Alum of the Month

Nick Coombes

Nick Coombes

June 2017

New York Program

January 2004 Intake

What and where did you study before your Mountbatten internship?
Anthropology at Oxford Brookes University.

What made you apply for the Mountbatten programme?
I'd never been to the USA and always wondered what New York was actually like, so it seemed too good an opportunity to miss. I heard someone talking about it at a party, so I spent the next day filling in all the application forms at work.

Describe your placement.
I was a data collector at Zagat who publish the famous restaurant guides. The job involved calling venues in the different books they produce to check all the listings information was correct. So a fairly straightforward role, but it was a fun company to work for with some great people.

What was the highlight/most memorable moment of your placement during this year?
Most of the time we were just on the phone so there weren’t many highlights, though I did hit the winning runs for the work softball team– does that count?

What was the social highlight/most memorable moment during this year?
Hard to pick one memory but we did loads of good weekend trips to places like DC, Boston, Montreal and the Catskills. Each had their moments!

Please share a little wisdom/philosophy that you acquired during your internship.
Don't sweat the small stuff (I think Michael Billet said that?!). Also, as a graduate you expect employers to give you really important roles and instantly recognise your obvious genius. Junior positions are rarely amazing so just get on with your job, make the best of it and spot the opportunities. Plus, I discovered you can get by on 10 days holiday a year.

If you could change anything about your internship, what would it be?
If they could somehow have given us apartments actually in NYC, that would have been great!

What happened after completing the year - what did you do next?
Immediately afterwards I did what lots of people do and went travelling on the West coast with some friends. The return to the UK was quite hard, and I spent ages doing temporary office work while job hunting. I eventually got a job at Bloomberg TV which had a big impact on me, not least because I was made redundant after only 6 months!

After leaving Bloomberg, I spent a few months wondering what to do next and applied for a few jobs. I remember sitting in an interview realising how dull the job was and that the idea of another position as a small cog in a big machine without any kind of influence wasn’t very appealing. I then began thinking about going freelance and started to make videos for friend’s businesses which made me realise I could survive independently. So I operated for about 18 months as a sole trader, slowly gaining more clients and growing my network. Eventually one of our clients said I needed to become a Limited Company to be on their supplier’s list, so I set up as Bouche Media in 2012, a video production business making content for businesses and brands. We are now based in Shoreditch.

How did you set about getting established?
I still feel like we’re getting established. The legal stuff is the easiest part, it’s pretty low cost and can be done in a few hours online. Getting a network of repeat clients with a pipeline of steady work is the key, and this took years. I found that all the people you meet, events you go to and marketing you do (creating a website etc) don’t usually have instant results but they all contribute to building your brand. It can be really hard as you’re creating something from nothing, so you have to chase every opportunity however unlikely it seems and make it all happen yourself.

What has been the greatest achievement in your professional life to date?
It sounds small but taking on the first Bouche employee was a big moment, being responsible for their career and livelihood felt like a big responsibility but also an achievement that someone wanted to join something I had created.

Do you have any future plans that you would like to realise & what are they (career & social)?
I want to grow the business and bring more really great people into the team. Also fishing trips to New Zealand and Montana.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Lazy, deluded, hungry.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I took my fly-fishing rod and Dinner Jacket to New York and used both.

Nick can be contacted at