The first graduate of the Return to Work program to rise to Managing Director, Suzanne Lindquist is proof there's a path back to the top.
Morgan Stanley’s Return to Work initiative is a 12-week program designed to give experienced men and women who have been away from their profession for more than two years an opportunity to restart their careers.
Suzanne Lindquist has always worked hard. “I tend to do everything 120%,” she says. “I’m a competitor.” Lindquist began her career as a securitized debt analyst and trader at a large financial services company, working her way up the ladder before leaving to head the fixed income management division at a boutique investment firm. But in the wake of the 2008 banking crisis, her group was dissolved. “So, after 20 years of work that ended with an exclamation point, I took the opportunity to take a breather,” she says. She got married and enjoyed the chance to spend quality time with her family. “I didn’t rush back.”
That is, until a former colleague told her about Morgan Stanley’s Return to Work initiative, a 12-week program for professionals who have taken an extended break and want to reenter the workforce. Lindquist was intrigued. “Although I loved spending time with my family, I was ready for a new challenge and chapter in my life.” She was accepted as a member of the first class in 2014 and received a full-time offer in Wealth Management upon completion of the program.
Lindquist quickly got her groove back. “I took to it right away,” she says. “Once I got a taste of it, I wanted to get back to where I was.” Nearly five years to the day later, she was named a Managing Director at Morgan Stanley, the first Return to Work participant to rise to the firm’s highest ranks. As head of Custom Solutions, she leads the Outsourced Chief Investment Office (OCIO) program that partners with Financial Advisors to help grow their practices by managing customized, multi-asset class investment strategies for institutional investors.
Every day presents new challenges and opportunities, but there’s always a common denominator of building the business, whether that’s meeting with Financial Advisors, traveling to see institutional clients or brainstorming with leadership to develop strategic initiatives. There’s not a lot of time spent sitting around, which appeals to me. I thrive on the energy and the fast pace of an entrepreneurial environment.
I have been able to utilize my fixed income skill as a strategist and portfolio manager throughout my tenure at Morgan Stanley. But it’s not just career experience I bring to the table. It takes a certain energy and commitment to drive this business forward and help Financial Advisors win business. Curiosity and enthusiasm are also critical to take on new roles, and you need the flexibility to deal with new people and new situations. Each client is unique, and I have to be able to work with all of them. In my role as a manager, I have the ability to teach and mentor people on my team. And I’m learning from them, too. Our team has a wide variety of diverse backgrounds, experience and expertise, so we are all teaching each other, every day, which I think has led to our success. I take a lot of pride in building a team culture that is entrepreneurial and collaborative.
The culture is special in a couple of different ways. People are really rooting for each other here, and there’s a good support system. There is also a lot of freedom to explore and plenty of opportunities to challenge yourself. I’ve had a great boss and mentor who has allowed me to follow my intellectual curiosity as long as what came of it was impactful.
Yes. In fact, I just spoke on a panel to the next Return to Work class. I continue to stay involved by mentoring other participants, as well as more informally meeting with potential or new program applicants on a regular basis.
I would encourage anyone who is returning to work from a hiatus to have the confidence that they should have. To realize the importance of their experience, not just historical work experience, but life experience, which is incredibly valuable and can be incredibly impactful and integral in whatever it is that they decide they want to do. We may be shy about that, at least initially, and we shouldn’t be. I would also encourage them to be open to learning new things. If you’re open-minded, flexible, and willing to learn, you’re going to succeed and get to the next level.
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CRC #2530309 05/2019