Several weeks into her new role as Chief Executive Officer of Morgan Stanley’s operations across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Clare Woodman describes the shift in role as demanding—but exciting. “Taking the baton in the middle of one of Europe’s biggest unknowns in history is absolutely a challenge. But I’m ready to roll up my sleeves.”
Woodman comes to the role after a multi-decade career at the firm, joining Morgan Stanley as a lawyer in Global Capital Markets in 2002. After developing her knowledge of risk in banking, she took on the role of Risk Officer for the Global Capital Markets division. Woodman was then invited to join the Institutional Securities Management team, first in EMEA and later as Global Chief Operating Officer of ISG. “I learnt to apply my legal training and risk management background to business strategy,” she says.
In 2014, Woodman attended London Business School part-time, earning her MBA to further invest in her quantitative acumen. “The world of risk in financial services has broadened, and a key aspect of my job is focusing on how to translate what policymakers and regulators want to achieve," she says. "What I learned during my MBA has been very useful”.
Fast forward to 2018 and Woodman sits alongside Morgan Stanley’s C-Suite on the firm’s Global Operating, Management and Risk Committees. She is committed to furthering its industry-wide leadership role, serving on the boards of UK Finance, the Association for Financial Markets in Europe and the Banking Standards Board. Despite her schedule, she continues to make time to leverage her senior platform to Give Back, both to women in finance and to the communities in which Morgan Stanley operates.
A long-standing advocate for greater corporate inclusion, Woodman has helped spearhead and sponsor a number of women-leadership development programs.
“Our aim is simple but important: We want to give our high-potential females the support they need in advance of transitions," she says. “We provide training and development to ensure that women have the right skills at the right juncture to enable them to attain the success they deserve.”
A mother of three boys, Woodman understands the importance of balancing home and City life. When asked her top piece of advice, she says: "Preparation is everything." Throughout her career, Woodman has always done her homework. “I try to anticipate what might be next," she says, "I've learned that the more planning you do, the more successful your execution is."
No matter her schedule, as a board member of the Morgan Stanley International Foundation, Woodman always finds time to prioritize her commitment to Giving Back. Indeed, her office is full of reminders, including a mural of the rooftop garden she recently helped relocate from London’s Chelsea Flower Show to Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, a project so ambitious it was captured in a BBC documentary.
"We're so glad we did it. It’s a quiet, safe place for doctors, parents and children to take a moment to breathe. It was worth every second," she says.
Woodman describes the project as emblematic of the firm's ethos. "Culture permeates everything we do, from strategy to how we run the business day-to-day. I believe that sense of collaboration is stronger here than anywhere else I know. It’s the culture that gives us all energy, and the culture that drives innovation."