CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo was the commencement speaker last week at NYU’s Stern School of Business, and she recounted her first big break when she left CNN for CNBC.
I remember I worked as an intern for no money the whole summer after the internship ended and finally was offered a job as a production assistant in business newsin 1989. It was there that I learned firsthand how to cover a live news event in real time. It was 1990 and CNN was making history covering the first Gulf War literally as it was happening. War reporter Bernard Shaw reported from under the bed while bombs were going off in Baghdad. The markets were moving, oil prices were trading wildly and I found myself in the middle of this history making moment at CNN Business News. This training would help me later cover the global markets that move wildly in real time.
I worked hard at CNN. I knew that hard work is one of the secrets to succeeding because there are no short cuts. And I rose through the ranks as writer, producer and assignment editor. Then five years later, my boss wanted to restructure the assignment desk and promote me to a desk job. I knew in my heart what I was good at and what I loved: being in the field, being in the middle of the action and not at a desk. So, I reluctantly took the promotion but knew I had to leave CNN … that I had hit a ceiling. I put a tape together and sent it to CNBC.
CNBC hired me as an on air reporter in 1993. Now I would not only write and produce my reports, but would present them as well. So, I set up a meeting with my boss Lou Dobbs to tell him I was leaving, and he said to me, “Maria, you are making the biggest mistake of your career.” I understood what he was saying. To him, CNN was the best place for me. But I had to follow my heart, and I had to have the courage to leave and know that if it didn’t work out, I would brush off my shoes and try again. Courage is critical.