The Storyteller

Singapore-based Leisha Chi 08C brings 'the Asian growth story' to light

By Gabriella Huerta

Story Photo

While people stumbled out of the bars in Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong's famous drinking district, Leisha Chi 08C was already waking up, groggily taking a taxi into work by 3 a.m. to read up on the day's financial news and write scripts for the anchors.

Looking back two years later, Chi acknowledges the road to becoming a broadcast journalist for the BBC in Singapore has been less than glamorous. But it's also a privilege Chi wouldn't trade. Singapore is the biggest television production hub outside London and Washington D.C., and the BBC helps shape the growing news agenda out of Asia.

Today she's following the US Federal Reserve Bank's policy meeting on whether to extend its stimulus program and closely monitoring how the Asian stocks are reacting.

Chi has been working for the BBC World News in Singapore for two years as a producer and reporter for Newsday and Asia Business Report. The news programs cover everything from the latest market trends to regional entrepreneurship stories.

Even though it's 8 p.m. in Singapore and several more hours of work await her, Chi cheerfully assures me, "People don't do this unless they really love their jobs."

And it's this love affair with journalism that landed Chi a job after graduating from Emory College in 2008, and has taken her to the frontlines in one of the world's largest emerging economies.

It's a very exciting time in business and specifically in the Asia-Pacific, says Chi. Despite the global financial crisis several years ago, Asia has proved to be extraordinarily resilient.

"People talk about the rise and fall of empires, and it's highly likely that the US will not be the only superpower in the coming years—China is on the ascent, and Asia with it," says Chi. As a journalist, "you want to be in a region where there is so much growth and change."

But Chi didn't always know she wanted to be a journalist. After growing up in Hong Kong and then Singapore, Chi decided she wanted to pursue political science in the United States, and was drawn to Emory.

After arriving in Atlanta, it wasn't long before she started writing for the Emory Wheel. After that, Chi says, she knew she was "done. I wanted to do journalism for the rest of my life."

Though she enjoys a flourishing journalism career today, Chi didn't get there the traditional academic way. "Do you want to know something really funny? I actually applied to the journalism program and I didn't get in because they had limited spots," says Chi, who went on to major in comparative literature and African studies.

So Chi pursued her goals outside the classroom and landed an internship at CNN in Atlanta, juggling her coursework in addition to her duties at the newsroom.

Her hard work paid off and, after graduation, Chi was offered a job at Bloomberg despite the hiring freezes the organization suffered in 2008. She credits her previous work experience, but also her liberal arts education and time at Emory, as the reasons she got the job.

"My four years at Emory were literally some of the best years of my life," says Chi, who also has gone on to be the Emory alumni chapter leader in Singapore.

"Liberal arts education does make you very well rounded because you're exposed to so many subjects," Chi says. "As a journalist you sometimes need to write about a story that you don't know very much about, and you need to be able to read up quickly about a subject and get to know it."

And it's her ability to talk about the new and sometimes unknown that makes her so successful as a producer and reporter for the BBC in theAsia-Pacific.

"There is so much diversity," Chi says of the region. "There are so many stories to be told."

Email the editor