Finding the optimal work/life balance can be a challenge, and some investment management professionals find it necessary to take a career break. Embracing this reality, the Morgan Stanley Return to Work program was developed to provide experienced professionals who had taken a career break with an opportunity to re-enter the workforce. Marilu Cleary and Maryann Cassidy, two Executive Directors on the Investment Management institutional sales team, sat down to discuss their experiences with the program.
Tell us about your background.
Maryann Cassidy: After a career hiatus, I have been with the firm for three years, responsible for institutional and consultant relationships for the Central and Southeast regions in the US. My career experience has, always been within investment management in a fundraising and relationship management capacity.
Marilu Cleary: I had a few different experiences in the financial services industry. I started my career on the sell side in investment banking and worked on an investment grade corporate bond capital markets desk for several years. I transitioned to equity research sales, first with a small Washington-based research firm, and then with Sanford Bernstein. For the majority of my career I have been in client-facing, sales roles. I have been with Morgan Stanley for four years now and work on the consultant relations team with a focus on the alternatives platform.
Having left the workforce for a period of time, why did you return?
Maryann Cassidy: I had always planned on returning to the investment management industry and managed to maintain relationships with a number of my colleagues and clients, during my career break, which was very helpful to me especially when I was in the midst of exploring opportunities.
Marilu Cleary: Same here. I really enjoyed my work and never planned to be out forever. When the time was right, I worked very actively to get back in. At the time, I was confident that I did not want to go back to the sell side of the business, so I spent a lot of time determining which of my skills were transferable to the buy side.
How did you find out about the Morgan Stanley Return to Work program?
Maryann Cassidy: Once I decided to return to the workforce, my prior experience made me realize that I definitely wanted to work for a larger Firm, with a diverse product/strategy mix. I was focused on finding a client-facing position in investment management, and through continuous networking I found opportunities including Morgan Stanley’s Return to Work program.
Marilu Cleary: Similar to Maryann, I connected with professionals that I knew in the areas that I was interested in and my research led to the Return to Work program among other opportunities. It seemed like a great way to reenter the workforce with a respected firm that supported this type of program.
Describe the program and what you see as the key benefits and challenges you encountered.
Maryann Cassidy: Return to Work is a 12-week program which is open to experienced professionals who have been out of the workforce for at least two years. In addition to the opportunity to resume a career, the program offers the chance to meet with and hear from members of Morgan Stanley’s senior leadership and Return to Work professionals from previous cohorts. I found this part of the program this to be extremely helpful as I was beginning my career at Morgan Stanley. I value the relationships that I have with the other members of my class.
Marilu Cleary: For me, the connections that I made and exposure gained during the program were fantastic. You typically come into a job in any large organization and start from scratch, with exposure to only the people in your division. To get the perspective of others in the broader organization and an understanding of how it all fits together was great. The relationships with the employees that you get to know who are placed throughout Morgan Stanley are a real benefit. When you settle in to your job and you need some information from another area of the firm, you often have a contact from the program that you can call to ask for help. I have forged some strong friendships within my Return to Work group as well.
What advice do you have for people who would like to rejoin the workforce?
Marilu Cleary: Three words: network, network and network—and you can never give up. When reentering the work force it is essential to explore the types of roles you would like and network with the people you know at relevant firms. There are also organizations that hold conferences for professionals interested in rejoining the work force. Persistence is crucial to finding the opportunity that is right for you.
Maryann Cassidy: My advice for individuals looking to transition back into financial services is to consider Morgan Stanley’s Return to Work program. While it is a competitive program, it has provided me and many others with a phenomenal opportunity.