By Signe Hansen
When Louisa Bojesen greets Scan Magazine at precisely 9.15am, she has just come off air after three hours of live reporting on the financial markets on CNBC’s flagship programme Squawk Box Europe. Realising that we are doing the interview in English, she quickly asks to move the conversation somewhere quieter; she does not want to talk about herself with everybody around – perhaps a hint of modesty that may be attributed to her Danish upbringing. But apart from that a picture of Bojesen, who can count Denmark, the USA, the UK, the Middle East and Ghana among her workplaces, is almost what you would expect to find if your look up the term “international success”.
Her day today, like most others, started at 3.30 am, but although, she says, she is not a morning person, Bojesen still thinks of her job as her “dream job”. But then again, the adrenalin that follows with being broadcast live to 350 million households all over Europe should be enough to keep anybody awake and maybe also a bit nerve-wracked.
Thrown in at the deep end
34-year-old Louisa Bojesen is, however, not just anybody and although she admits to loving the adrenalin kick, her self-secure and straightforward ways ensure that nobody confuses adrenalin with nervousness.
What is characteristic about Bojesen is not so much her typical Danish blonde hair or slender figure; it is how she can make a career that would make most people green with envy sound like a rather minor achievement yet at the same time seem fully to appreciate how privileged she is – an attitude many unsuccessfully try to exude. “When I started at CNBC, I was quite young and I was thrown in at the deep end. But I had some great people to learn from and I think you learn by doing,” she says. “Determination is 90 per cent of it. If you are determined to do anything, as long as you keep at it and if you are a normal, bright person, eventually you will succeed.”
From Birkerød to Chicago
Being a famous news presenter was, however, not a lifelong dream of Bojesen’s. No, when growing up in Birkerød, she thought she wanted to be a doctor; but first, the young girl, who because of her father’s job as an economist had already had a taste of international life with him and her American mother in Seattle and Baghdad, chose to move to Chicago to study Political Science, Philosophy and Pre-medicine at Loyola University. Afterwards, she ended up in the city’s banking industry because, she rather puzzlingly explains, that was an industry she did not know anything about. “When I was done with school in the US, it was the mid-nineties. I was still not 100 per cent sure that I wanted to go to medical school so I thought: what do I know very little about and what is super exciting? It was trading,” she explains adding, “I was in the middle of Chicago, a big pulsating city, and I trained at one of the larger financial institutions and ended up working at Chicago Board of Trade. It was a brilliant, absolutely brilliant, and really adrenalin pumping time.”
Back to Copenhagen and on to London
It was the adrenalin that Bojesen missed when she returned to Copenhagen to take up her medical studies and when an ad came up for CNBC Nordic in 2000, she seized the chance and applied. “They were looking for someone with a strong journalism background or strong financial background and I thought: well I kind of have a little bit of both in that I have always been good at telling stories. The worst thing that can happen is that you get a big fat no,” she says with a confidence that can only come naturally, adding, “Once I started doing the job, I just became submerged in it and I really found my spot. I absolutely loved the job, you have to use your head and at the same time it is fun and entertaining.”
CNBC’s viewers loved her too, and when CNBC Nordic closed down, Bojesen moved to the channel’s London headquarters.
From London to the Middle East
In London Bojesen became the anchor of the morning show Squawk Box Europe but also worked several other positions within the News organisation. One recurrent job was her covering of the World Economic Forum for the Middle East. Bojesen’s interest in the region has grown so keen that she started taking Arabic lessons last year. “I cannot brag of speaking fluently though,” she quickly stresses, “but I am learning to read and write slowly but surely.”
I asked her what had fascinated her so much about the region. “We lived in Baghdad when I was a child for a year so maybe, subconsciously the interest comes from there. But in my later years I have worked both in Jordan and Egypt and I had the pleasure of talking to Queen Rania of Jordan at her palace and for some reason I just feel more attracted to the region. I think that we in the Western world underestimate the financial powerhouse that the Middle East is.”
And then to Ghana
But it is not all about finance. In her spare time Bojesen likes to paint, visit friends and family in Denmark and then, of course, do the odd documentary exploring the impact of the environment and poverty. In 2008 she filmed the documentary Outbound Africa for CNBC.
How did you get the idea for this documentary?
I always wanted to donate some of my vacation time to help out and by chance I was interviewing the CEO of Aviva, Richard Harvey, who was working very closely with Concern Universal. We agreed that it would make sense for me to follow him on one of his trips and I brought a camera man. Everybody was working in their spare time in order to make it happen and we were just lucky that CNBC chose to air the documentary so many times.
How did you experience Africa?
There are so many issues to tackle in Africa; it is such a huge continent. But Ghana as a country has so much potential so it is just interesting to go into more depth with the broad ranging impact of climate change. It was very worthwhile, it was an opportunity to go out and learn about things that you would never have seen otherwise, like the disaster of flooding.
It is hard not to admire Bojesen, her work and her belief in herself or maybe one should rather say her belief in what you can do if you believe in yourself. While talking with some very successful people will leave you just envious, Bojesen’s attitude is also very contagious, so after half an hour’s pep talk I set off to conquer the world!
Five facts you definitely did not know about the tough news presenter:
What do you do when you really want to spoil yourself?
An upper back massage. I often go to my favourite Thai massage place in London, they really know how to give deep tissue massage.
How much time do you spend on your looks in the morning?
Surprisingly little. I do my makeup in the morning and that takes me about 7 minutes and then I have somebody who does my hair. I am a wash-and-go kind of girl.
What is your favourite drink when out?
Very sweet water melon martini.
What is the best film you have watched recently?
I know it is a bit odd, but I watched Fur with Nicole Kidman and Robert Downey Junior and I thought I would hate it, but I actually loved it. It is a very strange movie, nobody heard about it. I like the quirky movies.
Who is your favourite actor?
Who can say no to Jack Nicolson?