Features - Alum of the Month

Katy (Bullock) Penman

Katy (Bullock) Penman

October 2012

New York Programme

September 99 Intake


What and where did you study before your Mountbatten internship?
MA (Hons) English Literature and French, Edinburgh and Paris, 1995-99

What made you apply for the Mountbatten programme?
I had been offered a graduate management traineeship as part of the milk round (those were the days) for a company I'd been working for on a part-time basis since I was 17.  I came across a short paragraph about the programme in my university careers library newsletter - I had popped in because I was worried about accepting the first and only job application I'd made and wanted to see what else was out there.  I negotiated a year's deferrment with my employers and had an interview for Mountbatten at Glasgow Airport - the rest is history!

Describe your sponsor company and your role within it.
I started off with a PA role at P&O Nedloyd (based opposite Meadowlands in NJ), but unfortunately the woman I was PAing for left the company abruptly on the Friday before my internship commenced and my role became somewhat redundant.  Four weeks of addressing FedEx packages, doing everyone's shredding and watching the Giants practice out of the window later, I found out about a French speaking intern role in the City and <short version> was lucky enough to be transferred to this new role. 
For the rest of my internship year I worked as a receptionist and executive assistant, initially for a hedge fund based in Midtown, then following my boss to his new role as VP in an internet business incubator.  We supported the development of companies producing exciting new tech products, including the Blackberry (concept through to prototype device stage), and VOIP, led by the company PhoneFree.com.  We floated on the NASDAQ on my birthday, which was super-exciting.  Outside of the tech business, my then-boss is also a board member of fashion house Hermes, so I got to arrange and sometimes attend lots of glitzy and exciting things like shop launches, polo, charity galas, concerts, dinners and handle phone calls from some very well-known people, and some people who have since become very well known. 

What was the highlight/most memorable moment of your working experience during this year?
Organising and attending the French-American polo challenge.  I had no previous experience of running events and polo was not somthing that a girl from a heavily concreted part of  Salford gets to experience very often.  Not being aware that A-listers prefer to arrive in a field by helicopter and not limo was something of a disadvantage. 

What was the social highlight/most memorable moment during this year?
Spending the turn of the millennium in New York at the Mountbatten Masked Ball.  The whole 48 hour period from the afternoon of the 31st, to the party in the GW penthouse, to the trip to Little Italy and the following day blowing off the cobwebs with the ferry to the World Trade Centre and the trip to the observation deck.  The photos I took on that day are amongst my most prized possessions.
Close second is my birthday trip to AC to see Tom Jones but the details of that one are staying in AC!

Please share a little wisdom/philosophy that you acquired during your internship
If you mess up, own up.  If you didn't do it, stand your corner and don't take the blame.  I learned that taking responsibility for things outside my sphere of influence and covering up for other people's mistakes are not an essential part of teamwork, but it's really only recently I've appreciated this wisdom.

If you could change anything about your internship, what would it be?
I would have made more of the contacts I made, especially now I run my own business in the fashion/accessories sphere.  If I still had Diane von Furstenberg on speed dial, I'm sure I'd be doing something much more glamourous these days!  Or at least be better dressed.

What happened after completing the year - what did you do next?
Although I was offered a permanent job in New York, I went back to the UK and took up my graduate traineeship to qualify as a store manager for Sainsburys.  After a serious illness, I decided to give something back, and went to work in the area of quality improvement for the NHS.

Where are you now in your working life and what do you do? 
I've been with the NHS for 10 years now, and have had a diverse career, all within quality assurance and improvement, including taking a national lead managing a programme of evidence gathering, standard setting, implementation and assessment in the field of cancer.  I now work in the field of public involvement, and arrange for members of the public, service users, voluntary organisation representatives and carers/family members to be involved in setting health policy.  I recently completed an MSc in Healthcare Informatics with the Royal College of Surgeons, in Edinburgh.
Since 2007, I have been involved in running a local business organisation, the Glasgow Craft Mafia, and make bespoke stationery and textile goods under the business name Girl Industries.  I've appeared on radio and tv a number of times talking about and demonstrating craft techniques.  My first crafting book is due out later this year, and I have self-published a number of inteview zines, as well as being featured in Garth Johnson's book, 1001 ideas for creative reuse.  Just before Christmas I chatted to Huey Morgan live on 6music about my other hobby, DJing, and the influence of New York on my favourite music.  I also organise regular events including markets, socials and networking.

Do you have any future plans that you would like to realise & what are they (career & social)? 
I'd like to continue working on my business alongside my day job, which I love, and juggle both around my growing family, I have a lively 22 month old called Amelia.  I'm currently trying to get an international conference for independent businesses established in Glasgow, and also looking for contributors to a travel zine project - please get in touch if you'd like to contribute a short piece on your home town, your favourite travel destination or a place you've always wanted to visit.  I'd be really interested to hear if other alumni have blogs or small businesses that we could cross promote, too.
I'd also like to get back to New York soon - I have family in Queens and lots of friends in Brooklyn and haven't been to visit since 2008 so I need to get a trip planned soon.  I want to walk along the High Line, see more 4AD artists from the 90s do stripped down acoustic sets in Joe's Pub, and walk past East Village Radio and wave in a very uncool way when Andy Joyce or Mark Ronson is on the air.  And take my little girl to the Central Park Zoo, on a ferry trip, and the tram to Roosevelt Island and show her that the Glasgow Subway isn't a patch on the New York version.