Highlights from the 2017 Multicultural Leadership Summit

Direct from Chicago, March 1-3.  Morgan Stanley’s summit focusing on the multicultural trailblazers who stretch, ignore or bust through boundaries—sometimes with thought, sometimes with surprise and always chasing excellence.

March 2nd: 5:27 PM

Kara Underwood Closes Multicultural Summit with Call to Champion Change

Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Leadership Summit 2017 in Chicago came to a close Thursday with Managing Director of Diversity and Inclusion Kara Underwood calling on the more than 400 Financial Advisors and managers to “champion the clients, the mentees and the communities who need us.”

“This is our chance to accelerate our momentum, and create the change that we all want to see. It’s the transformative change that enables us to compete for the long term.”

The Summit brought together multicultural leaders and Financial Advisors from Morgan Stanley to “Inspire. Lead. Connect.”

Through panels, events, presentations and networked “brain date” sessions, the attendees discussed ways to transform relationships with clients and colleagues. As Co-Head of Wealth Management Shelley O’Connor phrased it, “The more we come together, the harder it will be for others to compete against us.”

“We aspire to go far, and we do this together,” Kara told the Summit Thursday afternoon. “You’ve filled these rooms with tremendous energy, and now we head home empowered to share this energy with our clients and colleagues.”

March 2nd: 5:10 PM

Hamilton Stars: Actors of Color Empower Youth

More than 400 Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors and managers at the Multicultural Leadership Summit in Chicago were thrilled as Private Wealth Advisor Nadine Wong interviewed two stars from "Hamilton." Alexander Gemignani, the Broadway star appearing in the Chicago production said that "casting actors of color as major figures in history and founding fathers helps the younger generation see themselves in a new way.”

Alexander plays the role of King George III in the Chicago production of the hit musical. Co-star and Tony-award winning actress Karen Olivo, who plays Angelica in Hamilton, said the breakthrough musical "empowers young artists and actors to listen to their own voices and focus on passions outside the mainstream at the moment."

The best way to mentor, she said, is in a “safe place” because in the entertainment world the onstage lessons too often can be harsh.

March 2nd: 5:05 PM

Nadine Wong Says Showing Success Fosters Success

Moderating a panel of “Hamilton” stars, Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Advisor Nadine Wong’s advice from the Multicultural Leadership Summit is straight forward: “If you cast a full spectrum of diversity as heroes and historical figures in theater and entertainment, then children of all races and ethnicities understand that they can play that role not just on stage but in real life,” she said.

She moderated a panel featuring two stars from the Chicago production of Hamilton (Tony-award winning actress Karen Olivo, who plays Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton and Alexander Gemignani, who plays King George).

Shortly before the Summit, on March 1-2, Nadine was recognized for her accomplishments by Forbes' list of America’s Top Women Wealth Advisors. Of the 200 named, 50 hailed from Morgan Stanley. Nadine is part of Morgan Stanley’s Eagle Group with offices on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

March 2nd: 4:59 PM

Amit Grover’s “Small Firm” Fights Cystic Fibrosis

Financial Advisor and Branch Manager Amit S. Grover, an “Impact” speaker at Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Leadership Summit, said he likes “big.”

“Look, Morgan Stanley is a very big firm with lots of resources—that’s why I work here,” he told more than 400 Financial Advisors and managers at the Summit. “But this is a large firm with a small firm feel. And what I mean by that, is that this firm invests in its employees. I’m just one small example of this.”

Amit’s cause is to fight Cystic Fibrosis, an ailment that has affected his young nephew, Kiran. He has helped the community raise more than $60,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Firm has helped him by matching his contributions of money and time—an act that “means more than my W2…”

Amit is a branch manager and Financial Advisor in Sewickley, PA, near Pittsburgh. The Multicultural Leadership Summit in Chicago was held in Chicago March 1 and 2 to help Financial Advisors and managers learn and network. He helps lead “Team Kiran” efforts to fight Cystic Fibrosis.

March 2nd: 4:48 PM

Claudia Mollerup-Madsen: Present Your Story, Not Your Resume

Want to have an impact in business or in promoting diversity? Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor Claudia Mollerup-Madsen of Houston says one sure way is to connect “disparate dots” – people you know who would not ordinarily meet.

“Be the connector,” she said. “Decide who should be talking to whom. Then close the loop and make it happen.”

Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Multicultural Leadership Summit in Chicago, Claudia said that "connections are easier when you tell a story about yourself—rather than reciting your resume."

“You want people to remember your story so it needs to relate to life even at odd moments,” she said. “But you can’t fake what you’re passionate about and you won’t be able to develop strong connections if you are faking it.”

March 2nd: 4:39 PM

Why Martin Vergara Makes His Home in a Troubled Town

Martin Vergara says Paterson, New Jersey, is “my first and last home.” He adds that the town consistently “makes the list of most violent small cities in America.” Why does Martin, now Chief Operating Officer of Morgan Stanley Marketing, live there? “It’s my city,” he says. “It made me who I am and I love it.”

He also thinks people with a passion for change need a leg up and that’s what he offers Paterson. The former Notre Dame pitcher and Cleveland Indians draft pick volunteers as a coach in Paterson, and is supporting development of the Paterson Great Falls National Park. “I am helping to lead an effort to make our Great Falls National Historic Park the best urban national park in the country,” he said, “and that will be a catalyst for our city’s resurgence.”

Martin was speaking to more than 400 Financial Advisors and managers at Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Leadership Summit in Chicago on March 2.

March 2nd: 4:31 PM

How Debra Jones-McConnell’s Father Prepped her for the “Big Leagues”

Debra Jones-McConnell's father was a professional baseball player, and though he may not have known it, he prepared his daughter as a Financial Advisor for those playing in the big leagues.

“Growing up, I was the daughter who learned everything about sports,” Jones-McConnell told more than 400 Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors and managers at the Multicultural Leadership Summit in Chicago, March 2. “My dad passed on his passion about sports to me and I knew everything there was to know about sports.”

How did that translate into achievement in the real world? Her passion led to a niche focusing on helping professional athletes. Today, she is a Financial Advisor and a director in Morgan Stanley’s Global Sports & Entertainment division.

“You need to have a niche and you need to have a passion about that niche,” she told her colleagues.

March 2nd: 4:15 PM

Ted Reid: The Upside of a Really Bad Mentor

Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor Octavius “Ted” Reid III had a mentor when he first started out, but not a great one. “When I got a job, my mentor said, ‘Go buy a car,’” Reid recalled. “Then I got a raise and my mentor said, “Where you living? Go buy a house, you’ll work harder.’” And finally, “‘Buy some new suits with your credit card too.’”

Then came the crash of 1987, Reid recalled, and in debt over his head he faced his own financial crisis. "No one wanted to invest in stocks with a 21-year-old black kid who looked 15-years old," Ted Reid said.

Fast forward to 1998 and a successful Ted Reid. He asked his manager whether he could host a mentoring event for African American Financial Advisors and he got the go ahead. That meeting over the years evolved to become Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Leadership Summit. Ted Reid’s experience with a very bad mentor resulted in an annual event where 400 Financial Advisors and managers gather to meet the good ones.

March 2nd: 4:12 PM

Audrey Choi on Millennials and “Social Investing”

Millennial investors tend to look at a company’s social policies, not just stock price performance, according to Audrey Choi, CEO of Morgan Stanley's Institute for Sustainable Investing. Millennials are twice as likely to sell a stock if a company performs poorly on social or environmental issues, according to a 2015 study, “Sustainable Signals,” prepared by Morgan Stanley’s Institute for Sustainable Investing.

The trend does not mean Millennial investors need to give up performance, she said continued. One study (Corporate Sustainability: First Evidence on Materiality. Cambridge: Harvard Business School, 2015) showed that investing in stocks focused on quarterly earnings and the most important environmental and social issues yielded more than a portfolio focused only on quarterly earnings over a 20 year period.

“Embracing the non-traditional perspective is an asset that underpins the work we do at the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable,” she told the Summit.

March 2nd: 4:02 PM

Colbert Narcissse: When Bad Managers Happen to Good People

Colbert Narcisse, Morgan Stanley Head of International Wealth Management, says even bad mangers sometimes can be good for your career. He was speaking to more than 400 Financial Advisors and managers at the Morgan Stanley Multicultural Leadership Summit Thursday.

"You don’t get to choose your managers, but you need to learn how to adapt," he says. "Even a bad manager has traits you can learn from. Even if it’s: 'I don’t want to be like that.'" At one point, he said, a manager at another firm told him, "You'll never make managing director." Said Colbert: "I became a managing director before he did."

His own career ranged from alternative investments to wealth management. "Remember your career does not have to be linear," he said. "You may have to take two steps back and one giant step forward."

March 2nd: 1:55 PM

Susan Reid: Honor the Grit of Diverse Entrepreneurs

Susan Reid, Morgan Stanley’s Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion, told the Multicultural Leadership Summit in Chicago that diversity entrepreneurship takes “real commitment and grit” and deserves to be especially honored.

“It is often the case that entrepreneurs of color create products and services to fill the needs of underserved individuals and communities—needs that these entrepreneurs recognize because they are unique and because they are different,” she said.

"Too often in the past minority entrepreneurs have not been adequately credited," she added. “We want to honor, acknowledge and recognize you. You are 400 talented, high performing multicultural entrepreneurs. We want to honor you because we know how incredibly challenging it is to build a strong commercial practice. It takes real commitment and grit. And we see your differences as competitive advantage.”

March 2nd: 1:41 PM

Entrepreneur Suite: "Folks of Color: The Greatest Consumer Demographic"

“If you are just following trends, you are already too late,” Tristan Walker, the CEO of Walker & Company Brands told more than 400 Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors and managers at the Multicultural Leadership Summit in Chicago. “Most people chase the good ideas,” he continued. “Only a few ask ‘What if I rent out my room to strangers and make that a worldwide business?’”

He told the Summit that a personal and professional challenge for him is to reverse the current situation where the “folks at the top are leveraging technology and the folks at the bottom are not using it as productively." He said, "If you unpackage it, folks of color, for profit or non-profit, are the greatest consumer demographic in the world and if I can help their productivity, that is worth doing."

March 2nd: 1:21 PM

Entrepreneur Suite: Chinedu Echeruo’s Bad Night Turns on Lights

Chinedu Echeruo the Multicultural Leadership Summit in Chicago said that his success as an entrepreneur dates back to a bad night on the Lower East Side of New York City that turned on the bright light of an idea.

“I was going on a date on the Lower East Side some years ago before the era of Google Maps and I got extremely lost,” he said. “I got frustrated—so much that I grabbed a subway map the next day and used Excel to figure out how to describe the subway system using the right code.”

The lesson learned, he said, was that opportunity is often the flip side of frustration. “How do you solve people's problems, solve their pain?” he said.  His company, Love and Magic Company, is a global cause-driven platform to facilitate human connection.

March 2nd: 1:10 PM

Entrepreneur Suite: Moving Beyond a Child's Failed Lemonade Stand

Femgineer Founder Poornima Vijayashanker told Morgan Stanley's Multicultural Leadership Summit in Chicago that entrepreneurship did not come to her at an early age. “I was the kid with the failed lemonade stand,” she told more than 400 Financial Advisors and managers gathered to learn and network for two days. “I went into engineering like my dad but once I was lured to California and ‘start-up’ land, I saw way to create value. I wanted not just to build ‘things’ but to build companies.”

She was speaking at a special panel session entitled “Inside the Entrepreneurial Suite” hosted by International Financial Advisor Gigi Guerra. Poornima, the founding engineer for the company Mint, created Femgineer to help engineers “level out their game."

Key to any startup, she said, is how to create trust. "When we started we were a bunch of twenty-somethings in hoodies in Silicon Valley asking people to trust us with their credit card numbers,” she said. “We soon learned that everything we did had to speak to ‘trust.’”

March 2nd: 8:43 AM

Mandell Crawley on Pain by the Ounce and Ton

Some pain and discipline is necessary to move forward in this world, said Mandell Crawley, Chief Marketing Officer of Morgan Stanley, but those in business today have a choice:

Bear some pain now measured in ounces by learning new skills and techniques. Or experience huge pain later measured in tons as you lose market share and business to those who have prepared better than you.

He was speaking to more than 400 Financial Advisors and managers at the Morgan Stanley Multicultural Leadership Summit in Chicago, gathered to learn and network for two days March 1-2.

Mandell Crawley told the audience they could benefit from these actions:  1) Be clear on your value proposition; 2) Add “Surround Sound” to that proposition through communication; 3) Put in the 10,000 hours needed to master a subject; 4) Choose your pain threshold in “ounces not tons.”

March 2nd: 8:25 AM

Omar Johnson: Build Teams of the “Unheard”

Omar Johnson, the former chief marketing officer of Beats by Dre, told Morgan Stanley Wealth Management’s Multicultural Leadership Summit that a key marketing skill he learned as a young man was to ask customers what needs they had rather than tell them what he could provide.

“When I was young and starting out, I sold mixed tapes,” he said. “The first week I told everyone what I had. The second week I asked, ‘What do you want? What do you feel like? What would you like to feel like?”

Today, he seeks to build “teams of the unheard. People who have great ideas but who haven’t been listened to.” Often, these teams bring originality and breakthrough messages to the market.

March 2nd: 8:08 AM

Frank Cooper: Speed, Diversity and Data are Key Business Needs

Frank Cooper III, the Chief Marketing Officer of BlackRock and a former BuzzFeed innovator, said speed; the ability to leverage data; and diverse teams are all keys to innovation and future business success.  “Diverse teams simply work better and are far more productive,” he told Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Leadership Summit in Chicago.

“Speed itself – the ability to go fast – is an intellectual property these days,” he told more than 400 Financial Advisors and managers gathered to learn and network.  “An artistic element to business will always exist,” he added. “But the ability to leverage data around human creativity will be vital.”

And to execute with speed and leverage data, diverse teams are needed.   “We simply perform better when we embrace diversity.”

March 1st: 7:25 PM

Mary J. Blige: Frame Competition Carefully

Iconic nine-time Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, actress and philanthropist Mary J. Blige told the Morgan Stanley Multicultural Summit that she remains a highly competitive artist but cautioned against competing based on the demands of others.

"When you compete on what everyone wants you to do you lose," she told the audience. "When you compete based on your values, on what you know is true, what you can do and what works for you, that is good competition, that is my truth. The competition has to be for you – not others."

Mary Blige was speaking to Morgan Stanley’s Sandra Richards, Head of Business Development & Segment Marketing, Wealth Management; and with Kimberly Hatchett, Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Advisor at the Multicultural Leadership Summit in Chicago. More than 400 Financial Advisors and managers are gathered for two days to network and accelerate diversity.

March 1st: 4:50 PM

Kara Underwood Challenges Attendees to Accelerate Change

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Managing Director of Diversity and Inclusion Kara Underwood called on more than 400 Financial Advisors and managers to “make ten new connections” at the Multicultural Leadership Summit in Chicago “so we can accelerate the change.”

“We are a group of influencers, role models and activists working together to transform our industry,” she said. “This is our chance to accelerate our momentum, and create the change that we all want to see. It’s the transformative change that enables us to compete for the long term.”

The Summit features “brain dates” – electronically enhanced networking sessions – that allow Financial Advisors to meet colleagues who share the same questions and challenges.

Kara Underwood said, “It is important that every Morgan Stanley employee feels comfortable bringing their full and authentic self to work each day. It is important too in keeping our connection with clients and community.”

March 1st: 4:35 PM

Tiffany Dufu: Avoid "Home Control Disease"

Tiffany Dufu, chief leadership officer at Levo, a professional network for Millennials, and the author of "Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less,” told more than 400 Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors gathered at the Multicultural Leadership Summit in Chicago that they need to be wary of "Home Control Disease” in managing their time.

“‘Home Control Disease’” is the challenge we face when we want everything done a certain way at home (translation: my way),” she said, "but don't have the time or energy to keep up with it.

"Remember: Just because we can do something better and faster than someone else, doesn't mean we should do it,” she said. Freeing up time allows for true leadership, she said. “In the uncertain times we have now, all some people may have to rely on is you and your authenticity and your devotion to your highest allegiance….”

March 1st: 4:17 PM

Jessica Mendoza: “Don’t Give Me the Fluff, Give me Real.”

Jessica Mendoza, Olympic medalist and ESPN broadcaster, told Financial Advisors at Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Leadership Summit that she values honest and directness in the advice she seeks.

“I appreciate honesty. Let’s get real, and let’s get there real quick,” she said. “The people I trust are the ones who say, ‘Girl, you sucked today!’ (when that is appropriate) and people who don’t give me the fluff.”

Jessica spoke during the “Power Hour” session of the Summit in Chicago. Host Carla Harris, Vice Chairman and Senior Advisor at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, hosted the interview and asked what pressures Jessica feels.

“If you are the ‘first’ at something,” she said. “You feel you can’t mess up. There’s pressure there.”

In the crucible of social media surrounding sports, she has learned to distinguish among those who disagree with her.

“So long as you are disagreeing with me on the merits of what I said, not gender or ethnicity, that’s fine and healthy,” she said. “I’m good with that.”

March 1st: 4:08 PM

Carla Harris Hosts the “Power Hour” at 2017 Multicultural Leadership Summit

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Vice Chairman Carla Harris kicked off the Multicultural Leadership Summit 2017 in Chicago Wednesday with a Power Hour panel of accomplished artists and authors.

Carla Harris, who is also a Senior Client Advisor with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, talked with; Ali Ewoldt, and Norm Lewis, two breakthrough stars on Broadway.

Norm Lewis, the first African American to play “Phantom” on Broadway, told Carla he believes it is essential to keep a “strong spiritual center” and sense of self because “there is always someone telling you ‘You’re too short, too fat, too tall…’”

“You have to remember your value,” he said. “You can’t take no for an answer.”

Ali Ewoldt, the star of the “King and I” in Chicago, and who also can be seen six shows a week as Christine in Broadway’s “Phantom of the Opera” this June, said she always dreamed of a performing career. “You just have to believe deeply that the gifts you have are worthy,” she said.

Harris' "Power Hour" was presented to 400 of the Firm’s top multicultural Financial Advisors and branch managers who gathered to connect, learn and be inspired by leaders and groundbreakers across a range of industries.

March 1st: 3:41 PM

"By Coming Together We Strengthen Morgan Stanley"

Shelley O’Connor told Multicultural Leadership Summit attendees that “the more we come together, the harder it will be for others to compete against us.”

The Co-Head of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management spoke to 400 of the Firm’s top multicultural Financial Advisors and branch managers who gathered to connect, learn and be inspired by leaders and groundbreakers across a range of industries.

“During this Summit you will hear from multicultural trailblazers who have faced disruption and change, taken risks, and seized opportunities to transform themselves and their futures,” O’Connor said.

“Morgan Stanley is at an inflection point,” she added, “and we’re forging a new way forward. We need to evolve and think differently about how we come together to serve and engage with our clients.”

This evolution includes a modern approach to solutions, practices and ways of connecting with clients, and embraces diversity as a powerful force in delivering the best of Morgan Stanley to help meet client goals.

March 1st: 3:08 PM

Colm Kelleher Kicks Off the 2017 Summit

Morgan Stanley President Colm Kelleher told more than 400 top Financial Advisors and managers at the Multicultural Leadership Summit in Chicago that they represent a vital part of Morgan Stanley’s value proposition in the years ahead.

“This room itself represents the value we want to present to clients: diverse and highly skilled Financial Advisors presenting exceptional ideas,” Colm Kelleher said. “We are committed to diversity because it is the right thing to do but it also serves our clients. We cannot do business right without a diverse work force and diverse clients."

The Financial Advisors and managers are gathered for three days to “Inspire. Learn. Connect." The event will feature conversations with Tiffany Dufu, the chief leadership officer of the Levo League; Ali Ewoldt, a star of Broadway musicals; Norm Lewis, also a Broadway star; and Jessica Mendoza, ESPN broadcaster and Olympic medalist.