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21 Sep

Leading Women in Business News

Business news is the part of journalism that tracks, records, analyses and interprets the business, economic and financial activities and changes that take place in society. This area of journalism provides news and features about people, places and related to the business sector.

Historically, it has always been a field largely associated with males, as it requires hard skills and knowledge on Economics and business. However, we are seeing leading ladies on various mediums doing really well in this field and we thought, why not highlight their contributions.

Meet Nzinga Qunta.

Nzinga Qunta is an Australian-born, South African Business News anchor at the SABC. Born to a family of political activists and academics, it is no surprise that her career has turned out the way it has. She is a mother and recently added author to her many titles. She loves art, the outdoors, travel and interestingly, naps. 

Journalism and business news was not the initial career she set her sights on. She studied English Literature and Law at university, with the intention of becoming a lawyer. From a young age of 14, Qunta worked as a model and a television presenter, and that exposure to the broadcast industry sparked her interest in news and current affairs.

“It was a gradual move, or evolution rather. As much as I am not a journalist, I am a news anchor that focuses on business news on television and radio,” Qunta said.

You may have heard her on Power FM, Kaya FM and on SAFM’s Money Web.

Qunta’s big break came through auditions held by SABC News at the time.

“Based on my qualifications, I was invited to come and audition. I was working as a general news anchor before that and the switch was quite intimidating,” Qunta said.

“My editor at the time, Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki, took a chance on hiring me. But, I made sure I worked hard to ensure that I was able to understand what I was doing and talking about. It was important for me to fit in with the very clued up Economics desk at the SABC,” added Qunta.

She describes the journey as incredible, challenging and interesting, as well as having gained experience, knowledge and opportunities.

“I’ve interviewed Jack Ma, President Cyril Ramaphosa and heads of state from our continent, as well as business leaders from JSE listed companies and beyond. 

“Recently, I’ve sat on a world stage with global CEOs, Nobel Peace Prize winning economists, and heads of states moderating discussions at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2022.

Qunta prides herself in the work she does as an MC, and describes it as a privilege.

“I am trusted to host discussions that have the ability to inform and shape policy, which is an opportunity I value.”

“There’s a lot of reading before the event to prepare (and don’t get me started on sourcing an outfit with the client’s logo for each gig) and I enjoy this part of the work immensely,” says Qunta, detailing the preparation ahead of her role as an MC.

Despite the joy her career brings her, there are challenges that she faces.

“I think that the vast amount of information anyone in news has to consume on a daily basis can sometimes take a toll,” Qunta says.

Here are three things Nzinga Qunta wishes she knew earlier:

  1. Work out, run, go outdoors. You get good at your work by what you do outside of it as well. Exercise helps.
  2. Being yourself fully is an advantage in this space, or any.
  3. There are a few people working in this space, they are kind, helpful and not as intimidating as they look! 

Meet Heidi Giokos

Heidi is the last born of four girls who grew up in the dusty coal mine town of Emalahleni, Mpumalanga.

Giokos (currently at eNCA) has always had a keen interest in current affairs and global issues. She spent her childhood wanting to make a difference in her community and giving a voice to the voiceless. 

“Having grown up in such a small town, I knew I wanted more out of life and I knew I wanted to have a big impact on the people I met along the way,” she said.

Unlike Qunta, Giokos has always wanted to be a communicator, and spent a lot of her time practicing her craft because of her passion.

“When my sister Eleni Giokos who is older than me became a journalist, she inspired me even more to follow my dream,” Heidi said. (Eleni Giokos is an award-winning Business News Anchor at CNN).

Despite having grown up accustomed to work from a very young age, Heidi always knew she wanted more for herself.

“I started working at a local Pick n Pay, which truly toughened me up. While my peers were out enjoying school holidays I had to work. And from then I just knew I wanted to do more with my life,” she said.

Heidi identified that there were people out there who are struggling and suffering and felt that they unfortunately did not have a voice. 

“This inspired me even more to make a difference and be that voice for them. I’ll never forget one day packing for a customer and she looked at me and said, you going to change the world one day young lady. And that’s when I knew my dreams mattered and I could do it even if I changed one person’s life or made a small difference,” she added.

Giokos shares insight on the importance of specialising in the broadcast and journalism industry. 

“Specialising gives you ample opportunity to focus on your specific beat and build even stronger relationships. I had been exposed to small businesses from a very young age, with my father having shops on the mines and I just always wanted to know the ins and outs of business and the flow of money,” she said.

She also credits her older sister Eleni for introducing her to business journalism.

“I watched her from a young age on TV and I thought, wow she’s so smart I would love to know what’s going on. And like they always say, follow the money it will expose the true story,” Giokos added.

Heidi describes her journey as amazing, because everyday is a highlight.

“I learn something new every single day. Covering the World Economic Forum has been a huge highlight for her. In addition, covering the Budget Speech. SARS Inquiry, PIC Commission have been memorable as well.

Other memorable moments of her career include interviewing Finance Ministers and door-stopping the President. Heidi also covered the South African Airways turbulence from start to finish. She also finds pleasure in speaking to ordinary South Africans.

Her chosen career, like many others, is not smooth sailing and comes with its fair share of challenges.

“It becomes challenging in instances where you are assigned to a new story you haven’t covered before or have to reach out to people that are perhaps implicated in corruption, who can become mean and aggressive. On the other hand, journalists are often criticized and treated badly – which is sometimes difficult to hear, especially if you’ve tried your best. 

Throughout all of the hardships faced, Giokos maintains that there is learning and growth from all challenges that arise. 

Here are a few things Heidi Giokos wishes she knew earlier:

1. Stop stressing. 

2. There are always people out there willing to help and be kind, invest in them. 

3. Always ask for help and READ, READ & READ some more! 

4. Also enjoy spending my time with my loved ones and family. 

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