Features - Alum of the Month
New York Programme
March 2014 Intake
What and where did you study before your Mountbatten internship?
I studied Law at Queen Mary University.
What made you apply for the Mountbatten programme?
To be honest I applied on a whim. I had spent a lot of time previously in New York as a model but I had never worked in the corporate world out there. I heard about Mountbatten during university days but the thought of sharing a room with someone I didn't know sounded like my worst nightmare, so I never applied! A few years after graduating I decided I wanted to take my career to the next level. Interestingly enough, around the same time a friend told me that Mountbatten was accepting applications. I had about a week to get my application together before the deadline, which I did, and the rest is history!
Describe your sponsor company and your role within it.
I worked at Thomson Reuters as a Digital Content Manager. My role involved managing one of their financial blogs, running all of its social media and project managing various marketing campaigns. I also worked as a Lifestyle Reporter covering events like New York Fashion Week and interviewing designers. I got the second role myself because of my fashion background and also because I kept hounding all of the journalists and producers at Reuters to give me a chance. It worked!
What was the highlight/most memorable moment of your working experience during this year?
One highlight was getting to interview Diane von Fürstenberg for Reuters. I spoke to her about her book and received some great entrepreneurial advice. She is fashion royalty and an all round girl boss so that was pretty inspirational. Another highlight was when I headed a media event overlooking Central Park. I'd never held an event before so I was pretty proud of myself. It was a huge success and it helped that there was quite a bit leftover on our tab so we drank Dom Pérignon all night to celebrate!
What was the social highlight/most memorable moment during this year?
I have so many but here are a few! I made some great friends at work who Im still close with. We had a few crazy nights, particularly during the World Cup! Also my two friends Yasmin and Samiya made my time much more enjoyable. Our trip to Toronto for Caribana carnival was literally a movie. My besties from back home flew out to Miami for my 25th birthday, so that was also a memorable trip. From dinners on rooftops, to relaxing on the beach and eating some real good food, that Miami trip was everything and more! All Star weekend was another one for the books and all of the sample sales I found! Yes, I was and still AM the sample sale queen - who said you can't be fly on a budget? Finally, I had a lot of fun times with the girls I lived with during my first 6 months on the program. Those ladies were the best housemates I could have wished for. We all got on so well and I remain in contact with them too.
Please share a little wisdom/philosophy that you acquired during your internship.
It's easy to cling on to other Mountbattens as you are all going through the same experience, but widen your circle with others too because New York is all about networking. I also learnt how to manage everything well. If it meant taking my own lunch to work for a year so I could enjoy other parts of the city I would do just that!
Also a piece of advice I wish I was given is DO NOT beat yourself up if you don't get your "dream job" right after Mountbatten. Mountbatten will definitely increase your career options but don't expect any handouts, you still have to work hard for what you want!
If you could change anything about your internship, what would it be?
The obvious things to say would be to have more money, your own space but we all know the deal before we sign up. Overall it was a great experience. I learnt so much about myself and my capabilities, so I wouldn't change anything because my experiences have all added to the person I am today.
What happened after completing the year - what did you do next?
After completing the year I started working for an electronics company as a Content Specialist simply because I needed to pay the bills! It was about as glamorous as it sounds. I also continued to contract for Reuters as a reporter covering events such as Africa Fashion Week and London Fashion Week. This year I also launched my own e-commerce fashion accessories brand, called ZI & LUWA.
Where are you now in your working life and what do you do?
At the moment one of my main focuses is my company ZI & LUWA. Myself and my business partner work around the clock on pretty much everything from designing, to social, to content etc. so a lot of my time is consumed by that.
However I have not forgotten my passion for journalism, so I will be moving back to New York permanently in the next few months to work in that field. Since I was young it was my dream to build my career in New York so when Mountbatten came to an end I was determined to get back out there. I'm really looking forward to living that dream and pushing my career in an exciting direction.
Do you have any future plans that you would like to realise & what are they (career & social)?
I'm excited for what the future holds for my company. With my business partner based in London and my move to New York fast approaching we believe that the opportunities are endless. Getting stocked in stores globally is one of our main goals right now. We also know that the digital world is currently at such an exciting place. People are becoming entrepreneurs simply by running their businesses online or putting videos on YouTube, so there are so many exciting avenues for us to tap into and explore.
Ultimately I want to excel in my career but I do know that there is much more to life than my career and fashion - like happiness, good health/well-being and helping others. Ultimately I want to have an impact in people's lives and the world. I'm interested in giving back to my community and I hope that my career choices will enable me to be a mentor to young women, particularly young women of colour. I want to encourage them to be the great women that has God called them to be. So if I can do all that I'll be happy, but who knows what other great things the future holds!
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Dreamer, creative and a go-getter.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
People are often surprised when they hear me speak because I am originally from Liverpool. My accent is not as strong as a typical Scousers because I haven't lived there for a decade and I rarely go back, but it is very much still there!
Is there any other information that you would like to be included?
If you are interested in collaborating with ZI & LUWA in any way or want to discuss possible PR, advertising or distribution opportunities please do email me at email@example.com. You can also follow our journey on Instagram and Twitter (@ziandluwa).
Also I'm always happy to get involved in journalism projects if it is the right fit for me. So do email me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to discuss anything along those lines. Keep an eye out for my new lifestyle blog Simply Ngo which will be launching soon too.