Monika Samtani is a familiar face in the D.C. area for early risers: She’s the morning traffic anchor on WUSA9. Tracking and reporting the good, bad and downright ugly updates on D.C. traffic is not for the faint of heart, and Monika is up for the challenge.
She doesn’t just tell us what we can expect from the morning rush hour, she also produces a segment called The Extra Mile. In that segment, Monika presents stories about all things transportation, from Metro escalators to speed cameras to progress on the Silver Line. This month, she’ll be featuring Teen Driver Safety Week from Oct. 20-26.
Monika certainly earned her position, but she still considers herself lucky to work with such a great team at WUSA9. She’s in her element for sure: “I always knew I wanted to be in broadcasting.” She remembers her mother encouraging her to sing and dance onstage and “loved being on camera.”
Monika has worked in broadcasting since she was 17 and did weekend cable news. In spite of her father’s efforts to sign her up for pre-med at George Washington University, Monika never strayed from her vision, including a visit to the registrar to change her major after a few science courses proved that pre-med was not her calling.
She has to love her job to get up at 2:30 a.m. and be “live” in our homes at 4:25. Monika says her early mornings actually give her a boost to push hard during the rest of her long workdays and still make time for her family.
Monika is a mom of three so, like all parents, she has become a master of time management. Her priorities start with her family, and she’s worked hard to be sure she’s there for them while still keeping her personal ambitions in clear sight.
In 2001, she was expecting her third child and was the traffic reporter and fill-in anchor at WUSA9. She was on air on Sept. 11. That day was tough for all newscasters, and Monika won an award for her coverage of the attacks. Soon after, however, she decided to leave that job, much to the shock of friends and colleagues. Monika simply knew she wanted to spend more time with her kids.
Monika’s story is inspiring for moms who strive to find a balance between kids and career. She knew leaving her coveted anchor position didn’t have to mean the end of a career. For her, it became a next step. Monika stayed home but never really stopped working. She just stopped working hours that didn’t accommodate her growing family. While she was home with her kids, she had her feelers out for opportunities and used her skills and experience wisely.
Monika kept up her broadcast skills by freelancing with government agencies on industrials (videos that businesses use internally). She also followed what she calls her family’s “entrepreneurial spirit” and founded Ms. Media, a business that produces videos and trains people how to handle themselves on camera.
There’s no mistaking Monika’s success for luck. She has always pushed herself, but she gives credit to the great people and companies involved in her career. Knowing how important these influences have been to her, she established a women’s networking organization: Launch Network.
Launch Network does just that: It helps women launch their businesses by networking with other small-business owners and with successful entrepreneurs who share their experience and advice. Collaborating with women entrepreneurs at all levels of success and experience has left Monika in awe of how much value women have to offer the marketplace.
Arguably, Monika is at the top of her game, but she’ll be the first to tell you she’s just getting started. After 20 years in broadcasting, she’s anything but complacent. She’s always looking forward in her career, and she believes women are “poised to make a real difference in business.”
We are fortunate to have a mompreneur like Monika right there with us supporting our efforts and sharing her successes! Keep track of Monika’s great work: Follow her on Twitter @MonikaOn9, @LaunchNetworkDC and Monika Samtani on Facebook.
Cynda Zurfluh is a mother of three. Her previous life was a corporate blur of meetings and marketing. Her current life, while still a blur, is all about family, writing, and small-business consulting. Contact her at [email protected]