Alum of the Month
Duncan Manhattan (McKie)
New York Program
March 2010 Intake
What and where did you study before your Mountbatten internship?
MEng Civil Engineering with French at University of Sheffield
/ INSA Lyon
What made you apply for the Mountbatten programme?
While I was at university, my mum & sister both became seriously ill for different reasons and over the course of 6 months I thought I might lose both of them. When I went back to university and finally graduated, my priorities had changed and my boyhood dreams of being an engineer seemed too safe. I didn't know what I wanted to do next, but I knew that New York was where I wanted to do it. Mountbatten gave me a chance to try something completely new without being out there on my own.
Describe your sponsor company and your role within it.
Global Loss Prevention were an internal consultancy arm of AIG (one of the world's biggest insurance companies) and based just off Wall Street. I had 12 months to design & build a system for managing employee onboarding, systems access and hardware provisioning. It was an incredibly complex project, touching every area of the business, and leveraging skills I never knew I had, but my managers took me under their wings and taught me a huge amount about business analysis, quality management, folk music and American beers, and somehow I delivered it successfully!
What was the highlight/most memorable moment of your working experience during this year?
The people I worked with were great - they were accustomed to having Mountbatten interns and knew how to look after us. They put in the time and effort to help us develop professionally, cared about us individually, and went out of their way to make our time in New York memorable. I never expected to be invited to weddings, Mermaid Parades, or weekends in the Catskills, but they treated me like one of the family. One of the coolest experiences was a team visit to the private observatory at the top of the American International Building - standing on a tiny open-air balcony at the top of what was then the tallest building in downtown Manhattan was breathtaking, and something that very few people get to do.
What was the social highlight/most memorable moment during this year?
I had so many unforgettable experiences, but the July 4th weekend was just incredible: raving in the sunshine at PS1 (a school turned art gallery in Long Island City); riding the A train to the end of the line to go night swimming at Far Rockaway; meeting my favourite DJ at Brooklyn Fireproof (a door factory turned film studio in Bushwick); a ring-side view of the fireworks over the Hudson from the roof of our apartment building; and escaping to the beaches of the Jersey Shore in a Mustang convertible.
Please share a little wisdom/philosophy that you acquired during your internship.
Sometimes in life, the brightest things can come out of the darkest of places. If it wasn’t for nearly losing my sister, I never would have decided to go to New York, never would have met the love of my life (a fellow Mountbatten), and we would never have gone on to start such an amazing family.
If you could change anything about your internship, what would it be?
Fewer ramen noodles ;)
What happened after completing the year - what did you do next?
I moved back to London and used the technical skills I'd learned during my internship to get a job with a little website called Gumtree. As the only analyst in the company, I was able to learn about all of the areas involved in running a rapidly growing online business. With the team expanding from 1 to 8 analysts I decided to specialise in analytics, big data and business intelligence, and within a few years I went from knowing nothing about web analytics to managing web and app analytics globally for >70 of eBay Classifieds Group’s platforms.
Where are you now in your working life and what do you do?
I now work for Google as a Data Activation Lead in their Premium Services team, helping some of their 30 biggest global advertisers bring together marketing technology, cloud computing and machine learning to interact with their customers in new and innovative ways. In the last 3 weeks I've been in conversations around Google Home, chatbots, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and (of course) GDPR. It's incredibly diverse, exciting, and mentally demanding, and a world away from where I imagined I'd be 10 years ago.
Do you have any future plans that you would like to realise & what are they (career & social)?
One day I'd like to be running an analytics consultancy, but in 2018 I’ll hopefully be moving to a new city, renovating a house, getting my '66 Mustang Coupe back on the road, and taking 6 months off work to welcome my second child into the world, so career goals will have to wait :)