Features - Alum of the Month

Nira Desai

Nira Desai

January 2016

London Programme

September 2003 Intake


What and where did you study before your Mountbatten internship?
I studied at the University of Maryland and did a double degree – a BS in Marketing and a BA in Government and Politics.

What made you apply for the Mountbatten programme?
My senior year I did a study abroad semester in Rome and I was eager to get back to Europe. Mountbatten was a great way to get substantive work experience while also being able to travel all over Europe.

Describe your sponsor company and your role within it.
I worked at UBS Investment Bank in the Derivatives back office. I was part of a global team that helped to settle trade breaks (when funds are incorrectly moved or processed) and also did claim investigations and resolutions.

What was the highlight/most memorable moment of your working experience during this year?
I had an opportunity to present to the senior management team on the claims process that I had put in place that had had significant impact. It was extremely nerve-racking, but also a tremendous opportunity and also helped to highlight the Mountbatten interns!

What was the social highlight/most memorable moment during this year?
Several of the other Mountbattens and I did a trip across Eastern Europe. We visited six countries - Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Slovakia and Hungary and it is to this day one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever taken. We took a lot of overnight buses and trains and when we arrived in Sarajevo after a long night of being hassled by border patrol guards, we almost left because we had no place to stay. Luckily our hostel owner in Dubrovnik had called his friend in Sarajevo and he came to pick us up. We had an incredible few days there.

Please share a little wisdom/philosophy that you acquired during your internship.
I learned so many dynamics of working in an international environment. It showed me how much you could gain from others who have different backgrounds and work perspectives and to always listen more than you speak.

If you could change anything about your internship, what would it be?
I wouldn’t change a thing!

What happened after completing the year - what did you do next?
I moved back to New York and worked as an account manager and strategist for an experiential marketing company. I had the chance to continue working with global brands and help them on their greatest marketing challenges for over four years. In 2008, I was recruited to work on President Obama’s campaign and then moved to work in his administration on foreign policy strategy. In 2012, I returned to the UK to get my MBA.

Where are you now in your working life and what do you do?
I now run a strategy where ten global chocolate companies have committed to work on sustainability in their supply chains. This means the companies commit to helping the farmers and communities where their cocoa is produced. I get to travel to Europe and West Africa often and work directly with big brands, non-profits and governments.

Do you have any future plans that you would like to realise & what are they (career & social)?
I hope to continue to build my career in sustainability and to further thought leadership and innovation on how corporations can have a real impact in their supply chains.