Featured Business Leader – Arianna Huffington
Every person follows a unique path to business – some have been passionate for many years, and others develop their passion in pursuit of another career or interest. There are, however, several business leaders who are able to follow their interests and build successful businesses from it. One such leader is Arianna Huffington, an accomplished writer and author who turned her name into one of the largest online news services in the world.
Born in Athens, Greece, Arianna Huffington moved to the United Kingdom at the age of 16 and studied economics at the prestigious Cambridge University. At the completion of her Masters degree, Arianna set up her life in London and worked towards becoming a writer – succeeding when she published her first book, entitled ‘The Female Woman’, in 1974. From there, she diversified – writing and publishing political, biographical and non-fiction books, before moving to the United States in 1980.
She continued her successful writing career whilst also growing her family, marrying politician Michael Huffington in 1986, and helping his campaigns for both the U.S House of Representatives and the U.S Senate whilst raising their two daughters. During this time, Arianna was also involved with small acting and writing projects within the entertainment industry. Though her and her husband Michael split in 1997, Arianna’s political drive continued, and in 2003 she elected to run for the Governor of California against Arnold Schwarzenegger (though she withdrew her campaign prior to election).
In 2005, Arianna Huffington began The Huffington Post, a news and blog site with co-founder Kenneth Lerer. Becoming the editor-in-chief of the newfound news source, The Huffington Post quickly grew in popularity due to its blogging community and its political articles – and it’s a popularity that continues to this day. The site has many dedicated fans, and a fantastic community of contributors from around the globe – previous guest writers include Ari Emanuel, Alec Baldwin, Larry David, Nora Ephron, and John Cusack.
As her website took off, Arianna Huffington’s enviable career as an author continued, and in 2007 she penned a novel entitled ‘On Becoming Fearless … in Love, Work, and Life’ – derived from her own experiences within her busy schedule and growing profile. She has been consistently recognised as a leading influencer in both the media industry and in business, and is listed in TIME Magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People’. Arianna Huffington is also 52nd on the Forbes list of the world’s most powerful women.
In 2011, The Huffington Post took another great leap in the business world, when the news provider was sold to AOL for over $300 million – but Arianna Huffington retained her position at the head of her business, becoming President and Editor-In-Chief of Huffington Post Media Group – a position she retains to this day. The site has grown from strength to strength – writer David Wood won the site a 2012 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting, and there are international editions of The Huffington Post found in several countries including Canada, Great Britain, France and Spain.
As of 2013, The Huffington Post had a readership of over 84 million, a huge feat for what has been called ‘the most powerful blog in the world’ – and the self-dubbed ‘online newspaper’ continues to evolve and change. Despite the media juggernaut she is responsible for, Arianna Huffington has continued to write books, as well as finding the time to speak about her extensive experience as a writer, businesswoman and influencer.
What do you think of Arianna Huffington’s story? Do you believe your passions can be translated into a strong business? I’d love to hear your views – let us know in the comments.
This article was written by Simone Ball on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article: Huffington Post, Wikipedia, Biography, Sydney Morning Herald and New Yorker.