The Fold Woman: Laura Wilshaw

The Fold Woman: Laura Wilshaw
November 29, 2013 The Fold

Laura Wilshaw

Current role:  Senior Foreign News Editor at Sky News

Laura leads the editorial direction for Foreign News each day at Sky News, this includes prioritising stories and deciding how they should be covered.  Laura works closely with the foreign correspondents on the road around the world to ensure coverage is interesting, factually correct, dynamic and up to date.

Prior to her current role, Laura was in charge of ITN’s Channel 5 News programme – deciding what went to air. She produced coverage of some of the world’s biggest current affairs stories including the 2012 US Election, Superstorm Sandy, the war in Afghanistan as well as the Chilean Miners and even the Oscars.

Some lesser known facts about Laura: Laura is a qualified Royal Yachting Association Yachtmaster, and worked for two years as a chef on a yacht in the Caribbean.  Laura also lived in Asia for 2 years, working as a journalist.  It was during the Tsunami that Laura did her first work covering breaking news.

How did you break into the competitive world of journalism?

I was older than the typical entrant – at 29 when I started.  I did work experience and then a role as a researcher, but my life experience meant that I was promoted very quickly.  My first breakthrough role was as a producer for Channel 5 news.  My first big foreign story was at Mount Everest, and then on to Afghanistan.

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Laura wears The Grosvenor dress in Midnight Blue, The Wilton coat in Blush Pink and The Cavendish dress in Plum.

Working on the News team can be a 24-hour job, give us an example of a working day:  If I’m in the office, I get up at 5am, check the news headlines before anything else, and am at my desk by 6am.  It’s then sorting through the day’s agenda, choosing stories and working out how we cover the news from the bureaux around the world.  We have editorial meetings at 7 and 8am to decide content and production ideas. All the while the 24 hour news is ongoing so I have to make sure every hour is being serviced.  Throughout the day I maintain editorial direction and understanding of how the story is changing while making sure the journalists are able to gather what they need. Plus I make sure the production teams are getting the content they require too.

Describe to us how your work might change on the road: For example during the 2012 US election, one morning I was in Colorado filming a story about how important it was as a swing state when suddenly Superstorm Sandy looked set to hit the East Coast.  We jumped on a plane from Denver to North Carolina after a brief sleep on the airport floor.  Driving into the eye of the storm, I had to think about issues of safety and security at the same time as doing everything we could to film the story.

Tell us about dressing for work in such a varied role:

Versatility is the key – at any moment you could be meeting the Prime Minister so you need to look serious and authoritative.  The films I make for news also have style as well as substance, and that is definitely part of my dressing philosophy too.  If I need to be casual for on the road, I will always have one element that is smarter with me, e.g. high heels – just in case.

The Fold Woman_Laura-Wilshaw_Mercer-Dress

Laura wears The Cavendish dress in Plum, The Mercer dress in Plum & Black and Le Marais Leather Jacket in Taupe.

Your job sounds very demanding, what skills do you need for the role, and how do you keep on top of it all?

Journalism requires a huge amount of energy. It’s also about speed and accuracy as well as storytelling.  Deadlines are absolute and its live TV, so there is little room for error.  Often there is a lot of gut instinct and confidence to make a quick decision.  The role is also part of a huge team effort.  You need great people skills to bring everything together for the deadlines.  I have to absorb a huge amount of information, you learn to skim read and pick out the important points.

In order to relax, I do yoga, which is a great contrast to the pace of work.  And I try and spend a lot of time outdoors when I’m not at work, just to be away from the studio environment.   I work really long hours and it’s really intense, so outside of work I like big open spaces like the sea or the mountains.  I just got back from a surf holiday in Morocco, it was next to a sleepy Berber village – and waves just big enough for a beginner.  I also cook loads and recently did a Macaron baking course!

Do you have a mentor?  How important has that been in your career?

I am part of a mentoring scheme run by Women in Film and Television. I was paired with a very senior executive in current affairs.  She’s proof that women are equally capable in this fast paced, competitive environment. There are also 19 other mentees in the scheme who are all incredibly successful. We all support each other in our film and TV careers and encourage each other to believe in our capabilities. The news industry can be quite aggressive and fast in nature so an edge of femininity can provide a healthy balance.

In addition, there are so many talented, ground-breaking correspondents and managers I have worked with.  They balance incredible journalism and great storytelling with huge amounts of energy and enthusiasm. It’s quite something to work with people you really look up to and are constantly learning from. They’ve probably had more influence on me than anything else in my career.

What is your favourite item from The Fold and why?

I wear the pencil skirt all the time – it fits so amazingly.  I’ve never had a skirt that fits me so well – I also feel powerful in it, whether in flats or heels.  I also have a black silk dress (Swanston) which I have worn both dressed up and dressed down – it’s so versatile.   From the new collection I love the coat – it feels quite powerful but with a feminine edge.  I don’t wear too much makeup or over do the hair so the clothes I wear can make more of a statement.  I’ve always been small (size 6) and I find it really difficult to find formal clothes; dresses, skirts and trousers for work.  The Fold fits me perfectly!

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Laura wears The Wilton coat in Blush Pink.

Addendum:  Laura has just returned from the Philippines covering the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan. She travelled to the worst hit city of Tacloban. Her team told stories of destruction as well as those of survival, read them here.

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