, very early in the morning, industry events do not quite hold the appeal they used to. That said, Professional Adviser’s all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza ‘PA360’ (Director: Helen Danzey; Producer: Andrew O’Kelly), where we are looking to attract 500 financial advisers to an all-day event in London on 24 April, is looming large in both my diary and my consciousness.
If you could ban one buzzword or piece of jargon what would it be?
As a journalist, it’s in my job description to believe all jargon should be avoided but no word should ever be banned.
What is the most exciting thing about your job?
Admitting to being excited about any aspect of my job would seriously compromise the aura of world-weary experience I have attempted to build up over the last 20-odd years. Plus no-one who knew me would believe me. So instead I will say what I have been most proud of are the journalists I played a part in inflicting on Her Majesty’s financial services industry in the decade or so before I went freelance in 2008. Now I’m back managing people as well as words, I would like to hope the process has begun all over again.
What’s the best book you have ever read?
I wish I could have written Vernon God Little although my all-time favourite is Catch-22. Yossarian is one of my heroes though, looking back at my career, I probably could have chosen a better role model than someone who is constantly perplexed by the logic and decisions of those higher up the chain of command.
And favourite film?
I’d love to be able to offer an impressively deep and meaningful answer but I figure my favourite film has to be the one I have seen the most times. And that – by a truly disturbing distance – is Jaws. Unlike Catch-22, I do not think you can read too much into this choice although, when looking at so many of the investment, pensions and other financial issues facing this country, I often find myself thinking: “We’re going to need a bigger boat.”
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Honestly? Nothing springs to mind, which suggests I have always been more one for offering advice than taking it. For example, to anyone starting out in financial journalism – don’t treat it as a nine-to-five job but revel in the things you will learn, the people you will meet and whatever extra-curricular activities the ever-burgeoning compliance sector still allows. Or as I have been known to tell my team more succinctly: “You’re not paid enough not to have fun.”