Corner Office Q&A: Margaret Brennan, Bloomberg TV Anchor
9:32 am, December 9th | by Hillary Reinsberg
While we spend a lot of time writing about powerful women, we also like to hear from those women, in their own words. In today’s Q&A, we talked with Margaret Brennan, a reporter and anchor for Bloomberg TV. Her show, “InBusiness with Margaret Brennan” airs at 10 a.m., by which point, she says, she’s getting ready for her second extra large coffee. Though her show airs from New York, she’s very much a global reporter who speaks Arabic and would be happy to school you on the European debt crisis.
My show – called “InBusiness with Margaret Brennan” – is a daily snapshot of the top financial issues on Wall Street, Main Street, K Street and the global markets.
I joined Bloomberg TV in July 2009 as an anchor after spending 7 years as a reporter and before than a producer at CNBC. I studied Foreign Affairs and Middle East studies at the University of Virginia and minored in Arabic language. I thought that I’d work in diplomacy but ended up in TV after interning at CNN one summer.
I joined TV news because I like being in the middle of the world as it is changing. For me, financial news is more than decimal points and earnings reports. To paraphrase Sec. Clinton, economic strength is more of a determination of influence than military might in today’s world. In this country the election will be decided on whether Americans have jobs and opportunity. And outside the U.S., arguably the fate of 500 million Europeans and the rest of the global economy rests on the shoulders of two women: Germany’s Angela Merkel and the IMF’s Christine Lagarde. All of these narratives and currents excite me. Those are the ideas that get me excited every day.
Before noon, you’ve already…
I’m up at 5 to feed my 3.5 month old puppy, answer emails and get ready for work. By 6:15 AM or so I’m at Bloomberg Television’s headquarters.
I read the major newspapers to see what’s happened overnight and I talk to my producers about the stories that I’d like to have on the program. I look over notes on my guests while I’m sitting in hair and makeup at 6: 45 am. By 8:00 am, I’m in the car on the way down to the New York Stock Exchange. I spend the commute listening to the radio, reading emails and occasionally watch Bloomberg TV on my iPad so that I don’t miss any breaking news.
When I get to the NYSE at 8: 30 am, I speak to traders, read up on the markets and plan my interviews until 9:15 or so. I join Tom Keene on Bloomberg Radio and I join Betty Liu on BTV at 9:30 am to ring the opening bell and report on what’s going to drive the morning session.
By 10am, we’re on live TV in 200 million households around the world… and if news breaks… well, we throw out the script and follow the news as it develops!
There’s a LOT of breaking news around this time…which is why I’m usually onto my second venti latte by 11:00 am. The pace calms down once 12 hits and the show ends. I hop back in the car and go back to the office to go to meetings and plan the next day.
What would you tell a young woman who wants your job someday?
I’d tell her that she shouldn’t want the “job” as much as she should want the work. If you just want to “be on TV”, don’t get into the news business. But if you’re a news junkie and curious about the world, you likely develop the stamina to keep up the pace and chase the story. You’ve got to be able to think on your feet and have the ability to connect the dots between what happens and why it ultimately matters.
I typically wear a suit or work-appropriate shirt and skirt or blouse and pants. TV is a visual medium and I’m mindful that the appearance is part of our business brand. Classic and elegant is the aim. After all, I’m reporting from the middle of a mainly male, busy trading floor and getting beamed into people’s places of work and homes. Your appearance shouldn’t be a distraction. My shoes are often where I get to show a little more of my young and fun side!
Women shouldn’t underestimate the value of …
What was the first thing you splurged on after making it big?
At age 26, when I got my first full-time reporting gig, I splurged and bought a couch and rented my own apartment. For years before that I had been in a hybrid producer/reporter role. Caught between the two roles, I had finally decided to quit and go to graduate school abroad. In order to save cash for school, I gave up my apartment for the summer and was crashing on my best friend’s couch. About a month after I gave notice, the newly-named network head called me and offered me the official ‘correspondent’ title. I thought that I had made it big.
If you weren’t in this career, what would you be doing?
I’ve thought a lot about that. There are a few things: possibly work in microfinance and development work; perhaps I’d be a writer…
When I was 22, my academic adviser in college told me to get my PhD and teach. Perhaps I’d be torturing college students somewhere?
For most of my academic career, I was fascinated with social movement theory. I wanted to work in policymaking and conflict resolution but I think that was when I had delusions of working in Aaron Sorkin’s version of the White House.
What’s the best advice anyone’s ever given you?
Describe your ideal retirement plans.
…By choice and surrounded by the family and friends that I love.