Lucy Kellaway: My Life In Media

"Twenty-three years in the media leaves you unfit for proper work"

Lucy Kellaway is the Financial Times' management columnist. For the past 10 years her weekly column has poked fun at fads and jargon. In her 20 years at the FT, she has been energy correspondent, Brussels correspondent and interviewer. She has won various prizes including the British Press Awards Columnist of the Year 2006. Kellaway was born in London in 1959 and is married to David Goodhart, founder and editor of Prospect magazine. They have four children.

So what inspired you to embark on a career in the media?

I was an unhappy refugee from a merchant bank with a vague idea that I might prefer writing to currency dealing. So I swapped an enormous salary for a pittance in the grotty hellhole that was the Investors Chronicle. It turned out to be a very sound deal.

When you were 15, which newspaper did your family get, and did you read it?

We used to alternate between The Times and The Guardian, and I tried to read them but I found them boring and puzzling and preferred books instead. I still much prefer books, which is why I'll never be a proper journalist.

What were you favourite TV programmes?

No contest: I loved Crossroads. By 15 I was old enough to know it was rubbish and watch it ironically.

Describe your job

I occupy the extreme low-brow end of the FT, writing three columns: one about office life, management fads and other workplace ephemera; a satirical fictional column about a menopausal male manager called Martin Lukes and more recently I have reinvented myself as an office agony aunt.

What media do you turn to first thing in the morning?

I turn first to the FT, partly through necessity, habit and preference but also because after 21 years it is has become a sort of flesh-coloured appendage. We get a lot of newspapers at home, and familiarity breeds if not contempt then boredom. I always hanker after the ones we don't get. Which means the Telegraph is my favourite at the moment.

Do you consult any media sources during the working day?

As I make up most of the things I write about I exist in a bubble of ignorance. I do check Google, Factiva and ft.com occasionally.

What is the best thing about your job?

Chatting. And the fact that I can write about whatever I like.

And the worst?

Chatting. (I'm always behind with my work) And the fact that I can write about whatever I like - which is terrible when the cupboard is bare of ideas.

How do you feel you influence the media?

My influence is entirely negative. I have campaigned against business jargon for a decade, and far from getting better it has got worse. Martin Lukes has done a lot of harm too: he is a satirical character whose dreadful antics are always being blamed for copycat outrages in the real world.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

A feature I wrote many years ago examining the sartorial taste of various business leaders was plagiarised almost word for word in the Daily Star. To stretch from the FT all the way down to the bottom seemed quite something.

And what's your most embarrassing moment?

Writing a mean and sarky email about a previous editor of the FT and sending it to him by mistake.

At home, what do you tune in to?

Radio 4 - Today, The World Tonight and Desert Island Discs. Endless pop channels, if my daughters have their hands on the dial.

What is your Sunday paper, and do you have a favourite magazine?

I think we get The Sunday Telegraph, The Sunday Times and The Observer, but I don't even glance at them. My husband is the founder and editor of Prospect, the current affairs magazine. Whenever I summon the effort to read it I am always reminded of how brilliant it is, and make a promise to read it more often.

Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire

It is the same ambition I have every week. To write with freshness. This, I find, is easier said than done.

If you didn't work in the media what would you do?

Twenty-three years in the media leaves you unfit for proper work.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

Chris Tarrant. He hosts that tedious formulaic show with such merry conviction that one is inclined to believe that it's for real.

'Martin Lukes: Who Moved My BlackBerry?' by Lucy Kellaway, price £7.99

The cv

1983 Joins Investors Chronicle

1985 Moves to the Financial Times as companies reporter

1986 Appointed the FT's oil correspondent

1988 Made a Lex columnist

1989 Moves to Brussels as the FT's correspondent

1992 Returns to London as a feature writer

1994 Becomes a columnist and interviewer

1999 Invents the Martin Lukes column, which is turned into a book in 2005, and publishes Sense and Nonsense in the Office

2006 Wins Columnist of the Year at the British Press Awards

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Brand Marketing Manager - Essex - £45,000 + £5000 car allowance

£40000 - £45000 per annum + car allowance: Ashdown Group: Senior Brand Manager...

Guru Careers: .NET Developer /.NET Software Developer

£26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a .NET Developer /.NET Software ...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing Exec (SEO / PPC)

£18 - 24k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing...

Guru Careers: Technical Operations Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Technical Ope...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all