After three years working in the Investment Banking Division, Ambreen can easily pinpoint her favorite deal to date: her very first IPO for a large online pet-supply retailer, the largest U.S. e-commerce IPO at the time.
“It culminated with me being very starry-eyed at the New York Stock Exchange, where the CEO was ringing the opening bell. He came down, found me in the crowd, and gave me a high five,” she says. “That is something that has always stayed with me and made me excited about working on more deals for the firm.”
Ambreen grew up in India, Mongolia and China until her father, a former diplomat, settled the family in the U.S. She went to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor as an undergraduate, where she studied industrial and operations engineering. “I did not have a finance background. I was more into tech,” she says. But an interest in business led her to earn an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
After interning at Morgan Stanley in the summer of 2017, she joined the firm as a full-time Associate in the Investment Banking Division in 2018. She currently serves as a Vice President in the Technology Investment Banking Group, working on IPO and M&A transactions and providing advisory support for software and internet companies.
When I joined, I was thinking, “Wow, there is so much to learn and do, where do I even start?” There’s excitement, but there’s also nervousness. And on my very first elevator ride that day, who walks in with me but James Gorman, Morgan Stanley’s CEO! I said a quick hello, and he said, “Congratulations. Welcome to the firm. My door is always open.” That was a very nice introduction to Morgan Stanley and very telling about the culture.
When I was young, I fixed all the computers in the house—any broken electronics, really. I was always interested in technology, but then I discovered I liked business, too, and I went on to earn my MBA after getting my undergraduate degree. Having a background in both, and an interest in investment banking in particular, led me to my current role at Morgan Stanley.
I think the biggest change between when I started and now is the confidence I have and the ability to speak up more and really engage with people. I didn’t want to constantly sit behind a computer for too long, so developing those skills was important. Yes, a lot of what we do is to make sure our work product and analyses are accurate, but I made a conscious effort not to get lost in that. I learned early on that people value what I have to say, so I made sure to speak up and that’s really helped me in my career.
The one who is at the absolute top for me—from the beginning of my interview period, through my internship, and even until now—is Caren Byrd. She is a Managing Director in the Global Power and Utilities Group, and she is one of the longest-serving Managing Directors at Morgan Stanley. She is fabulous in terms of nurturing younger women at the firm. You can go up to her office and grab some of the jellybeans off her desk and just chat. She was even one of the first people to congratulate me on my wedding day. Work is not just work at Morgan Stanley, it’s people who care about my life.
I would say that no matter what your background is or what you studied or what you have done—there’s likely a place for you here if you have the drive and willingness to learn. Someone who has an appetite for the analytical and data-driven side of business decision making, that’s important. And equally important, someone should have an interest in thinking strategically about businesses and how they function financially, about how they run in the short term and the long term. All of those things are key, coupled with a thirst for advising the CEOs and CFOs of some of the greatest companies in the world.