Features - Alum of the Month
Abigail Tweed (née Attwood)
New York Programme
September 88 Intake
27 years ago, the Programme was quite different to what it is now…
What and where did you study before your Mountbatten internship?
I finished my A levels at school in Essex and started my internship just after my 18th birthday.
What made you apply for the Mountbatten programme?
My mum saw an advert in the paper and suggested I apply. When she was seeing me off at the airport, I think she had a moment of regret, as I had just turned 18 and while I was pretty independent, I had never ventured that far from home on my own!
Describe your sponsor company and your role within it.
I worked for Asprey, a UK based designer, manufacturer and retailer of jewellery, silverware, home goods, leather goods, timepieces, polo equipment, and a retailer of books. I was the receptionist, answering the phone and meeting and greeting people in their flagship store in Trump Tower, 5th Avenue, Manhattan.
What was the highlight/most memorable moment of your working experience during this year?
Working at Asprey opened my eyes to another world! Working for a company whose customers included Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, and other celebrities and royalty from all over the world was very exciting. The staff team were remarkable and caring; they looked after me and showed me how they worked with their clients. I learnt a lot about customer service and building individual relationships with your clients. I got the opportunity to look at rare books, beautiful and special pieces of jewellery and strange commissioned objects such as gold mining helmets! I also did some evening/weekend community activities, which included feeding a miniature poodle while her owner went away for the weekend, looking after an elderly lady and providing food for office workers in the evening.
What was the social highlight/most memorable moment during this year?
I had so many! I had a great group of friends and we spent many late nights and early mornings in New York’s wild late 80’s club scene dancing and hanging out. I have great memories of me and my friends Rebecca and Cathy dancing for hours in club basements, I remember often being shattered at my desk in work!
Please share a little wisdom/philosophy that you acquired during your internship.
Through my work in New York I learnt a lot about how the wealthy live. I also saw a lot of poverty and the great divide between different sections of US society. Making the effort to really engage with people, learn about them and see their point of view is important in life. I met so many people, from backgrounds that I could never have imagined and seeing the world through their eyes has given me valuable life lessons which I have used in my personal and work life. I took most opportunities that were given to me and hopefully became a little more street wise through those experiences. I also learnt how to travel around the world confidently on my own which has provided me with great benefits personally and within my work.
If you could change anything about your internship, what would it be?
I wish I had saved a little more money to take with me during my internship. While I did go away for some weekends, I could have explored more of the US if I had thought about those opportunities to travel and explore the country before I left the UK, and maybe raised a little more financial support.
What happened after completing the year - what did you do next?
I went to Liverpool John Moores University to study Applied Psychology, BSc Hons.
Where are you now in your working life and what do you do?
My work has been most recently within higher education, philanthropy and the arts. In the last few years I have done a number of interim roles, two of which were as Interim Director / Head of Development and Alumni Relations at Welsh Universities, and follow on roles in Higher Education developing strategic partnerships and public engagement strategy.
I established my consultancy business, Milestone Tweed Associates, in 2009 and work with handpicked associates to deliver a variety of contracts. I'm currently working on a number of projects: with Aberystwyth University, Clwyd Theatr Cymru and with Theatr Stiwt in Wrexham. I am also an Ambassador for the Community Foundation in Wales, an Associate to the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement supporting UK Universities in their public engagement strategies; and a Board Member of Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd, a local Housing Association. I like to balance my work life with my home life, I live on the Isle of Anglesey in north Wales with my husband and three children and I enjoy spending time at home with them.
Do you have any future plans that you would like to realise & what are they (career & social)?
I would like to continue to develop my consultancy business. I feel very fortunate to be working on interesting projects with great people and to have a good work / life balance so I can enjoy my time with my family. I would like to travel more with my family as I would love my children to experience travelling the world and enjoy different places, cultures and people.