This series features career related questions and answers from alumni professional leaders. These posts will provide a quick glance at what motivates inspiring alumni and how they eventually got to where they are today, always using the same 3 questions. Today we check in with Rich Latour, BA’95
Rich is a senior producer with NBC News; ‘Rock Center with Brian Williams’.
Here are his answers to our 3 questions:
1- What inspires you in your career?
Curiosity. Growing up, my parents and older siblings exposed me to news and current events from an early age and I got the bug. I craved more knowledge about what I heard on the news and would figure out a way to seek out more information on a variety of political, cultural and international topics. Usually, I would do this by consulting the old-fashioned, multi-volume, hard copy of the family’s Encyclopedia Britannica. (I consider it a good thing the Internet wasn’t around then.)
This all led to broadcast journalism and a great 16 years+ at NBC News, where my curiosity has been more than satisfied as I have been fortunate enough to cover a wide variety of stories in the United States and around the world. As my career progresses, I am not only curious about the editorial content of stories, but how best to deliver them by taking advantage of the latest, fast-changing technologies available to journalists.
2- What, if any, are the broad patterns or themes that define your career path?
My career can be divided into two phases. Phase 1 was the ‘NBC Nightly News’ phase. It’s where I grew up as a researcher, associate producer, producer and senior producer. I was there for 12 years. It was a long-running show, with a huge audience. In other words, a stable and secure place to be. Phase 2 is post-Nightly News, which has meant 3 different jobs at 3 different shows, managing 3 different sets of teams, all in the past 4 years. These have all been start-ups which have each gone through their requisite share of growing pains.
In Phase 1, I learned to be flexible with the types of stories I was asked to produce or oversee, and go with the flow (and motivate others) when plans had to change at the last minute, as they often did. In Phase 2, I have had to be flexible in these start-up environments; tweaking teams and the story content as we tried to find an audience. You have to be nimble and know when and how to pivot to be successful in any business. That’s especially the case in Media which will only be further disrupted by the rise of social media and other technological advances.
3- What is the best career advice you have ever received or given?
Take risks, follow your heart and challenge yourself to work outside your comfort zone. In my case, I was very comfortable having been at the same place for 12 years. But I knew in my heart, my ultimate career satisfaction depended on broadening my experience. So I took a risk and left to run a show in cable news. That show ended its run, and that was okay. So then I ran a syndicated show before coming to my current job. Along the way, in addition to practicing journalism, I sought to learn the business side. By doing so, I picked up valuable promotion, marketing, digital and management skills that I would not have had I stayed in one place.
To hear more from Rich and other accomplished McGill Alumni, join us at our “How to Find Success” Networking Event taking place in New York on Wednesday November 7th!