Our speakers offer their insight on how to be fearless—in business and in life.
Elisabeth Leamy, consumer correspondent for ABC News’ “Good Morning America”
What advancements have you seen women make in your industry in the last few years?
“It’s remarkable! There are now more women than men working at the Washington bureau of ABC News where I work. When I started in the field 20 years ago, that was not the case. I know that my journalism school, the Medill School at Northwestern University, routinely graduates classes that are majority women. I think that the same gift for articulation that I see in my 4-year-old daughter is true of many women, so we are taking over fields like journalism that are all about expressing yourself well.”
What do you see as the greatest challenge to women in your field?
“Women AND men in journalism are being asked to do more with less. Technological advances are freeing us but also burdening us with more responsibilities. Rather than just specialize in digging up fresh information and presenting it well, I now need more technical skills. I’ve appeared on live national TV via a Skype feed that I set up myself in my backyard! It’s wild!”
What are your tips for achieving work-life balance?
“Work-life WHAT? Kidding! If you work for a company, I suggest stealing a little time back for yourself and your family when you can. ABC is wonderful about this. I do work 18 hour days when I’m hot in pursuit of an important story, but other times I make the commitment to chaperone my daughter’s field trip or leave a little early on a slow day and accomplish things for myself. If you demonstrate to your employer that you will get the work done and done well, you can carve out opportunities to slip away.”
What is your favorite forum for networking and making authentic connections with other professional women?
“I don’t just network with women! That would be limiting. Actually, my biggest source of professional contacts (other than at work itself) has been at my daughter’s day care center. We’re all in the same boat, with families in which both parents work. And many of the other parents have turned out to be great professional and personal resources for me. Who knew?!”
What advice do you give to young women just starting their careers?
“Make yourself indispensable. Learn how to do anything and everything that your organization needs and you will never be out of work.”
Do you have a mentor or a sponsor, or are you a mentor to other professional women? What is the greatest benefit you’ve received from this relationship?
“I love mentoring the interns who troop through ABC every quarter. Some are weak, but others are stellar. I will give hours and hours of my time to the good ones who are pursuing journalism for all the noble reasons they call it the “Fourth Estate.” My time is well spent when I see these young people flourish. Plus, on grumpy days, it’s a fun reminder that I know my stuff and have come a long way from my own hard scrabbling, resume-stretching days!”
What is the most fearless thing you have done professionally and/or personally and what did you gain from that experience?
“After college I moved to London with no job and no place to live. Within a week I had a cute row house to share with a posse of other young people and a job as a peon at ABC News. That job didn’t lead to the one I currently hold. There were lots of side trips in between. What I really gained was that amazing perspective you get when you live in another country: the sense that your own problems really can’t be so bad when people somewhere else are stewing about other concerns altogether.”
Massachusetts Conference for Women speaker Elisabeth Leamy is the consumer correspondent for ABC News’ “Good Morning America” and is the author of “The Savvy Consumer” and “SAVE BIG.” Leamy has received 13 Emmy Awards and four Edward R. Murrow Awards. www.elisabethleamy.com