Telling the Story of a Storyteller: Samantha Barry Editor-in-Chief of Glamour
Updated: Nov 8, 2019
When Samantha Barry enters a room, her energy and light is impossible to ignore. She runs at a level of efficiency that would render Google Calendar completely obsolete; every thought, sentence and piece of advice that she shares is made clearly and concisely, with both passion and purpose. Sure, she’s got a killer fashion sense and cheekbones that put Meryl Streep to shame, but the positivity and professionalism that she radiates is absolutely contagious.
Samantha grew up in Cork, Ireland, which by North American standards would be considered nothing more than a mid-sized town. But as the second largest city in Ireland, it set the stage for Samantha to flourish into a bold, brave and innovative journalist. She credits some of her first primary school teachers for giving her confidence as a writer and public speaker, often recognizing the lessons that she learned as a young girl in school being reflected in the jobs that she’s had over the course of her impressive career in journalism.
As a young journalist, she travelled around the world; going from Papua New Guinea to Iraq to Nigeria, helping to tell the stories that the rest of us needed to hear. It was over the course of these travels that Samantha got to explore her natural curiosities of other people, places and lives by asking questions that matter.
It was also during this part of her career that she first understood that as a red-haired, freckled white woman entering a community far away from Cork, Ireland, she wasn’t always the right person to tell the story of the day.
“What was really important for me to learn very early on in my career - and I think I’ve taken into my job as an editor now - is that sometimes, the best person to tell the story is the person living in that community.”
Sharing the stories of other people is important (duh, it’s like half of what we do), but having the sensibility to know when it is or isn’t your place to do so is even more important. Like, when I have a funny joke but someone else tells it before me and gets all of the LOLs that I deserve, that’s not cool. So think of it like that - except instead of a stupid joke, it’s someone’s personal and precious life story that’s being retold. Ja feel?
Samantha’s next big career move took her to CNN, where she led the news team through the circus that was the 2016 Presidential campaign. Running on pure adrenaline most days, she worked from one piece of breaking news to the next which, as we know, meant she had a turn around time of about five minutes between bizzarre, offensive and straight up jaw-dropping stories. Imagine trying to cover that mess?!
Motivated as ever, Samantha wanted to bring a dimension of digital savviness to the stories that she told at CNN in order to specifically engage youth in ways that good old Wolf Blitzer just couldn’t. She managed to build a team of people to deliver news across various platforms and social media channels (although I still don’t really get what Kik is tbh) in the hopes that providing access to important stories would empower young people to chase success.
“Surrounding yourself, hiring and being an advocate for the people coming up under you and younger than you. Because really, they’re going to help you do your job better” she explains.
We think so too, Samantha. We think so too.
Ready for her next challenge, Samantha moved from one legacy news company to another and began her post as Editor-in-Chief at Glamour Magazine, which was a whole new world for Samantha because as a publication, it existed almost exclusively in print and not the digitally innovative forms of storytelling that she had been accustomed to.
So, in true #fenom form, she made some changes. Samantha knew Glamour was a well-established company that was ready for some fresh innovation to enhance the extraordinary women’s platform that it already represented. “I’ve learned a lot. I’ve made a lot of changes. But the core of what is important to Glamour - lifting women’s voices - remains,” she tells us.
She also brings an interesting perspective when it comes to mentorship and the importance of fostering young women at the beginning of their careers:
“I think that women in my position are extremely responsible for mentoring young women - but I also think men are.”
Like most of us, the people who gave Samantha her first real jobs were men - something that we’re trying to change, but for now remains a simple reality. Men still hold the majority of important executive positions, and are therefore responsible for joining women in fostering the development of the next generation of women executives.
So how do you, as a young woman, take the next step in your professional development? Well for one, you can sign up for FLIK’s Female Founder / Apprenticeship Portal. Samantha also recommends that you start to ask yourselves: what are you getting out of the job that you have now? How can you grow from it? Where will these experiences take you? Who do you know that can help you get there?
“Your peers will end up being some of, if not the most, significant people in the course of your career,” she explains, so cultivate those connections and capitalize! That holds whether you’re an analyst at an investment firm or a waitress at Cactus Club. You can use the assets and skills that you have to leverage yourself into your next professional move, and then you too might someday have a career (and cheekbones) as impressive as Samantha Barry’s.
Written by: Hannah Geiser