No Bullsh*t Leadership, with Roula Khalaf


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Chris Hirst, Global CEO of advertising group Havas Creative, cuts through the bullshit and gets to the heart of modern leadership in this straight-talking podcast brought to you by Intelligence Squared.

In this episode, Christ Hirst speaks to Roula Khalaf, the Editor of the Financial Times. In January 2020, Khalaf became the first female editor in the Financial Times’ 134-year history. Her path to the top of the FT came through her work as a foreign correspondent. Born in Lebanon, she served as the FT’s Foreign Editor, reporting from Iraq, Iran and Syria, and leading the FT’s coverage of the Arab Spring. She joined the FT in 1995 as North Africa correspondent after a stint as a staff writer for Forbes magazine in New York, and she now manages 600 journalists across the globe as editor of one of the world’s most respected and recognisable publications.

If you enjoyed this podcast please let us know what you think by rating and reviewing No Bullsh*t Leadership on Apple Podcasts. For updates on the series follow @intelligence2 and @chrishirst on Twitter.

Producer & Editor: Bella Soames;

Technical Support: Mark Roberts.

Chris Hirst is author of the award-winning book No Bulls*ht Leadership: Why the World Needs More Everyday Leaders and Why That Leader Is You.


  • 00:00 Intro
  • 01:17 Becoming editor during the pandemic
  • 04:59 Increased trust in the media
  • 07:21 Your childhood and growing up in Beirut
  • 10:52 Your take on Carlos Ghosn
  • 12:26 Your first job at Forbes and meeting Jordan Belfort
  • 14:40 Early career as a foreign correspondent
  • 16:24 Your leadership style
  • 17:12 Learning about a new style of management during the pandemic
  • 20:00 What you can and can’t achieve with hybrid working systems
  • 21:28 Your experience as the first female editor of the Financial Times
  • 22:16 Why a diversity of views makes for better journalism
  • 23:52 The difference between leadership near the top of an organisation, and once you become the leader of an organisation
  • 27:45 The FT’s role in highlighting the topics that should be relevant to their readers
  • 30:52 What do you think of Elon Musk buying Twitter?
  • 32:32 What role has failure played in your career?
  • 34:13 A piece advice for somebody taking on a new, big leadership position
  • 35:20 What next?

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