There is a new face in business and journalism, that face is beautiful, elegant, smart and Greek! Eleni Giokos is that striking beauty bringing a breath of fresh air and ease to business and finance journalism. Jucy Africa had a chat with Eleni, she gives us a glimpse on her life, career and how the Greek goddess lets her hair down when she is not behind the news desk.
Jucy Africa: Who is Eleni?
Eleni: Curious, passionate, journalist, loves Africa, Greece and global macroeconomic issues. I am driven by my spirituality. No tolerance to hurting or killing any animal for any reason, including food.
Jucy Africa: Tell us about where you were raised?
Eleni: I was born on a Greek island, Limnos and I grew up in Witbank. My parents relocated to South Africa when I was 5 years old.
Jucy Africa: What is Eleni Giokos about?
Eleni: Eleni believes that it’s not about what comes your way but rather how you choose to respond to the good and bad in your life. Once you learn to control your responses you can start controlling your environment. Taking a spiritual approach to life helps you understand why things happen the way they do. You have to be optimistic and ensure you control your thoughts. That way you can manifest beautiful things into your life.
Jucy Africa: You are a young journalist in South Africa, what are the highs and lows of such a career and being a journalist in South Africa?
Eleni: Mostly highs. It is such an incredible journey being a journalist in South Africa. We are a young democracy and as such, journalists are able to engage in important dialogue that shapes our thinking. I have met leaders and business men that have contributed immensely to this country and it is always an honour to meet and interview them. The very people I admired I had an opportunity to meet and interview. Apart from the incredible people I’ve interviewed I had the privilege to be mentored by Bronwyn Nielsen, Peter Ndoro and Nikiwe Bikitsha. At the end of the day it’s up to you to ensure that you learn as much as possible from the people that cross your path.
The lowest time in my career was when I was starting out. Firstly my knowledge was limited and so felt incompetent as a journalist. This is the time when you will be criticized the most, people will talk about your presentation skills, your confidence and knowledge. I was very stressed at this time but decided to channel all this nervous energy into something positive and so worked harder and longer.
Jucy: Is being a journalist what you have always wanted to do?
Eleni: I always wanted to disseminate information in some way — when I was younger I wanted to become a teacher then decided to express myself through art and finally discovered journalism after taking anthropology at university. Anthropology made me fall in love with sociopolitical and economic issues and particularly how we choose to respond to these issues based on our past experiences. I am also fascinated in how history shapes us but more importantly how we mostly don’t learn from past mistakes.
My father spent hours talking about Greek mythology, philosophy and world history. I always admired his knowledge and knew from a young age there were bigger things happening in the world than just “my” problems. I also believe that it is of fundamental importance for us to know what is going on around us, politically and economically. Only then are we able to gain an understanding of our lives and make informed decisions. The power of the news and history shapes our future and we are fortunate to have a say in what that that future will be.
Jucy: What does a day in Eleni’s life look like?
Eleni: I wake up at around 5am and get to work just after six. After coffee, hair and makeup I read as much as possible before my show starts. Newspapers are critical to preparing for shows. I also call analysts in order to gain an in-depth understanding of stories I will be covering on the day. I’m on air from 9am to 1pm, I then spend time with the team preparing for the next day. I also write for the Mail and Guardian, so my afternoons are filled with research and endless phone calls. I often MC, host debates or media train corporates. Gym is an important part of my day and when I am not working on a project in the evenings I dedicate them to cooking!
Jucy: Tell us about the move from CNBC Africa to eNews?
Eleni: I moved to eNCA to flex other muscles as a journalist. I understand how daunting business and finance can be. But I also understand how important it is for every person in SA to understand the economy and the implications of economic data and the markets on our lives. Everything revolves around money and the latest global crisis proved we need to be more aware of what is going on in economics. I hope to bridge that gap and make business news more accessible. I am also enjoying touching base with real socio-economic issues affecting everyday South Africans. We can’t live in a politics bubble or an economic bubble. The two overlap and I want to have the strength to disseminate both elements of our society
Before I started as CNBC Africa, I was the type of person that skipped the business section of the news paper thinking it was for ‘intelligent’ people. CNBC Africa was the most important learning curve as a young journalist. I conducted 10 interviews a day and adlibbed market news constantly. I worked 15-16 hours days in the first few years and as the years went by my productivity levels increased and my journalistic skills strengthened immensely as I engrossed myself into my work. During that time I had no work life balance — but this was my choice. I hosted debates and spoke with elite business and government delegates daily across Africa. I was also media training government officials as well as corporates and so had honed a variety of expertise.
Jucy: What has been the most difficult on air interview you have had in your career?
Eleni: I can’t pin it down to a specific interviewee but I can tell you it’s those that give one word answers. Otherwise I generally have had very easy interviews, if you’re prepared there’s nothing to fear!
Jucy: Who have you interviewed that you found to be surprisingly pleasant?
Eleni: Former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou!
Jucy: September the past month is Heritage month, does it mean anything to you?
Eleni: South Africa is my first love but feel blessed to have two heritages… we have a beautiful nation and its diversity is its strength. I love tradition and feel very strongly about recognising tradition and heritage not only once a year during an official holiday but rather by living it every day.
Jucy: Do you know your history as a young Greek woman as much as you know the JSE?
Eleni: Yes I do! Although I was born in Greece my first trip back was in 2008. Since then I visit every year and have discovered the incredible history of an ancient nation. It is an amazing feeling when you visit the Acropolis, knowing great philosophers, mathematicians and other great historians have walked those very steps. More importantly when visiting Limnos, I investigate my families heritage and have discovered remarkable stories from the elders. It’s like going back in time and reliving history, hearing stories about my parents or grandparents gives me a different perspective on their lives.
Jucy: What/who inspires you?
Eleni: My grandmother, Heidi. She was married at 16 she had eight children. In those days there was no running water on the islands, no electricity and if you wanted food you had to cultivate it yourself. That for me is ultimate success, living off very little and despite the tough times she is kind an optimist! My parents are my biggest inspiration, I have never seen two people work so hard and never give up despite all the challenges. They taught me to speak my mind respectfully, they gave me the confidence to take on challenges but were always there to protect me.
Jucy: What does Eleni do to unwind?
Eleni: Read. Hike up Walter Sisulu mountain, play tennis, also enjoy basketball and spinning. Movies are my great escape!
Jucy : What music do you listen to?
Eleni: Everything… from rock to house to Greek music. I must confess I cannot live without music…it inspires me and gets my adrenaline flowing before I start my show.
Jucy: Which three cool places in your city would you recommend to someone new in the city?
Eleni: Fox street in JHB CBD- Arts on Main. I discovered it recently and absolutely love the vibe. Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens. Gold Reef City – after you shed a few tears at the Apartheid Museum you should enjoy rides and most definitely sign up for the underground gold mine tour.
Jucy: Who would you want to be stuck in island with?
Eleni: My boyfriend! Given he’s a civil engineer, I would of course expect him to build a magnificent shelter!
Jucy: What is the one thing you cannot get enough of?
Eleni: On air, reading and my gorgeous man.
Jucy: If your house caught fire what are the first three things you would save?
Eleni: My family, my filing case with all my important paperwork and then my oil paintings!
Jucy: Trevor Noah or Joey Rasdien?
Jucy: Lira or Nicki Minaj?
Jucy: What are you currently reading?
Eleni: The House of Paradise Street by Sofika Zinovieff.
Jucy: You have a gorgeous body, do you work out?
Eleni: I enjoy outdoor sports and adrenaline type sports. I do go to the gym but mostly enjoy hitting the tennis court or hiking.
Jucy: For someone who wants to follow in your footsteps, what would you like to say to them?
Eleni: To become an anchor you must be a journalist first! You need to immerse yourself in history, current affairs , understand global issues and think about how these affect you and the world around you. I’ve trained many students that wanted to anchor and find that as soon as they realise there’s hard work involved not just “reading” autocue many are discouraged. This is an important test for those wanting to pursue presenting. Whether you’re interested in entertainment, sports, current affairs or business you must have something more to offer than just a pretty face and a good voice. Your main aim should be to inform and analyse not be to famous.
Jucy: If R50 was all you had in your purse, what would you do with it?
Eleni: Well, that’s all I had when I moved to Johannesburg in 2006. I spent it on food after I secured work as a waitress across the road from where I was living!
Jucy: What would you like to change about the state South Africa is in?
Eleni: I am disappointed in the amount of crime in South Africa. I am shocked that we are capable of such violence despite the sacrifices made by the freedom fighters. There is poverty in other African countries but we are one of the only nations that is so violent. Poverty is another issue, we should be doing more to eradicate hunger and get beggars off the streets. We have the resources to integrate the underprivileged into society though skills development and education. We can’t hand out money and food without making the effort to improve quality of life.
Jucy: Eleni thank you for your time. Keep shining!
Follow Eleni @EleniGiokos on twitter
Eleni dressed by Fullkream in Illovo
Stylist: @KgosiLesego of FearLes Styling
Make up by Eunice
Photography by Jessica Hunkin @jjess_h