PROFILE: Street-fighting woman - Claudia Jay, Managing director, TheStreet.co.uk

Claudia Jay is a driven woman. When I meet her at the offices of her PR company in EC2 - she has yet to find her own - Jay is barely a week into her post as managing director of TheStreet.co.uk, the UK arm of US online financial service, TheStreet.com.

Claudia Jay is a driven woman. When I meet her at the offices of

her PR company in EC2 - she has yet to find her own - Jay is barely a

week into her post as managing director of TheStreet.co.uk, the UK arm

of US online financial service, TheStreet.com.



’I joined a week ago on Monday - this is day eight,’ she pronounces like

a general running a military campaign.



With a pounds 10m war chest Jay’s remit is to establish the business as

’the UK’s largest financial news and commentary web site’ inside a year,

beginning with a launch in the first quarter of 2000.



This seems like a tall order given that, up until six days ago, Jay was

technically the company’s only employee and the UK start-up has yet to

find permanent offices - the company has since signed Kevin English as

chairman and Martin Baker, an associate editor of the Sunday Business as

its editor-in-chief.



It’s certainly been a hectic eight days: ’I’m living on e-mail and the

mobile at the moment. We’re looking at space but for the moment we’re

camping - appropriately enough on Fleet Street.’



Jay has spent the past week conducting wall-to-wall interviews, both for

the media and prospective employees. ’I’m either interviewing or being

interviewed - sometimes I forget which mode I’m supposed to be in.’



The company last week appointed Mustoe Merriman Herring Levy and media

agency Motive to handle its pounds 5m launch. But how is TheStreet going

to sell the worthy-but-dull topic of financial information to

consumers?



’The traditional style of the financial press is a bit straight - we’ll

be very irreverent and that will be reflected in the campaign. It’ll be

anything but dull. It’ll be fun and sharp and have a poke at other

people’s weaknesses.’



The company has some heavyweight backing and 90,000 subscribers in the

US - but TheStreet will have its work cut out, differentiating itself in

what is one of the most competitive sectors on the internet. Jay

maintains TheStreet will have a distinct character and place in the

market.



’Most services are either broad financial services or personal finance

sites. We’ll be absolutely different. Bloomberg and Reuters are aimed

much more at professional institutional investors. We’re targeting

private investors, providing them with up-to-date actionable

information.’



Although just 28, Jay has a wealth of experience - at least in terms of

the nascent world of the internet - and an intimidating looking CV.



Having decided against a job in journalism - ’I didn’t like people

reading what I’d written’ - Jay started her career at management

consultant McKinsey as a business analyst.



Quite a change from her days at Oxford, reading English and the

decidedly non-conformist Yeats. ’McKinsey gave me a broad brush across

industry sectors, while I worked out what I wanted to do,’ she says. ’It

also taught me how to assess an opportunity fast, which was useful when

they wanted a decision for this job.’



After McKinsey came a spell as a strategic information analyst at

Pearson - before Jay took a year out to do an MBA at Insead. From there,

she went back to Pearson and, in 1998, was appointed as head of product

development at FT.com. There she oversaw the launch of its first foray

into e-commerce, The Global Archive. Her time there sold her on the

benefits of the internet: ’It’s a fantastic media for particular things

but it’s been used a bit indiscriminately in the past. It allows you the

brilliant analysis of print with the immediacy of broadcast.’



Those who have worked with her describe her as a player with the

ability, confidence and charm to bring people along with her. ’She’s got

the right training and education behind her,’ says one former colleague.

’She makes all the right noises. Claudia’s a politician. She knows how

to get her own way - she gets away with it because she’s a great

personality, very charismatic.’



If her career has been fast moving, her social life hardly seems less

so. Jay cites hobbies, including sailing in the Greek Islands and’a

tendency to go on slightly crazy holidays’, including, earlier this

year, riding horseback over remote parts of Africa.



She admits to being ’surprisingly good at darts’, a throw-back to her

university days when she lived with three blokes.



In fact, sickeningly, the only thing she seems remotely bad at is

tennis, where, she says, she constantly loses to her family.



It’s hard to imagine anyone getting the better of her in anything - but

then her family are hardly what you’d call under-achievers. Her uncle is

BBC economics editor Peter Jay and her father ran a marine services

company. And that’s not all.



Her sister works at the Treasury and her brother is a management

consultant.



’I come from a very competitive family - I’m probably the least

competitive,’ she says.



Jay maintains that her background has had a ’neutral’ effect although

her father is still ’a great informal advisor’.



So just what is her secret? ’I’m a deeply open person,’ she proffers,

’secrets aren’t my bag. I was a singularly unambitious five-year-old - I

just wanted to have more toys than my sister.’



Biography

1992-1994

Business analyst, McKinsey & Company

1994-1996

Strategic information analyst, Pearson plc

1996-1997

Insead MBA Programme

1997-1998

Strategy and development executive,FT.com

1999

Managing director, TheStreet.co.uk



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