MY LIFE IN MENTORS
by Stefano Hatfield
Stefano Hatfield is an editor, journalist and entrepreneur who has launched Metro USA, thelondonpaper, London Live TV and the i, as well as The Times Top 100 CEO Summit and the High50.com start-up. He has been an editor at Campaign in London and Advertising Age in New York, plus global editorial director of John Brown. Here, he pays tribute to his personal mentors without which, he argues, he would scarcely have had a career in journalism.
Hugh Hargreaves, ex Head of English, the John Fisher School
Mr Hargreaves inspired and encouraged my life-long love of English, both language and literature. He spotted whatever ability I had and nurtured it by challenging me to think more critically and not be scared of expressing myself. Everyone needs one teacher to go above and beyond. Hugh was mine.
Roberta Cohen, ex editor, Restaurant Business
The boss who gave me my first job in journalism was a woman — she was also — sadly — my last female editor. She hired me because there were “too many women on the team” and she “needed someone to go to black tie events with” (it was the late 80s). The ebullient, indefatigable, chain-smoking Roberta was a sheep in wolf’s clothing who taught me that journalism was never going to be a nine to five job and you had to just plunge in and give your life over to it.
Stuart Smith, ex editor, Marketing Week
In those highly competitive magazine newsroom days, when I felt I was not getting the same number of stories as my more aggressive peers, Stuart taught me that there was more than one way to get a scoop. Drinks on expenses (in the days when journalists had them) were to become my friend. Contacts became everything. Wanting to beat a higher profile rival (Campaign) was worthwhile motivation.
Bernard Barnett, ex editorial director, Campaign
The wily Bernard was born an old fox. He taught me one thing above all: if you are going to spend 12 to 14 hours a day doing something, you may as well love what you do. Contacts respond to a journalist caring — through personal ubiquity and knowledge. He also taught me how to trade stories and reminded me of the need to be decent. Obvious? You might think so, but when surrounded by the sharks of journalism and advertising…
Per Mikel Jensen, ex global editor-in-chief, Metro International
When launching Metro in New York, I was in awe of PM’s extraordinary professional ability. He could literally do every job on a newspaper and do them quicker and better than anyone else. A Dane, he taught me to lead from the front and helped me hold my nerve in Manhattan, when all around me the Swedes of Metro could sometimes lose theirs. A polymath who led by example, PM foolishly fired me, but we are still good friends.
Les Hinton, ex executive chairman, News International
In the heady days of the free paper wars, Les kept me sane by being hands-off enough to let me make my own mistakes with thelondonpaper, helped me understand them in private and supported me to the hilt in public. He taught me to navigate the intoxicating madness of Wapping, Rupert Murdoch and the battle with DMGT. Also, that in an industry full of blowhards, a little self-deprecation could go a long way.
Loreta Hatfield, mother
My ma never wanted me to be a journalist and insists she was right about that to this day. She is a braver, stronger woman with more integrity than anyone I’ve ever met in my career. She taught me how important it was to be “simpatico” and that “it is better to live one day as a lion than a lifetime as a sheep”.
If I learned one thing above all else from the above, it was the importance of maintaining contacts and building your own personal network. Some people are fortunate, by way of background, school or education to have a ready-made network they take for granted, which will give them a head start. Most people do not. I strongly believe that there is not actually a talent gap in the UK, more an opportunity gap. It is for those without networks and access to opportunity that the new Connect Mentors platform, which launches on October 27th, National Mentoring Day, exists.