Excellence by the Graham

CNBC President and CEO Pamela Thomas-Graham is worth her weight in gold as the highest-ranking African American in the ultracompetitive cable news industry

inked a deal with CNBC to provide a channel dedicated to live audio of CNBC’s Business Day–the shows airing between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday–programming.

The grandest effort in further establishing the CNBC brand will be complete in 2003: a new CNBC headquarters. Its $150 million, 300,000-sq.-ft. building, which will sit on a 22-acre plot of land in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, will house a high-tech newsroom capable of monitoring the global economy by capturing real-time data from 44 financial markets around the world.

Thomas-Graham, who thinks of her position at CNBC as her “dream job,” believes that having a life balance, something she learned from her mother, has helped her accomplish all that she has. “She barely sleeps,” exclaims Graham, who estimates that Thomas-Graham logs in an average of four and a half hours a night. “But she’s been that way since we were married.”

She makes good use of her waking hours outside of the job. She’s a devoted family woman, and also serves on the boards of the New York City Opera, the American Red Cross of Greater New York, the Inner City Scholarship Fund, and the Harvard Alumni Association. She has also found the time to become a best-selling mystery writer, having finished two of a three-book series published by Simon & Schuster (see “The President’s Other Passion” on www.blackenteprise.com).

Thomas-Graham has the life that she wants, and she has achieved it on her own terms. As for what she would say if she ever bumped into that high school guidance counselor: “I don’t think [anyone] should be in the business of dictating to people what their goals should be. We should be helping people to aim high and get as far as they possibly can.” Only time will tell how much higher Thomas-Graham will go in her career.

TITLE: President and CEO, CNBC;Executive Vice President, NBC
BORN: 1963, Detroit, Michigan
EDUCATION: B.A., Harvard University, M.B.A., Harvard Business School, J.D., Harvard Law School
FAMILY: Married to Lawrence Otis Graham, attorney and writer; one son, 3 years old
RESIDENCE: Chappaqua, New York
FAVORITE NOVEL: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
FAVORITE NBC SHOWS: The West Wing and Frasier
FIRST CAREER AMBITION: Lawyer
FAVORITE MUSIC: Jazz
WORDS USED TO DESCRIBE HERSELF: Determined, ethical, compassionate
IF HER OFFICE CAUGHT FIRE SHE WOULD RUN IN TO SAVE: The photos of her family and friends
HIDDEN TALENT: Acting and singing
MOST PRIZED POSSESSION: Her wedding ring

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