As we continue our Women of Business News series, part of Adweek’s annual Women’s Issue, we catch up with CNBC anchor Sara Eisen. Eisen wears multiple hats for the network. She is a co-anchor for CNBC Worldwide Exchange (5 – 6 a.m. ET), and a co-anchor for the 10 a.m. hour of Squawk on the Street. We headed out to CNBC World Headquarters this week to learn more about Eisen, who also happened to be the winner of the 2015 TVNewser NFL Survivor Pool.
TVNewser: Thanks for taking the time, Sara. Talk to us about your career path.
Eisen: During college, I took an internship at this startup website named ForexTV.com. It was a site dedicated to covering the foreign exchange market and currencies. I knew nothing about the markets or currencies, but they wanted to give me a shot at doing broadcasts for their website. The opportunity sounded cool, and I ended up learning everything about the markets and I became obsessed with currencies. But after a little while there, I realized that I didn’t really have the journalistic chops that I would need to pursue a career in journalism. I ended up getting my graduate degree in broadcast journalism from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. While there, I was able to report from all over Chicago. Medill helped get me an internship with Bloomberg TV in Hong Kong. I did behind-the-scenes production, writing and editing packages, and general production assistant work while there. I was in Hong Kong for about four months, and I got to travel around the region as well as to the Philippines where I reported on stories like the rice shortage, a significant event at the time.
I came back to New York and started working at Bloomberg full-time in 2008, right in the middle of the financial crisis. I was hired as a production assistant. I raised my hand everyday to contribute stories focusing on the dollar, which suddenly started surging again. One of my big breaks came when Bloomberg Radio gave me a shot at covering currencies. I would do a one-minute currency update every day on my own time. I did this while continuing to serve as a production assistant for TV. The markets were going crazy and Bloomberg eventually needed people who knew, lived and breathed the markets. After continuing to raise my hand, I finally got a shot to be on TV reporting on currencies.
From there, I broadened my horizons by covering more international stories. I traveled to Japan after the tsunami and I covered the nuclear crisis there for a week. That was a wild experience. I also covered the European debt crisis, heading to Brussels for meetings, which was really cool. Later, I anchored the morning show at Bloomberg and continued to expand my horizons in terms of what I covered and who I spoke to. About 2 1/2 years ago, I came to CNBC. This is a place I always felt I was meant to be.
TVNewser: Who is the most interesting person you’ve interviewed during your time at CNBC?
Eisen: Well, can I go with yesterday’s interview? Speaking with Phil Knight (Nike co-founder and Chairman) was certainly a highlight of my time at CNBC.
TVNewser: Do you have a dream interview?
Eisen: I have many dream interviews! A couple weeks ago, there was an event with the Fed chairmen, including Ben Bernanke, Janet Yellin, Paul Volcker and Alan Greenspan. Now THAT would be a dream assignment, just to be able to moderate a conversation with all of them. That’s the kind of stuff I live for. Another dream would be to interview all of the current, sitting central bankers. The Bank of Japan governor (Haruhiko Kuroda), the ECB president (Mario Draghi) and Janet Yellin. All of these people, including business leaders like Phil Knight, really get me going.
TVNewser: What are some of your hobbies outside of the office, when you’re off-camera?
Eisen: I have very little free time, but in the free time that I do have, my fiancé and I like to check out New York restaurants. I like to keep track of what’s new and what’s hot. I know it sounds nerdy, but news is truly a hobby of mine. I’m always following other networks and what’s happening on Twitter.
TVNewser: What are your go-to restaurants in N.Y.?
Eisen: I have so many! I love Santina. The food is great and it’s so fun. My favorite pizza place is Franny’s out in Park Slope. My favorite sushi restaurant is o ya. I love Japanese food!
TVNewser: Do you have any advice for young, female reporters who are looking to take that next step?
Eisen: The advice that I always give people is to stick with a beat. Develop an area of expertise. Even if it’s esoteric and niche (like currencies was for me), to always be able to have a beat to fall back on is important. Even if no one wants to hear about currencies on TV, it’s good to have something unique that you know more about than other people. Of course, you should always try to push yourself and expand your horizons in terms of what you cover and how you cover it, but it is important to have an area of expertise. Whether you’re an expert in education, business or really anything, when a story breaks, you want to be that person your superiors can rely on and turn to!