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Ingrid Fuary-Wagner (Fr 2006)

Ingrid is a Reporter at the Australian Financial Review and moderated the Industry Panel at the Young Alumni Networking Breakfast in August this year. She shares with us her professional achievements as well as memories from her time at College.

Why did you decide to reside at St Andrew’s College?

With the somewhat daunting prospect of moving to a different city (I’m from Canberra), I was attracted to the tight-knit community with its serious academic culture and a strong focus on sport, and was looking forward to being able to bond with other out of towners from around the country.

What was your favourite part/what are your best memories about St Andrew’s College?

Definitely the enduring friendships I made along the way. Staying up all night in first year making models of houses (I initially studied architecture) and being able to knock on a door down the hall at 3am when you run out of balsa glue, or you’re trying to get your head around structural loads – it’s a relief to know that you’re not in the deep end all alone. The highly-contested intercol basketball competition was also a highlight (although the poorly-attended morning sprint sessions were not appreciated) particularly in fresher year when, despite being warned that Wesley had assembled its best team ever, we managed to win and help take home the Rosebowl for the first time. And the unparalleled level of enthusiasm from a blurry sea of blue and white cheering you on from the sidelines while you’re trying not to air-ball it, is a magical feeling.

Why did you decide to study journalism?

After my first year of studying architecture, I realised that I was not interested in being a practitioner and would prefer instead to write about the aesthetics of good design. In retrospect, journalism was a better fit. English had always been my best subject at school, and as a very young child I would tell fantasy stories to the family, which my dutiful mother would write down for me and which I would then illustrate. Moreover, I’ve always been pretty inquisitive – I hate talking about myself but love asking questions and listening to other people’s stories.

What is it like being a Reporter? What are some of the pros and maybe even cons of your role

It’s great! It’s a very satisfying job. I’m constantly learning about new topics, meeting and building relationships with contacts and at the end of every day you have something tangible to show for your hard day’s work. It can be stressful though. You have daily deadlines and I might have to write several stories in one day. Editors are relying on you to file your stories on time and have allocated space in the newspaper so you can’t just have an ‘off’ day or put off a hard task. People may also not like the story you’ve written so you have to develop a thick skin. What I love, especially about the Financial Review, is the chance to work across different sections of the publication – so I can write hard news stories about, say, the property downturn, or a company floating on the ASX, as well as get my creativity fix by writing a feature about design or travel or a profile piece for the magazine.

What does a day in your life look like? 

7am – Read the news in bed, send my editor a few story ideas for the day and week (on a Monday morning).

9am – Head into the city to meet contacts for a coffee and talk about what’s happening in the industry – any trends to keep an eye on or big deals that might have flown under the radar. Always taking copious notes for further research when I get back to my desk.

11am – I’m back in the office and starting to research and write stories. It could vary between one and four a day depending on how much news there is and how many pages we have been allocated in the paper for the next day (it all depends on how much advertising there is). Once a week, at this time, I dial in for an interstate phone conference  which I have with the rest of my team (half of them are in Melbourne) to discuss ideas coming up, stories we can collaborate on and give feedback on the week that has been, from our best exclusives to stories we may have missed. Throughout the day, I’m constantly checking emails and wading through lots of PR pitches and keeping an eye on business and political news across multiple websites throughout the day.

1pm – No proper nor fixed lunch time. If I have time, I’ll leave the office and get something from a cafe nearby otherwise I’ll get a takeaway meal from the cafeteria downstairs and eat at my desk. Check in with my editor and make sure he knows the angle of my stories so he can pitch them in the afternoon at the editorial meeting, so that they might get a good run on page 1 or at the top of the homepage.

3pm – Still writing! Find a quiet room to conduct any last minute interviews by phone. I also make sure I’ve ordered any graphics from the data team if I need graphs etc. to accompany any of my stories or given the photographer instructions for a photo assignment. Probably time for another flat white or tea from the kitchen.

6:30pm – Final chance to edit my copy with our print deadline approaching but all stories have normally been filed and laid out on the pages, so it’s time to relax. Panic if a story falls through and you need to find a quick replacement (although this is rare).

7pm – Get the light rail home and if I’m feeling energetic put on a podcast and head to the gym.

8pm – Make some dinner and put on the latest TV series I’m binge watching – at the moment it’s Succession – unless it’s a Monday and then it’s a night of ABC starting with 7.30, 4 Corners, Media Watch and Q&A.

11pm – scroll through Twitter, Instagram and read some more news before turning off the lights and doing it all again tomorrow!

What has been your favourite project to work on in your career thus far and why?

I have a few highlights in terms of some of the subjects I have interviewed and written about including architect Sir David Chipperfield, billionaire hotelier Justin Hemmes, and Tumblr founder David Karp just after he had just sold the platform to Yahoo for $1.1 billion.

Leading the federal budget coverage for Domain two years ago when I was the news editor there was also a highlight. I took a small team to Canberra for the budget lock-up to write about property-related policies. It was intense with a lot of time pressure but a great experience and very rewarding.

What is your biggest achievement to date(this could be personally, professionally or otherwise)?

The one freshest in my mind is of me moderating a panel of some of the country’s top property executives in front of an audience of about 350 people at the recent AFR Property Summit. My passion for public speaking peaked at about age 12, but despite some nerves it worked out well.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Who knows! After being an editor and manager in my last job I’ve really relished going back to reporting and just focusing on my own stories. But perhaps that’ll change and I might crave a managerial role at the newspaper.

Any words of advice for current students?

It’s important to have career goals but be flexible and don’t stress if things don’t go to plan. I didn’t think I would be working for the Financial Review when I started studying journalism but my goals have changed along the way and I’m glad it’s worked out that way.

Also, don’t despair if you don’t get a job you want through the standard pathway, because opportunities will always present themselves and there might be an unexpected route to get to where you want to be.

Don’t compete with your peers to always be the busiest or most stressed person out there – it’s not an achievement but maintaining a work life balance is!