From Mentoring to Managing, MAKER Amy Nash is Compassionately All Ears

At the same office where she started as an intern, Amy Nash sits down to talk about the recent honor of being named a Morgan Stanley MAKER, one in a class of trailblazing women of accomplishment nominated by their peers. Reflecting on the influences that have shaped her career, she realizes that same Huntington, W.V., office is also the very place her first manager leaned in 20 years ago to help her see—and attain—the opportunities ahead.

“She was a very influential female manager who started the conversation with me, asking ‘What do you want from your career? What do you like and dislike? There are so many opportunities here’,” Amy remembers her saying.

Today, Amy takes that same approach with those she manages and mentors. “She’s why I do the same for many others,” she says. “The characteristics I strive for as a manager are the same ones she portrayed, looking to open doors for me.” Amy describes her singular focus “on helping anyone, but especially women, be the best they can be. Whatever they want to do, I’m going to help get them there.”

In fact, Amy will often sit down with sales assistants to discuss their career trajectories and to let them know that “whatever you want to do, I'm going to help you get there. If you tell me you want to be a sales assistant for your entire career, I'll help you to be the best sales assistant an advisor has ever had. If you tell me you want to go into management, then we'll work on developing your skills so you're ready for that leap.”

Amy prides herself on fostering candid conversations, and that includes giving constructive feedback. “Many colleagues come to me for career advice, knowing I'll let them know what skills they need to sharpen and how they can improve.” She puts listening at the top of her list when it comes to any discussion. “It’s by far one of the most important traits for a manager—listening to what people need, why they came to talk to you, and what’s in their message.”

Amy feels strongly about dedicating her efforts to one thing at a time and avoiding distractions, like emails, calls and texts. “Every single interaction and every person that I talk with should feel they're getting one hundred percent of my attention. That's incredibly important.” In fact, that ability to listen without distraction is “what’s carried me this far in my career,” she says.

Today, as an Associate Complex Manager, she’s not only focused on sales, but strategy and engagement in running the day-to-day operations of a complex that spans Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia. But her favorite part of the role is the people, helping Financial Advisors with practice management and managers with understanding the vision and strategy for the complex. “I can be a listening ear and help them see other perspectives and problem solve.”

Amy grew up in Huntington, W.V., where she and her sister attended Catholic school. She enjoyed sports, including playing in one of West Virginia’s first all-female club soccer teams. Her stay-at-home mom was always there for them while dad worked, volunteering at school and shuttling them to games. Amy has fond memories of going out to eat every Sunday after church.

For college, she chose to stay close to home and attended Marshall University, where she met her husband. As a business major, she landed an internship with what was then Smith Barney and loved it so much she switched her major to finance. After graduation, she was hired as a cashier in operations, the start of a rotation through several opportunities at the Firm as several assistants went out on maternity leave. “Filling in for each of them was an amazing training experience,” she says. “I learned just about every aspect of the service organization as I worked in every department.”

Amy worked her way up to operations manager in the Huntington office, then became a Financial Advisor. But she missed her management role and took a job in the Charleston, W.V., branch, where she knew no one and “had to earn their trust and respect.” Soon her role expanded, and she was managing operations across West Virginia, then Kentucky and eventually Tennessee. She was appointed the complex business service officer shortly after her twins, George and Kate, were born. Four years later, they had Ellie. With the tremendous support system she had in her parents, in-laws and grandmother all nearby, she was able to keep up with the required travel.

With the kids all still under the age of five, Amy took “a leap” and accepted a regional job in Pittsburgh. The family relocated, her husband became a stay-at-home dad, and they realized their family could handle life on their own, away from their extended families.

After accepting a new regional role and eventually the complex management position she relishes today, Amy moved the family back to West Virginia and took in her 20-years-younger teenage sister Samantha, who was seeking a change. She and her husband saw an opportunity to impact her life and influence her future. George and Kate are now 10, Ellie is 6, and Samantha is 19. Amy once again looks forward to big family dinners every Sunday.

One piece of advice she received along the way that she finally appreciates more than any other? Be yourself. “Often we try to say things we think others want to hear, trying to manage their perception of us,” she says. “That gets exhausting. Just be you. It takes confidence, but authenticity is key.”