Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley MAKER Margaret Flynn-Martin shares her story of strength

Few know better than Margaret Flynn-Martin what it takes to persevere. At Morgan Stanley now for nearly 30 years, she’s experienced a lot of change. Yet one constant along the way has been the support she’s had from colleagues, mentors and family.

“It’s been quite the journey,” says Margaret. “The mentorship I’ve had from the beginning really made all the difference.”

Starting out as a college intern, Margaret was then hired to help launch a groundbreaking mutual fund asset allocation program, called TRAK, “one of the most innovative platforms on Wall Street at the time,” she reflects. She moved on to roles in product management, program development, platform services, sales and advisory services. Today, as Managing Director of Relationship Management, she’s responsible for Morgan Stanley’s engagements with nearly 250 external asset management firms.

For the past two years, she’s also co-led the Diversity and Inclusion Roundtable Gathering, an initiative Margaret created to “bring together some of the greatest minds from across the industry to share their experiences and work collectively to do something great together,” she explains. “We brought together 15 firms that were starting to move the needle toward a more diverse and inclusive work environment.”

Margaret is now working closely with colleagues on the Firm’s recently launched Social Injustice initiative. “This is a time to take a leadership role in the industry to pave the way forward for ALL employees,” she says. 

Paying It Forward

In addition to these important efforts, Margaret mentors employees across the Firm. As an Executive Sponsor/Mentor for its recently launched Flourish program, Margaret focuses on high-potential female Executive Directors, coaching and broadening their experiences, paying particular attention to how she can connect mentees to others across the organization. Margaret views this as a way to return the favor for the mentors who “shaped the way I approach challenges and helped me to see opportunities,” she says. “That’s what was done for me.”

A mother to a high-school freshman, Margaret now passes along to other women the same advice she was given when her daughter was born: “Careers are important, but keep your perspective about what’s important to you in life and what you are most passionate about.” She’s grateful to her supportive husband, a Financial Advisor himself who “understands the demands of the job” and the need to put family first.

As a couple, this need was put to the test a few years ago when Margaret was diagnosed with stage-four endometrial cancer. Healthy and doing well now, her diagnosis had been a shock at the time. “Talk about something really knocking you off your feet,” she says. “The strength and support that’s needed to get through that and come out on the other side…resilience is probably one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned.”

Reprioritizing

Forced to reassess her priorities, Margaret quickly realized that “the small stuff doesn’t matter as much—that spreadsheet, deadline or deal you’re working on. At the end of the day, it’s about your legacy. Remember to live every day to its fullest, because you never know what's coming next.”

Margaret reflects on her upbringing on Staten Island and the positive influence of her parents. “They were wonderful, family-oriented people who just wanted to be happy in life, and they truly were,” she smiles. Her father worked for the New York Telephone Company for 40 years, and her stay-at-home mother volunteered for Meals on Wheels for three decades. Margaret remembers as a child riding along with Mom as she made deliveries. “It was instilled in me early on to work hard, do the right thing and always lend a helping hand, especially to those who can't look out for themselves,” says Margaret.

Emulating that altruism, Margaret, after her recovery, joined the board of the Expect Miracles Foundation, where she helps fundraise for cancer research. “I’m happy to say we’ve had two years of record fundraising,” she reports. “It’s been wonderful to be a part of this organization and to feel like, in my own small way, I’m helping to draw us closer to a cure.” For this, and the many ways she mentors and gives back, Margaret was named a Morgan Stanley MAKER, joining a group of trailblazing women of accomplishment nominated by their peers.

Margaret marvels at “the strength you find to do the things you never thought you’d be able to, for the love of your family. It’s limitless,” she says. “They call me a miracle because they didn’t think the treatment was going to work on my late-stage cancer. But I'm here, I’m a survivor, and I'm a MAKER.”

Remember, she adds: “When things are grim and seem at their worst, be resilient. There is light at the end of the tunnel.”