Reporting “From the Corner Office” at Fortune

While some people resist change, Susie Gharib runs toward it with open arms. As a business and financial news journalist for over 30 years, her longevity with prestigious media companies is balanced with career changes timed precisely with revolutionary shifts in the industry. From print, to television, to today’s digital landscape, Gharib, now a Senior Special Correspondent at Fortune, continues to be front and center in delivering financial and business news to an ever-growing audience – mainstream America.

“At one time, people thought business news was stodgy. Now it’s very cool,” said Gharib in a recent interview with The Suit, referring to an era when financial news on television was essentially nonexistent and print reigned supreme. But when alternative channels hit the airwaves that challenged the big three networks – NBC, CBS, and ABC – Gharib spotted opportunity.

In 1983, Gharib chose to leave what she called “a stable and predictable career” as a writer at Fortune magazine to enter the emerging world of cable TV. ESPN, a cable sports channel, launched an early morning live program called Business Times. Why would a sports channel air a business news program? According to Gharib, network executives figured they had a captive audience among sports fans – men with an interest in business.

“When I left Fortune to work at a cable television station, people thought I was crazy,” said Gharib explaining the reaction of her peers. “Most people didn’t have cable or know what it was. In those days, it was a new phenomenon to have reporters covering business news on TV.”

After ESPN, Gharib moved on to other networks including ABC, NBC, and CNBC. Then in 1998, she landed at the anchor desk for “Nightly Business Report” (NBR), the longest-running business news public television program. It was during her 16-year tenure as co-anchor at NBR that MarketWatch media columnist, Jon Friedman called Gharib, “the least-heralded TV business-news star around.” Her journalistic portfolio is filled with no-nonsense interviews and exclusives with corporate America’s top CEO’s, international heads of state, and top U.S. officials including Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Gharib recalled her experiences with both Presidents: “George Bush knew what he wanted to say and stayed very much on message. Bill Clinton was happy to talk forever,” she explained. In what was scheduled to be a ten minute interview with President Clinton ran well over 30 minutes as he thoroughly answered her questions and spent time posing for pictures with Gharib and her camera crew. Buddy, the First Family’s dog, even made an appearance. White House staffers positioned around the perimeter of the Roosevelt Room motioned to Gharib to wrap it up, but she followed the President’s lead. “Bill Clinton is a real talker, extremely intelligent, and articulate. I was so impressed with how he could answer my questions and he didn’t have a clue of what I was going to ask – very intelligent answers to complicated questions.”

Going Digital

As 2015 began, so did Gharib’s journey into a new era of doing what she does best – delivering current and relevant economic, financial, and business news. Having mastered print and television, she felt it was time once again to leave a comfortable and familiar post. As 2014 came to a close, Gharib announced that she was leaving NBR to take on the emerging world of digital news at Fortune – a full circle move taking her back to where she launched her career as a business journalist, but now with a new intensity.

“I am interviewing the top CEOs of corporate America, and I’m doing it for the web with a blue chip, powerful brand – Fortune magazine. Speaking with the higher echelons of the business world, I’m getting their take on what the Federal Reserve is doing about interest rates, and how they feel about the job market and about economic growth. I’m hearing it from the source – the people who are making these decisions every single day as opposed to analysts, economists, and market strategists,” Gharib asserted.

In addition to her role as senior special correspondent at Fortune, Gharib is also a contributor for NBR and CNBC delivering in-depth analysis on current topics. She identifies two major themes on the minds of consumers and CEOs alike: How fast is the U.S. economy going to grow, and if it is growing in a robust way, when will the Federal Reserve raise interest rates? Elaborating further she added, “What impact will that increase in interest rates have on consumer pocketbooks and their spending patterns, and what impact will higher interest rates have on companies in how much they spend and how much they hire?”

All the major business and financial news outlets are trying to develop an online delivery model capable of capturing a loyal audience. “I don’t think anybody has it figured out, so it is very exciting to be in this entrepreneurial world as a news person. I feel like I’m working at an 86-year-old start-up,” quipped Gharib. “There is very high energy from the staff that Fortune has hired to push into this digital space.”

Sharing an interesting perspective on the continuing rise in popularity of business news, Gharib contends that it is not about business – it’s about money.  “In this day and age, everybody has to take care of their own financial matters. You can’t count on a pension or on social security anymore, and if you have a 401(k), you have to know where the best place is to invest it, and the smartest ways to save for retirement. You also have to get savvy about how to pay for your healthcare – that’s another money issue,” she said.

Leadership Lessons

“My focus now is doing interviews with CEOs of the Fortune 500 to talk with them about the business news of the day on a very macro level, and also to talk to them about leadership lessons for a special series I’m doing for Fortune,” explained Gharib. “From the Corner Office,” published on, features Gharib’s new video series on leadership, a subject she is passionate about. 

“Everybody is talking about leadership, whether it’s in Washington or in corporate America, whether it’s in the media, or even in sports. It seems like the public is craving leaders with credibility. There have been so many disappointments from our leadership, whether it’s a politician, a business person, or an athlete. Here is an opportunity to talk about what the definition of leadership is and what makes a great leader,” said Gharib. The series is off to a running start as she has heard fascinating answers and stories about this topic from CEOs such as Cisco’s John Chambers, Ford’s Mark Fields, Principal Financial Group’s Larry Zimpleman, and Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffet.

Speaking of Buffet, every year Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. holds its annual shareholder meeting in Omaha. Buffet calls it “Woodstock for Capitalists.” “It is like no other shareholder meeting for any other company. It’s part annual meeting and part carnival,” said Gharib, adding that for six hours Buffet, along with long-time partner and Berkshire Vice Chairman, Charlie Munger, answer questions from shareholders about the stock market, interest rates, and investing. Other shareholders come from all over the world to ask about their local economies. And, then there are those bold enough to ask the two titans of finance, “How can I get rich like you?”

Though Gharib has attended Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting for several years and has interviewed Buffet many times, this year, she is looking forward to hearing his views on the economy, given that many of his companies touch the everyday lives of Americans. She will also mine his comments for exclusive nuggets of wisdom for her leadership video series. “I love what I’m doing. I’ve always enjoyed interviewing business leaders and newsmakers, but I just love what I’m doing with this new project with Fortune. It’s just fantastic,” she said.

“It’s a new frontier and there is a lot to learn and experiment with – it’s an exciting time for the news business. We are in for innovations and disruptions in the way we report the news and tell stories. It’s all evolving. I don’t know how it is all going to play out, but it is very exciting to be a part of this,” said Gharib.

When Gharib began her career, it coincided with the rise of the Women’s Movement in America. Society questioned whether women could be successful in the workplace and also have highly functional families. Gharib was determined to succeed at both. “I don’t know how one defines success, but I can say that my kids turned out great – both are physicians. They love me, they love their father, and they love each other. So I feel, to that extent, we have a really good family life,” said Gharib in a noticeably softer tone than when speaking of leadership, interest rates, and interviews with presidents.

“And, I am really pleased with all that I have accomplished professionally.”

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