Features - Alum of the Month

Paul Sykes

Paul Sykes

January 2013

New York Programme

January 2006 Intake


What and where did you study before your Mountbatten internship?
BA Geography, University of Leeds. Class of 2005.

What made you apply for the Mountbatten programme?
With a mild obsession in 80’s New York films (Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Die Hard with a Vengeance etc.) and after a 2001 visit to the city shortly after 9/11 I was smitten with the place and wanted to try working/studying there. Mountbatten gave me that opportunity.

Describe your sponsor company and your role within it.
I worked for ‘RBS Aviation Capital’ in the Park Avenue branch of the bank, and then later that year for the same business in the Greenwich Capital branch (Connecticut). The team I worked for specialised in financing/leasing aircraft to US and South American-based airlines as part of a wider global business. I supported the sales teams from many perspectives, including making the tea, all the way up to attending meetings with airline chief executives.

What was the highlight/most memorable moment of your working experience during this year?
I got to ‘work’ at the 2006 US Open golf at Winged Foot having befriended some of the nice marketing girls at the bank. I followed Colin Montgomery down his ill-fated 18th hole (needed a par 4 to win, walked off with a 6 after fudging a 6-Iron) and helped the corporate hospitality suite get rid of some excess food and drink stock. On a more serious note I worked with some of the most senior professionals in international aviation finance and still class many as valued friends and contacts today. My experience in New York provided a solid foundation in a niche market, and I am now in a fulfilling exciting career.

What was the social highlight/most memorable moment during this year?
I certainly can’t highlight one as there were too many! Playing football (sorry, Soccer) for the Manhattan Celtic all over the city with a few other interns was amazing, as was a last minute trip to Frankfurt to watch England in the World Cup. The boozy aftermath of going out of the World Cup on penalties was actually quite fun and about 20 gigs (Arctic Monkeys, The National, The Strokes, Raconteurs, Supergrass and Editors to name but a few..). There were the numerous nights I had at Dorian’s, a scary date with a Mafia bosses daughter and great trips to Boston, Washington, Atlantic City and Philly too… What a year!

Please share a little wisdom/philosophy that you acquired during your internship.
Even when times are hard, try to be nice to people no matter how senior or lowly in your organisation they/you are (you never know where people will end up!). Also – try and make some American friends – it is too easy to go over there and just stick with the same crowd of interns that you meet in the first couple of weeks.

If you could change anything about your internship, what would it be?
I wish it was longer! Maybe I would have done more of the touristy things and not run up such a big credit card bill.

What happened after completing the year - what did you do next?
After a 2-week holiday in Miami and the Bahamas with 2 fellow interns (Miles Ramsden & John Lohan), I took a job in RBS Dublin for 8 months, and subsequently in RBS London. After the bank made me redundant (sob), I worked for CHC - a Vancouver-based Helicopter Operator for 3 years before taking my current role in April this year.

Where are you now in your working life and what do you do?
I now work for GE Capital in London in their specialist corporate aircraft team. We finance Corporate Jets and Helicopters for Ultra-High Net Worth Individuals, Large corporates and Operators. I get to meet some very interesting people and visit many interesting places!

Do you have any future plans that you would like to realise & what are they (career & social)?
After doing the New York marathon in 2009 and vowing never to do anything so ridiculous ever again, I am setting the bar a bit lower now. Trying to buy a house and stay in the same area for more than a couple of years in the same job would be nice. My dream of lifting the FA cup as captain of Huddersfield Town also unfortunately appears to be over, although I still think I could do a job.