Alum of the Month
New York Program
May 2005 Intake
What and where did you study before your Mountbatten internship?
Brunel University London, BSc. E-Commerce (Brunel School of Business & Management)
What made you apply for the Mountbatten programme?
After graduating from university, I aspired to travel and combine it with an opportunity to kick off my career. I came across Mountbatten by searching online, and instantly was drawn to what it offered. Not only did it meet my aspirations but also a chance to develop personally and professionally within a structured and prestigious education and internship program in a city such as New York. I had nothing to lose at the time and was over the moon when I got accepted and then was put forward and eventually offered an internship position at American Express.
Describe your sponsor company and your role within it.
American Express is a Fortune 500 global company and a well known brand in financial and payments services. I worked as a business analyst within it's old private banking business. I managed the reporting of IT projects by analyzing project phases and providing regular reports to management and it's steering committee. I also supported project managers through research and data analysis to help with decision making on different parts of project lifecycles.
What was the highlight/most memorable moment of your working experience during this year?
Overall, it was the opportunity to work for a prestigious global brand such as American Express especially at their HQ in downtown Manhattan. I felt proud to have my foot in the door and seeing myself learn new skills in the course of that year. I felt lucky to be there and it shaped my outlook and furture career aspirations. That one year experience in New York, has really paved the way for getting to where I am today, 13 years later.
What was the social highlight/most memorable moment during this year?
As a basketball enthusiast, I shared an apartment with another basketball fan. The company he worked for owned corporate seats for New York Knicks games at Madison Square Gardens. I was fortunate to see the Knicks play multiple times during that year. I will never forget the great atmosphere of NBA games at Madison Square Gardens and wish I could have the chance to do that again now.
Please share a little wisdom/philosophy that you acquired during your internship
We all have to start somewhere and be willing to grow and develop our skills. I started my internship feeling overwhelmed and felt I was not cut out for that environment but with perseverance and keeping a positive attitude, I was able to unlock potential, learn new skills or produce things I never expected I could accomplish. We ultimately own our career path and as an intern, you have the best opportunity to learn and try new things and drive value in any way you can. A strong work ethic and an open mind never goes unnoticed too. As they say, “you’re not learning if you’re comfortable”, as well as “do things with a passion or not at all”.
If you could change anything about your internship, what would it be?
I probably should have explored New York a lot more than I did. The city has so much to offer and do but the year went by so quickly and before I knew it, it was time to go home.
What happened after completing the year - what did you do next?
Before completing the year, I began to look for permanent opportunities in Amex UK and set up a few interviews. Two months after returning home, I started a permanent role within the Commercial Payments business as an Assistant Marketing Manager. Here I was responsible for the B2B marketing of our Commercial Cards Reporting products across EMEA. I worked at Amex in London for 6 more years at different roles; such as a Relationship Manager for UK Key Merchants and Travel Management Companies, as well as Business Development Manager for Strategic Network partners in Switzerland and Middle East.
Where are you now in your working life and what do you do?
In 2012, I was hired by Discover Financial Services where I spent 4 years managing marketing programs and initiatives to support merchant acceptance growth in Europe. In 2016, I relocated to Singapore with my wife and 2 year old son to lead our marketing team for the APAC region. It’s a similar role to what I did for Europe but with increased responsibility of managing the entire region focusing on supporting acceptance growth as well as lead a slightly larger team. I’ve been doing this role for a year and half now and have enjoyed the new challenge so far, including our new Asia adventure as a family and settling down into our new home in Singapore.
Do you have any future plans that you would like to realise & what are they (career & social)?
Career wise, I want to continue growing and developing my leadership skills. I enjoy marketing and am strong in relationship management so my role has a good mix of both but there is always more room to grow and make a difference so I feel like I am constantly learning and developing. Being in Asia, the payments industry is very fast paced with emerging players and technology, I need to keep up with what's going on whether it's on the job or in my own time through research and training. Personally, I want to ensure I take the opportunity to visit and explore as many places within the region with my family so I always need to find the balance of work and family/personal life.
Is there any other information that you would like to be included?
I wholeheartedly recommend this experience to everybody, new graduates or those with some work experience, to consider the Mountbatten Program as an option when deciding on your next chapter in life. It’s a great way to develop personally and professionally and live and work in a city such as New York.
Ray can be contacted via Linkedin:- https://www.linkedin.com/in/raymundrodriguez/