• Firm Leadership

9 Pieces of Career Advice From Successful Women in Finance

Morgan Stanley women share how they are navigating through and thriving in the competitive world of financial services.

1. Preparation is More Powerful Than Perfection

Rather than strive for perfection, you’ll be much better off striving to be as prepared as you can be. I've always done my homework and tried to anticipate what might be next. The more planning you do, the more you’ll be successful in both the workplace and at home.
Clare Woodman Chief Operating Officer, Institutional Securities Group View Profile

2. Be Open to New Opportunities

When I started my career, I often avoided situations that put me outside of my comfort zone. Once I learned to embrace a bit of discomfort, my confidence quickly increased and I realized that these situations weren’t challenges, but opportunities—and they often became my best learning experiences, as well as my most rewarding professional achievements.
Alison Nest Executive Director, Investment Solutions, Wealth Management

3. Networking is About Giving Help, Not Just Getting It

Networking isn't just about meeting people to get career help. It's also about meeting others that you can help. We always remember those who have gone out of their way to be helpful. Also, people move around and you never know where they will land. So make an impression that you are a 'go to' person who can be relied on for help, and you’ll find your kindness repaid in a million ways.
Joan Steinberg Managing Director, Global Head of Philanthropy

4. You Need a Dream, A Goal and Passion

First, you need to have a dream; second an idea of what your goal is and third, passion. Obviously having the skill set and working hard are important, but if you don’t have a dream and a goal, then don’t be surprised when you don’t get there. And if you don’t fill your dream with passion, then you can become disheartened about your career choice during the tough times. And there are always tough times in a cyclical business like finance.
Wei Sun Christianson CEO Morgan Stanley China, Co-CEO Morgan Stanley Asia Pacific View Profile

5. Admit Your Mistakes

My boss once told me to always have the strength to admit when I’m wrong. There’s nothing more intimidating than realizing you’ve made a mistake, and it takes a lot of confidence and courage to admit it. Just remember that we’re all human, and it’s better to own up to mistakes rather than hide them. (Plus they rarely stay hidden). It really builds respect and trust among a team.
Elizabeth Elliott Vice President, Equity Research View Profile

6. Transparency and Honesty are Key

When I got my first management position nearly 15 years ago, My global manager said to remember, 'Transparency and honesty are key to managing relationships and gaining trust from people. And it’s harder than you think.' It’s true. It’s incredibly hard sometimes to deliver a message you know someone is not going to like, but in the long run, it really pays off to be as transparent about a situation as you can be.
Yuki Hashimoto Managing Director, Head of Fixed Income, Japan, and Head of Fixed Income Distribution, Asia View Profile

7. Broaden Your Network

It’s incredibly beneficial to your career to broaden your network outside your immediate team. If you build relationships with colleagues in other teams or divisions, it’ll give you a support network you can turn to for career advice. I think that having a good network can also help you do your job better, because you are better connected to the wider business.
Jessica Alsford Managing Director, Head of Sustainability Research View Profile

8. Have a Mentor and Keep Your Sense of Humor

One senior manager once said to us that learning and using technology is the easy part; it’s dealing with people that’s complicated. To a great extent, your quality of work will speak for itself, but I’ve found that having a mentor is invaluable. I think we can easily become emotionally invested in tiny issues, and it helps to have someone to go to, who can help you put things in perspective and keep your eye on your goals. Also, never lose your sense of humor!
Rose-Gaëlle (R-G) Belinga Associate, Technology and Data View Profile

9. Run Your Own Race

You should put aside what others are doing and put your best foot forward, based on your skillset and priorities. Even though competition does motivate me, I have found that doing my best within my capacity and priorities helps me stay calm and focused on long-term career goals, without getting distracted by what others are achieving.
Debashree Banerjee Vice President, Firm Risk Management View Profile

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