Kasia Madera


BA French and Politics, 1997
TV Presenter and Journalist, BBC News and BBC World News

Photo credit: Milton Boyne
  • How did you find your time at Queen Mary?
    I loved my time at Queen Mary. After visiting other universities it was my first choice because I wanted to study languages and stay in London. Queen Mary's Department of Modern Languages had a great reputation and did not disappoint. I also wanted to learn about politics and am still in awe of how Professor Wayne Parsons could make public policy so engaging. At the time the East End was pretty run down. Shoreditch was only just becoming a destination for a night out with the Whirl-Y-Gig at the local town hall and the Electricity Showrooms the main venues for students. Now they are spoilt for choice! It is amazing how much the area has changed! It was great to live there while it still had so much character.
  • What did you gain from your time at Queen Mary?
    Queen Mary has an incredible language department. Reading Descartes and Pascal in French under Professor Michael Moriarty was unforgettable. Classroom based learning was rewarding but anyone studying a foreign language knows the best way to learn is to visit the country and the course encouraged us to spend a year in France. I chose to teach in Paris. I lived near the Bastille and became immersed in the culture of this vibrant part of the French capital. I was saddened when years later, while presenting on BBC World News, I broke the news of the Charlie Hebdo magazine shooting, which took place in the 11th arrondissement where I once lived.
  • What, in your opinion, makes Queen Mary special?
    The fact that Queen Mary is a campus university in the centre of London means you get the best of both worlds. It has changed considerably since I was there. Our halls of residents were in South Woodford. The journey from Mile End to our rooms, which were in some of the most unglamorous tower blocks ever, really cemented some great friendships. And then of course there were the guard geese that would chase us around. What was really wonderful was having the whole of London accessible to us and also our beloved E1, one of the best and cheesiest student night clubs imaginable.
  • How have your studies at Queen Mary helped or influenced your career?
    The internet was only just being established when I was doing my dissertation about the East End of London so I had to do my research the old fashioned way. I spent a lot of time reading the archives at the Local History Library on Bancroft Road. I also interviewed people which is something I found I really enjoyed. That stayed with me and no doubt influenced my decision to become a journalist. My lecturer, Dr Anne Kershwen, was also a real inspiration. Her passion for the local area was contagious and I ended up staying in the East End for another ten years after graduating.
  • How did you get in to the job that you are doing now?
    After graduating my French helped me to get a job in PR, I am also bilingual in Polish which enabled me to work at a foreign language television station. Eventually I saved enough to do a Broadcast Journalism Postgraduate Diploma at City University in London. Through working hard and always being in the office I got a break reading the news bulletins at the BBC Asian Network. I then moved onto writing the news bulletins for BBC Radio 4, then the BBC News Channel. There I started generating stories and increasingly got the opportunity to report on them. I also began covering presenting shifts. With my language skills and knowledge of international politics thanks to Queen Mary it was a natural move to join the presentation team at BBC World News.
  • What have been the most interesting and challenging aspects of your job so far?
    Working for a rolling news channel means that every day is completely different. I have to be prepared for anything from interviewing Ozzy Osbourne to the Polish President, Bronisław Komorowski. One of the most nerve wracking moments was interrupting the scheduled programme on BBC One to break the news of Nelson Mandela's death. I have also presented during high profile events like the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. Most recently I went to the Commemorations for the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz. Interviewing some of the survivors was one of the most humbling moments of my career.
  • What do you do when you are not at work?
    Journalism is not really something you stop doing, even when away from the studio. I constantly have the news on at home and I read a lot. I am now seeing things from a new perspective thanks to my two young sons who keep me very busy and I travel a lot. But whatever I am doing in the back of my mind is a niggling voice asking would that work as a story? It is hard to switch off.
  • Are you in touch with any alumni from your year?
    My closest friends are from university. I have been to their weddings and more recently their children's Christenings. I may not see them as regularly as I would like but I know that when we do meet up it is as if we were grabbing a drink at the Drapers Arms, with its sticky carpet back then.
  • Your plans for the future?
    I have a number of projects lined up at work which I am very excited about, more about that in the future. My agent at Knight Ayton tends to throw various engagements at me which are always lots of fun. I am planning some trips abroad, some for work and some for pleasure but they will no doubt overlap. I am mentoring secondary school students who want to pursue a career in journalism which is proving to be very rewarding. And I am constantly chasing that next great story...
  • Anything else you would like to tell us?
    You can follow me on Twitter @KasiaMadera