Every time I introduce a colourful woman, I say she is someone special. Every single one of you is special and wait and watch… you will find yourself reading about yourself here and finding out just how special you are!
My colourful woman today is Milanee Kapadia. I first met Milanee as the wife of my husband’s childhood friend when they came to live in London for a couple of years during her husband’s (Sujal’s) assignment here in 2009. I am happy to say that now I can call her a friend of mine.
Milanee is an inspiration to me in so many levels and so I thought hmmmm…. ‘let me explore some more, get to know her better, and yes…. share her with all of you…’
So here I am… interviewing a TV Journalist!
Milanee thank you for being a ‘Colourful Woman’ and for allowing me the pleasure of featuring you on my blog. I have been very impressed and very inspired by you and your joie de vivre.
I would love to share with our readers these specific aspects of your life that I find so fascinating:
- Where in India were you born and at what age did you move to the U.S.?
MK: I was born in Mumbai and we moved to the U.S. when I was a year old. At the age of 8, my family moved back to India, to a city called Ahmedabad where my father started his own Engineering Company.
2. Where did you go to school?
MK: I went all the way up to college in Ahmedabad and did my undergrad in Commerce at HL University. At 21, I went to Pepperdine University, Malibu where I majored in Communications.
3. Tell me about your career… how did you become involved in media and more importantly become an anchor woman for Yahoo! Finance?
MK: During my summer break at Pepperdine, I did a summer internship at a local Indian TV show in New York. I wore many hats there, from going in the field to selling ad time. Then I worked at the TV Station on Pepperdine‘s Campus which was broadcast locally in Malibu. It was an amazing experience with only students running the show.
After Pepperdine, my first job in TV Production was in Portland, Oregon at their CBS Affiliate. It was an entry-level position where I ripped scripts, ran prompter and did entry-level production work. The producer of the nightly newscast (Kara Garcia) gave me my first break writing TV copy and mentored me.
4. How did you meet Sujal?
MK: I met Sujal in 1995 while I was in my last term at Pepperdine. He came to Los Angeles to attend a friend’s wedding (our parents who were in Gujarat had exchanged our numbers). At the time I could only commit to a long distance relationship (he lived in New York City) as I wanted to move around and be flexible in fulfilling my dream of being a TV reporter. After a year at my job in Portland, I moved to New York and got a job as an assistant producer at CBS News. We lived together for a year.
Then I got my lucky break. I was offered my first job as an on-air TV Reporter in Midland, Texas – one of the smallest TV markets in the country! However, this was the best place to begin my career as a reporter as it let me make mistakes and learn.
5. How was working in this station compared to working in New York?
MK: Being a small station, it was a great platform to get live shots, shooting and reporting experience. Large TV Stations in big cities are pretty unforgiving. Starting at a small station, I gained a wealth of experience in being on air journalist.
6. I am sure in your early years in the States you would have had a strong Indian accent. Was this ever an issue? Did it change naturally or did you have to overcome it for your career?
MK: My stint in Texas was the first time my accent was ever mentioned. I started voice coaching then and continued when I moved back to New York after marrying Sujal in 1999.
7. Where did your career lead you to in 1999 in New York?
MK: I freelanced with a few small local stations. A friend working at Bloomberg News took my CV and I got offered a job as Business Anchor at Bloomberg Television.
8. Did you have any background in business and finance?
MK: No. I had no knowledge about business news. I did not know much about finance although Sujal worked on Wall Street! The news director called me and said ‘We will teach you all you need to know about business. You already know TV.” It was tough but a great challenge. So I took many classes at Bloomberg University and in 4 years, I developed a strong foundation in economic news and markets.
In 2004, I was then called by a local widely watched channel called NY1 News to freelance. This was a tougher assignment than when I was in Texas as this was covering New York City- a very tough market, oftentimes lugging my camera gear and shooting my own stories.
9. How did this move to NY1 from Bloomberg affect your career? Do you think you made the right move at the time?
MK: In terms of compensation it was a complete disaster. I took a large cut in pay, received no benefits but I still believed in it.
MK: I’m still freelancing for NY1 as a reporter down at the New York Stock Exchange. I have been with them since 2004 except for a stint in London in 2009-2011– I freelanced for Thomson Reuters in Canary Wharf as a presenter for News India TV and CCTV (China).
10. I decided to peek in to your Linked-In Profile and I just LOVE how you summarise yourself. I have to quote it…
‘Seeking a job in corporate communications, branded content and news content in NYC. Willing to write, produce or act as a liaison between the company and the public. I currently work as a freelance reporter and anchor at NY1 News and Yahoo! Finance.
I am an avid consumer of media- whether its online, on TV or on my smart phone. I am also being avidly consumed by my three children an 8 year old daughter and toddler identical twin girls.
At the same time, I love to break out of my mommy avatar and go to work as a freelancer covering the U.S. markets in the financial capital of the world. The lights go on, my mic opens and I hear the countdown in my ear before I launch into what I do best- talking to people with brevity, knowledge and a modicum of smart alecness.
I have a lot to say and trying to figure out the best way to say it- hire me folks!’
Did I already say, ‘I love it!’? It’s short, sweet and very punchy! I’d love to say ,’Milanee, you’re hired!’.
11. How does it feel to be an anchor woman on national TV?
MK: Awesome! and a big responsibility. Sometimes I feel like media is getting much younger but then I am glad to have two decades of experience behind me.
12. Where do you want to go from here?
MK: I am now interviewing for a full-time role in TV Production or Corporate Communication or Content Strategy.
13. Now to your ‘Mommy Avatar’. I remember how dedicated you were to Mila during your stay in London. You made sure she had as much of the ‘British Experience’ as she could fit in in the time and how she really is the apple of your eye. What can you share about your relationship with Mila and your growth as a mother?
MK: I was not ready to be a mommy when I had Mila. Mila taught me to be a mommy- it was very tough but she got me ready for the biggest role of my life.
14. How old was Mila when you found out you were pregnant with Identical Twins?
MK: She was six!
I remember this was not an easy pregnancy as you needed to be monitored throughout, but you looked very well and also came back to England for a visit.
15. And then you were blessed with two more little angels. How did it feel to have 3 daughters now?
MK: It feels amazing there are ups and downs but I can’t imagine life without my three girls. They are the most beautiful people I know. Each is one is so different even though the twins look the same. 🙂
16. I know that having a child completely changes a family dynamic, well it enhances it. And I also know how twins can completely throw you for a loop. Please share what was happening in the first 3-4 months of the twins’ arrival?
MK: The twins were premature as expected after a long 2 months of bed-rest. Initially it felt like everything went upside down. Our family of 3, small and sweet, went to 5 instantly with so many unpredictable moments! We had to leave one of the babies in NICU for two weeks while bringing the other one home. This was very heart–breaking but yet gave us some time to break in to bringing home the first baby. Along with that came the guilt also of Mila having to now cope not with one new baby but sharing our attention with two. While it was physically and mentally shattering for us, it was also rough on Mila for a while.
17. How long did it take you to bounce back in to work?
MK: I went back to work after 6 months. I needed to and wanted to work. I freelanced occasionally then did a short, full-time stint with Yahoo! It was a great experience working in the digital world.
Wow! That’s incredible after the experience you have had. Hats off to you!
MK: I feel like I am a better mum when I am working though I wish I could stay home a couple of extra hours during the day.
18. How did you juggle 3 children, a home and a very charged and dynamic career living in New York City?
MK: Sujal walked away from his high-powered and high-intensity role on Wall Street and took the opportunity to bond with his children and raise them as a stay-at-home dad. This made all the difference as both of us were able to dedicate ourselves to the 3 girls and I was able to get back to freelancing after 6 months (as well as the gym) knowing that their father was with them.
That’s quite commendable for a man who has worked since the age of 20 in the same field and has accomplished so much in his tenure in banking to just be able to walk away from it and immerse himself to being a full-time parent. I would love to interview Sujal next to learn his thoughts and emotions behind his decisions.
MK: Ha ha. Many of my friends have said the same! As for juggling, it’s easier now with Sujal on board full-time. Also Mila and I have always had our bonding time over Piano lessons. I home-school her through the Suzuki Piano method and that is our one-on-one time together.
The house-hold chores are well-balanced between Sujal and myself. He being the family CFO does the budgeting and tracking our Family expenses, planning our holidays, preparing lunches. I take care of the elaborate dinners and the laundry. It’s an equal division of labour which makes it all manageable.
19. So do either or both of you have time for yourselves/ for fitness?
MK: Yes, we take turns. Sujal goes to the gym at 6a.m. and I go at 7a.m. everyday.
Great discipline to have! That can’t be easy on a winter morning!
20. Your biggest challenge to date?
MK: The hardest time I have had so far is the months post-delivery. The twins were c-section and were winter babies which along with my hormones was very depressing.
21. Sujal and you have been quite involved in a social service. Please tell us about it.
MK: Yes, we are involved with City Harvest –it’s a food rescue organization feeding New York City’s Hungry people. They rescue food that would have been thrown away but is still safe to eat from farmers’ markets, restaurants and grocery stores. They then deliver the food to soup kitchens, homeless shelters and churches.
Sujal is on the board of the organization, and I volunteer my time doing cooking demonstrations for their Healthy Neighborhoods initiative. Some folks don’t even know what to do with something as simple as an apple as they don’t get healthy produce close by. I go and show them to wash, slice and cook with various fruits and vegetables. I also volunteer as an Emcee/Auctioneer for Fund Raiser Events for the charity Lend-A-Hand India.
Thank you Milanee for sharing your experiences with us in all the aspects of your life and being so open. What one thought would you leave us with?
MK: Everyone’s life looks amazing in Social media, as would mine. But it is a real struggle and there is no shame in asking for help to make it work. The only way you can be a good person and manage your life is if you reach out for a helping hand now and then. And that is something you will never see on Facebook! When the girls were born, all the parents in Mila’s class came forward with a helping hand. From preparing meals for us individually – Sujal and I have different dietary preferences – to helping us at home, taking care of Mila. They had a lovely rota system going just for our family!
Also as the mother of three daughters, I am also conscious as to how I want them to see me. So that when they grow up they are strong, honest and hardworking women who are not afraid to stand up for themselves in the homeroom, the boardroom or wherever they end up!
I wish you every success in finding your next perfect job as well as every success in being that amazing role model for your beautiful girls.