COMING face to face with Consuelo Mack, the renowned anchorwoman of the Wall Street Journal Report, is a daunting experience. Not because of that famous aggression with which she bulldozes business execs each week into giving her straight answers to her notoriously direct questions; but because of the complete lack of it. Off camera the business-like manner vanishes, there's no TV star ego, and the hard edge is nowhere to be found. What there is, is a petite, stylish lady with a ready sense of humour, a gently gregarious personality and a lot of time for everyone despitea merciless schedule. The purpose of her visit to Hong Kong has been to put together and launch the Asian Wall Street Journal Report, a new version of the Dow Jones programme aimed specifically at this region (launched on Monday on TVB Pearl). The professionalism that has secured her position as editor and anchor since 1987 of the award-winning, US finance programme became evident when she was called upon to speak at the launch of the new programme earlier this week. Two minutes before Ms Mack casually asked one of the PRs present of there was anything specific they wanted her to say. On being told no, she jotted down four one-word pointers on a memo pad, then stood up and spoke unhesitatingly for more than 10 minutes without notes, but with enthusiasm, originality and wit. Nor was she above sending herself up, referring resignedly to her famed rapid-fire speech and formidable manner. Mack said that the producer of the Asian Wall Street Journal Report had tactfully suggested that she might slow her speech down a tad for an audience largely comprising people for whom English was not a first language. ''They also mentioned my aggressive interviewing technique,'' she laughed, ''diplomatically suggesting my style could be less 'bold'. ''Slowing down the speech I'll try to remember, but the interview style stays. I'd have to have a lobotomy to change that.'' That's the voice, and aggressive interview technique out the way. The third question that everyone wants to ask Ms Mack is how she got the handle, Consuelo. ''No, there is no Spanish blood,'' she grinned. ''My ancestors are Scots. For some reason the name's been in the family for a few generations. I'd like to be more romantic about it, but basically we think someone just read a book - and now we're living with it.'' The road to Ms Mack's current success was winding rather than rocky. She's had strong ambitions from an early age and if the goals themselves changed on occasion the determination to succeed did not. ''The interest in finance came before the interest in journalism,'' she said. ''Although there was some background there, since both my grandfather and brother were journalists.'' After graduating in English literature, history and political science from the Sarah Lawrence College Ms Mack decided that finance was the world she wanted to be in. ''And I definitely wanted to be able to support myself,'' she said. ''I wanted to learn about finance and to be paid while I was trained. I also wanted to learn more about the 'man's world' side of it - which it certainly was considered to be, circa 1974. Anything to do with finance or business was strictly a man's domain.'' So, it was off to Wall Street, to be a trainee stockbroker at Merrill Lynch - ''today the job title would be account executive''. ''Basically, I had to 'cold call' customers,'' said Ms Mack. ''We were just given lists . . . and at that time the Dow Index was at about 400. People weren't quite jumping out of windows, but they were close. Seasoned professionals were getting out, and I was left trying to sell to people twice my age who knew more than me about the business.'' Ms Mack did reasonably well but soon found she didn't really have the thick skin that's required to do a job where you can lose people a fortune as quickly as winning them one. She moved to a smaller firm and moved towards journalism, at first, by chance. ''I was trained to be a stock analyst, which involved a lot of research, analysing investments, and talking to investors across the world about their economic policies. ''I soon discovered I was better at asking the questions,'' a discovery to which her avid viewers will attest. ''And it became basically a journalist's job on Wall Street.'' The next step was night-time courses on TV and press journalism. A colleague on the TV course needed someone to do a nightly market commentary on a tiny TV station in New Jersey - ''45 minutes there, 45 minutes back, several hours' work and a pittance laughably known as pay''. But within six months she knew this was where she wanted to be, and with 100 per cent support from her husband Walter Mack, she dropped out of the well-paid world of finance into a lowly reporting role for a fraction of the wage. As there had been when she decided to enter the man's world of high finance, there were many detractors from her new career path. ''Quite apart from the radical pay cut, professionals - both journalists and finance people - told me there was no market for business news on television. ''I was in my late 20s at the time, and they also said that was far too old to be trying to get started in television.'' THE one person who had no doubts was husband Walter. Nowadays he is the Deputy Police Commissioner of New York City; then he was a struggling federal prosecutor. ''I'd helped support him, and now he said it was his turn. I had to do this even if we had to go into debt.'' At this point Ms Mack is sidetracked into an enthusiastic account of how she and her husband first met. ''My cousin worked at the same law firm and he asked for a date,'' she laughs. ''She had just got engaged at the time - to someone I'd introduced her to, so she turned him down and offered me instead. He of course said oh great, you're dumping me with your cousin who can't get a date. He agreed reluctantly - but only to meet us for cocktails not dinner as well.'' They've been together since - hectic schedules on both sides permitting - and now have a five-year-old son called Ranger. Ranger? ''After the Lone Ranger of course,'' she grins. Actually his middle name, it's the name of the family's old home town and the boy's real name is Walter III - ''but with his father and grandfather in the house at the time, it seemed too confusing to call him that''. Yes, she was missing him during her time in Hong Kong, and where she once devoted any spare time to hobbies like tennis, swimming and reading - ''there's never enough time for that'' - now, all discretionary time is spent with husband and son. ''Five's agreat age, now we can swim, play tennis or ski as a family,'' she said. Finding time to read is still a problem, though she made the most of the long-haul flight to Hong Kong to catch up on some books while everyone else slept. As for Hong Kong, Ms Mack can hardly contain her excitement about the place. Surprisingly for someone so heavily involved in finance this is her first visit, though she did get a foretaste of what would be like. ''My mother, who loves New York - unlike me, who wouldn't be there if it wasn't necessary - came here last year and told me 'you have to go'. She said, 'It's as fast-paced as New York, but it's got all the positives of the city and none of the negatives'.'' Oddly, for a woman famed in the US for her extensive and stylish on-camera wardrobe, Ms Mack hasn't wasted what little spare time she's had in Hong Kong on the usual visitors obsession, shopping. ''I don't actually like shopping much,'' she shrugged. Instead she and Ken Witty, executive producer of the Wall Street Journal Report, crammed in a whistle-stop tour of the sights. So what does Ms Mack think of the place? ''I agree with my mother. I felt the buzz of Hong Kong straightaway and it's stayed with me. I've felt a drive here 24 hours a day that you don't see in New York. I think it's made me even faster-paced,'' she laughs, adding: ''If that's possible.''