The Woman Behind the Words:
An Interview with Tanya Kovarsky
By Michelle, age 16, South Africa
Tanya Kovarsky is the current editor of the South African edition of CLEO Magazine. Recently I was lucky enough to get an interview with her. She shared with me what it's like to head up one of SA's most loved magazine publications.
Where and what did you study?
I studied a bachelor of arts degree - one year at Wits University, and the last two at the University of Cape Town.
Did you ever have a career plan or did everything "just happen"?
After university and living in Israel for a year, it was a toss-up between journalism and teaching. I had always wanted to write though, and had more of an interest in journalism, so that's what I pursued. I didn't have a career plan", but one day, on someone's advice, I made a collage of things that I wanted to attain one day, and one of them included a contributor's picture in a magazine. (I dreamed of writing for a magazine and "appearing" in one as a writer.) So while it wasn't a set career plan, it was a dream that I worked towards. I don't think that things necessarily "happen", as corny as it sounds - one often has to make them happen.
What is a typical day like at CLEO, and what do your editorship duties entail?
I'm sure every editor will say that there is not one typical day. Duties include overseeing the running of the magazine and the team, planning each issue, proofing and signing off each issue, writing for the magazine, dealing with the various departments in the company (e.g., marketing, management, and sales), meeting with clients, going to functions, and doing any necessary PR work (e.g., radio interviews). Being up to date with trends and other magazines is also an important "duty".
What do you look for in people when you hire for CLEO?
I look for people who can write (naturally!) and who could probably be a team player and get on with everyone. I also look for a willingness to work hard, a love for magazines, plus a knowledge of the magazine that they want to work on. It's frightening how many people I've come across who've barely looked at the magazine.
Have you had any obstacles to overcome during the course of your career?
I wouldn't call them obstacles - just challenges, whether they were market related, or a difficult colleague, or my own self-doubts along the way.