Reporter, Journalist, Podcaster, Reykjavík, Iceland

Top descriptives about Iceland include: fair (Iceland is a country with the world’s smallest gender pay gap), safe (Iceland boasts the lowest crime rates in the world with a murder rate of 0-1,5 per year, none that involve a firearm; one man has been shot by the police, EVER), peace-loving (Iceland has never had a military, or entered into a conflict), erudite (Iceland has a higher percentage of writers in its population than any other country in the world, Icelanders publish the most books per capita), classless (97% of Icelanders describe themselves as middle class). I was interested to get some intel from an investigative journalist in a country where population is just over 300,000. In my opinion one must be brave to take on issues and pursue leads in a society where there are few degrees of separation between its citizens. Please meet Ms. Arnardóttir, a multi-tasking mother, reporter and an entrepreneur.

1. Name.

Helga Arnardóttir.

2. Where is your hometown?

Reykjavík in Iceland.

3. What is your profession/career/title/self-label/designation?

I am a broadcast journalist and a podcaster at the moment.

4. What was the journey like to get where you are (in life and career-wise)? What are some accomplishments you’re most proud of, and what was the turning point to set you on a current path in life?

Being a news reporter in a competitive environment was often very difficult but I never wanted to stop because I had this driving force within me to become a successful journalist. When I look back I think true passion for journalism, support from my mother, grit and stubbornness took me very far.  I am most proud of the eight episode series on scientific health, Lifum Lengur (Living longer) I made in January this year, not only because of the constructive material, but I produced it all by myself with my partner. That was a victory for a woman who never thought she could do anything like that.  That was the turning point in my carrier.

5. What did you study in school?

I have a BA-degree in French and political science and a MA-degree in International Journalism from the City University of London.

6. How is your life different from what you pictured at 20?

I never imagined becoming an independent television and film producer along with my partner and film director Bragi Þór Hinriksson, and owning my own company. That’s something you don’t believe will happen when you are 20 years old.  

7. Was there a time when life knocked you down or out and how did you get back up on your feet?

When I look back at my 15-year news reporting career, I remember many moments when I felt “knocked down”.  I always had grit and I don’t easily give up in difficult circumstances. I believe that when you feel knocked down just stay down for a moment, talk to your friends and people you trust, recognize the feeling and get up again when you’ve recovered. That’s my way.

8. Advice for other women?

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. You can do everything only if you want to.  It’s sometimes hard and difficult but if men can do it, so can you!

9. Knowing what we know now in current political climate, can women be "all that we can be" in today's world? What is the way forward, as you see it, for "feminist values"?

I am very grateful for being born in Iceland where women are equal to men by law. As a woman in Iceland I feel that I can do whatever I wish to do professionally. However the pay gap is still a problem and we need more women leading Icelandic companies. I also think it’s very important that in Iceland you don’t have to choose between having a family and a career. The maternity- and paternity leaves gives parents the opportunity to spend time with their newborns without loosing their jobs. That is the most essential part of equality.

10. Where in the world do you feel “tallest” (i.e. where is your happy place)?

I feel happiest in the arms of my partner and soulmate with my children around me. That’s a true happy place.

11. What extra-curricular activities/hobbies are you most proud of? Why?

I have been writing a children story since 2012 in my free time and I recently got the news that it will be published the fall of 2019. I am very proud of that.

12. What do you want to be when you grow up? Future goals/challenges?

I want to talk to more people and make more television documentaries about people. Then I have a dream of becoming a screenwriter and make my own film.  

13. What fears are you still hoping to overcome?

Constant life fears for myself and my daughter. That’s an every day challenge.   

14. Anything you'd do differently, if you had another go at life?

I have no regrets, I try never to look back and I think I’m very lucky to have discovered early what I wanted to do in my life and career.  That’s valuable and something one shouldn’t take for granted; to know your passion takes you very far.

15. What inspires you?

People and stories inspire me.

16. What are you hopeful about?

I am hopeful we will wake up soon and rethink our environmental behavior towards our earth and acknowledge climate change as a serious problem.

17. What are some ingredients to a good life?

To be loved and have financial stability so you can put food on your table and feed your family.

18. What is a quality you most love about yourself and why?

I am very adaptable to change. I think that’s a good thing because life is always changing and taking you down unknown and different paths.

19. What advice would you give your 14-year-old self?

Please be patient.

20. What are you reading now? (what books do you gift most and what are your favourite reads?)

I am now reading The Blue Zones Solution and Blue Zones Happiness by Dan Buettner. I adore books on health and how we can live to reach hundred. That will be my next television documentary project.

21. Who is a WOW Woman in your world who inspires you and why? Can you nominate three (or more) women you know who perfectly fit WOW WOMAN description? What would you tell them, if you had an opportunity, why you admire them? 

The first is Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, Iceland’s first female president in 1980. I have always admired her independence and strength in a male-dominant administration. She is a role model to many Icelandic women.

The second is our current Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir. She is also admirable politician who has a strong human connection to people.

The third woman is Oprah Winfrey whom I absolutely adore and listen to everyday. What I admire from her work is her independence and strong will to follow her own path and ideas. I highly recommend her podcast SuperSoul Conversations.

22. Where can others find you/your work (links to websites, blogs, etc.)?

Lifum Lengur podcast.