Morgan Stanley

Managers are problem-solvers, one of the many aspects of her job Doreen Eldred appreciates most.

Those problem-solving skills were thoroughly tested during her very first day in a management position. “I remember one of the Financial Advisors saying, ‘If you can survive this, you’re going to be in management for the rest of your career. It doesn’t get any harder than this,” Doreen remembers of that “whirlwind day.” It was Oct. 19, 1987, now known as “Black Monday” because of the catastrophic stock market crash that unfolded before her eyes.

That Financial Advisor turned out to be right. Now Head of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management’s Service Review Unit, Doreen went on to become a manager in operations and discovered her love for “helping people grow and tap potential they might not even know they have,” she beams. “I really enjoy relationship building and working with people. That’s what gets me up in the morning.” 

On top of that, she gets to do so in an industry she seemingly was meant for. 

An Industry for Me

Born and raised in the Cleveland area, Doreen sought a full-time day job so she could put herself through college at night. She realized almost instantly that her placement agency had found her the perfect role as a Sales Assistant at a financial-services firm.

“Walking in that first day, people were shouting back and forth for phone calls and messages and putting in orders,” Doreen remembers. “I knew by lunchtime that finance was something I always wanted to be involved in.” She juxtaposes that with a previous job at a small town hall, where the phone only rang twice a day, and one of those calls was usually her mother. “I found out quickly it wasn’t enough—I wanted to be part of something bigger.”

After a few Sales-Assistant roles at other firms then spending 19 years in various management positions at Smith Barney, a predecessor firm of Morgan Stanley, Doreen became a District Business Officer. She applied for the Morgan Stanley position at the suggestion of a colleague and trusted friend. “The role was way outside my comfort zone, but I thought I’d try it and see what can happen,” says Doreen, who had married her high-school sweetheart then raised two sons while working full-time.

Noting how “timing and luck” always played a part in her career, Doreen eventually seized an opportunity to pilot a new program at the firm, a move she made shortly after finalizing her divorce from her husband of 25 years. “It was a pivotal time,” she explains. “He and I had decided we wanted other things in life. At the same time, this opportunity presented itself, and I was ready for another challenge.”

Above and Beyond

That’s when she became Head of The Service Review Unit, launched to take work out of the branches, freeing the complex Business Service Officers and Branch Service Managers to spend more time with clients and staff. The unit also handles licensing programs and recognition programs to spotlight those “going above and beyond.” 

Though two hours away in Columbus, Ohio, the job was “close enough to still be near my family and have that life but also start this new one,” she says. Now 10 years into the role and managing a team that has grown from seven employees to 225, Doreen reflects on how it was “not a matter of days but hours before I could see the difference we were making.”

For some, such a long commute would be grueling, but Doreen gets some of her “best ideas during my drives. It’s quiet, and I can really think strategically and culturally. I ask myself, ‘What can I do above and beyond what we’re already doing?’”

Outside of the firm, Doreen takes great pride in helping people in her community. Just before the pandemic, for example, she and her team pulled together to help at the Special Olympics Summer Games, which took place at The Ohio State University. 

The Power of Relationships

“Leading through the pandemic was challenging,” she reflects. “I thought I had really seen just about everything as a manager, but 2020 was different.” She says she learned that “relationships matter more than anything. If you can stay close to people and be honest and authentic, they appreciate that, and it makes being apart feel that much better. To me, the power is in relationships.”

In fact, mentoring “is an important part of my life right now,” Doreen adds. “I get the most satisfaction sitting across from someone, finding out what they want to accomplish and coming up with a plan to help them achieve that—there really is no greater feeling.”

For these efforts and more, Doreen has been named a Morgan Stanley MAKER, joining a group of women of accomplishment nominated by their peers. “I love hearing everyone’s story of how they got to where they are now,” says Doreen of fellow MAKERS. “Everyone has hurdles they have overcome, yet here we are. The sharing of our challenges is a collective experience that brings us all together.”

Doreen points out that not only does the MAKERS movement highlight the impact women can have in the workplace, but it also sets a great example for all, especially young women coming into their careers. Stretching beyond your comfort zone, she advises, is “how you’ll find out what you like and don’t like. Don’t say no to something because it’s not entirely comfortable.”