Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley MAKER Joyce Tavoulareas found hers by surrounding herself with people who inspire her. Today, she’s passionate about working as a team to generate better outcomes.

As an intern, Joyce Tavoulareas arrived at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and felt the energy at the center of the financial world. “Almost immediately,” she knew she wanted to be on Wall Street, and finance “was work I wanted to pursue.”

Call it a twist of fate that in her last semester of law school, Joyce was forced to seize a last-minute internship opportunity in the NYSE’s legal department after finding out the other internship she had lined up wasn’t eligible for the credits she needed to graduate.

Immediately after graduation, Joyce was hired by the NYSE. She took a job in Market Surveillance and proved herself quickly so she could make her way into the legal department and the “fascinating” work she loved. Excited about all she was learning and surrounded by supportive colleagues, she almost didn’t take the job she was offered by Morgan Stanley just three years into her career. “The exact job I would have wanted a few years down the road was presenting itself,” she reflects. “So I took it, and I’m glad I did. I’m proud to be at Morgan Stanley 17 years now, and I still absolutely love it.”

Joyce started out in the Litigation Department, and after two years there transitioned into a role providing legal advice to the Firm’s Institutional Equity Division (IED). For 13 years, she advised IED on new regulations and client negotiations, then transitioned to the Firm’s research department as the Global Chief Operating Officer (COO).

Today, as Head of Field Business Risk for Wealth Management, Joyce works closely with Financial Advisors, field management and control partners “to drive balanced outcomes,” a role she says “is an interesting combination of my legal skillset and my former COO business role.” Joyce is grateful for the opportunities she’s had to “really explore my capabilities” and challenge herself. “Each transition has been scarier than the last,” she says, but “I’ve learned a lot about myself.” 

Finding Your Passion

Specifically, she’s learned “how important it is to really love what you do and to be passionate about it.”

Discovering then pursuing your passion is something Joyce says her parents always wanted for her and her siblings. She remembers watching her artistic father doodle “amazing sketches” while sitting in front of the TV in the evening after a hard day of work at the family diner. “You could tell artistry was his passion,” says Joyce of the World War II veteran who put his art aside to run the restaurant.

As a teen, she worked in that diner side by side with her relatives, but “my parents made it clear to my siblings and I that we were not to work long-term in the family business. That was not our future.”

Joyce attributes her strong work ethic to her parents, who always stressed the importance of education. Her mother, who was a seamstress in Greece before she got married, wanted to see Joyce and her sister have access to the same opportunities as their brother would. “She had been telling me since I was five that I’d be a lawyer,” Joyce laughs. “I fought it, wanting to find my own path, but in college I realized she was right all along.”

Teaming Up

A team player of sports including volleyball and basketball when she was younger, Joyce learned early the importance of teamwork. “To sustain over the long term, you need more than a single, outstanding dominant player,” says Joyce. “You really do all have to come together.” Doing so with her teammates to generate better ideas and solutions is what drives her. “Outcomes are much more thoughtful when we get together as a team.”

She says her favorite part of her job is working with the extremely bright people who surround her. In fact, she advises others to always “surround yourself with people who inspire you, no matter what you do in life.”

When the pandemic hit two years ago, coming together as a team had new meaning for Joyce, who was asked to join the firmwide effort to keep employees safe. What started out as a multiweek response presented unprecedented challenges for more than two years. “We made every decision based on what we believed was in the best interest of our employees and clients, our driving principle from day one,” she says.

Striking A Balance

From the transition to full remote to deciding when to safely come back, Joyce, a mom of two girls, now 8 and 12, “couldn’t be prouder of the Firm’s leadership and collaboration in designing a safe approach.” The health challenges continue, yet Joyce is quick to spot a silver lining in the potential turning point in the industry. “We’ve accelerated our ability to see what can be accomplished in a remote or hybrid environment and to help employees maintain a balance over the long-term,” she says.

At a new high point in her career, Joyce has been named a Morgan Stanley MAKER, joining a distinguished group of women and men of accomplishment, all nominated by their peers. Now Joyce—who finds time to give back by doing pro-bono work—feels she is “part of a powerful movement in which amazing men and women come together and make change.” Having always found power in teamwork, she’s proud to be on this new team, knowing that “MAKERS are powerful together.”