BBC broad­caster Mishal Hu­sain has in­ter­viewed ev­ery­one from Malala to Boris John­son, and was Prince Harry’s choice to con­duct his en­gage­ment in­ter­view with Meghan Markle. As she launches a new ca­reer guide, she shares what she’s learned...


Re­mem­ber, suc­cess isn’t in­nate

Of­ten, we look at suc­cess­ful peo­ple and be­lieve they were born with a par­tic­u­lar skill set, with­out think­ing about how long they’ve been hon­ing their craft. I want to de­mys­tify that be­cause it’s not the case. I don’t think the cult of the ‘su­per­woman’ does any­one any favours. In the last few decades, women have bro­ken so many glass ceil­ings, but we still have un­der­rep­re­sen­ta­tion to deal with, and need every tool in the box to tackle that. Those tools come from shar­ing our knowl­edge and I’ve per­son­ally ben­e­fited from other women’s help and in­sight in my ca­reer. Skills like how to pitch or ne­go­ti­ate are tricky – you don’t get to do them of­ten, so it’s hard to build up the ex­pe­ri­ence that en­ables you to get bet­ter. This is why we need to share what we’ve learned with one another.

Learn from mis­takes, but don’t dwell on them

I’m very self- crit­i­cal and I’m never go­ing to be the kind of per­son to think, ‘Oh well, that didn’t go well,’ and not give it a sec­ond thought. I will al­ways give it a sec­ond thought. My chal­lenge is to make sure I have that con­ver­sa­tion with my­self in the most con­struc­tive way pos­si­ble, and

guard against dwelling on things for too long in a dis­pro­por­tion­ate way. Ac­cept there will be times that things didn’t go the way you ex­pected. You don’t want such a thick skin that you don’t take lessons on-board, but the trap you must avoid is los­ing your nerve for the fu­ture. Reg­is­ter what’s hap­pened, fig­ure out what needs to be learned and then turn the page. It will hap­pen at every stage of your ca­reer, but it does get eas­ier.

know that ev­ery­one gets ner­vous

I in­ter­view a lot of politi­cians, but the Meghan and Harry in­ter­view was a very dif­fer­ent kind of mo­ment. I had to work out not only what I wanted to ask, but how I wanted to ask it. Did I feel ner­vous? Def­i­nitely. I get ner­vous all the time and I’d be wor­ried if I wasn’t. But if some­thing im­por­tant is go­ing to hap­pen, you have to rise to the oc­ca­sion and I need nerves to chan­nel that: they help me think fast and on my feet. When­ever I go into schools, it’s one of the most fre­quently asked ques­tions, and I al­ways em­pha­sise that nerves are a nec­es­sary part of per­for­mance rather than some­thing to dread.

re­sist the urge for per­fec­tion

I’ve been at the BBC for 20 years and a jour­nal­ist for 22. When I look back at how I used to work five or 10 years ago, I was a lot more of a per­fec­tion­ist. Now, be­cause of the hours I work, it’s of­ten a real race against time to get ev­ery­thing done – I’ll ar­rive at work and find a stack of briefs on my desk and a guest wait­ing in the US to speak to me at 4.15am, with only two hours to do it all. It means I haven’t got a minute to lose. But it’s been a re­ally good ex­er­cise for me be­cause I’ve had to stop ag­o­nis­ing over every word and it’s made me a far bet­ter jour­nal­ist.

Don’t make De­ci­sions about the fu­ture un­til you’re there

I’m con­scious I’ve been very for­tu­nate in that I’ve had an in­come level that has al­lowed me to af­ford the child­care I’ve needed, but as a work­ing mother it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that things change, fre­quently. At the begin­ning, I had three chil­dren un­der two. I thought, ‘How can I go back to work? Who is go­ing to look af­ter them?’ But be­cause I took it step by step, it worked. I wor­ried about do­ing in­ter­na­tional travel with work, but it hap­pened. So don’t write off what your ca­reer could be based on your fam­ily life or one par­tic­u­lar mo­ment. Try and take a longer-term view, pace your­self and think, ‘I’m not say­ing “never”, I’m say­ing “not right now”. ‘ The Skills: From First Job To Dream Job What Every Woman Needs to Know’, is out 6 Septem­ber (£16.99, Fourth Es­tate)

i get ner­vous all the time – i’d be wor­ried if i wasn’t

prince harry hand­picked mishal to do his and meghan’s post- en­gage­ment in­ter­view

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