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 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

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments