Before Dhruv, a Mumbai native, learned about P&L and gross margins in a classroom, he got a few first-hand lessons closer to home. “During college, where I earned a degree in management studies, I basically ran my family’s jewelry business,” says Dhruv, who launched his career at Morgan Stanley as a Summer Analyst and joined the firm full-time after graduating from Wilson College in Mumbai. “We sold all kinds of jewelry, from costume to gold, silver and diamonds. We had our own factory, our own wholesale warehouse, and a retail shop—a complete start-to-end midsize business, with around twenty-five employees. Simply by working in the shop, attending trade shows all over India, and learning on the job how to manage costs and resources, I gathered the very skills that I was studying in school. When I joined Morgan Stanley, I was able to implement those same skills in another setting.”
Dhruv is currently a Director in the Operations Division of Morgan Stanley Investment Management and recently relocated to our offices in London. Since joining the firm, he has won several companywide awards, including a FVA (Firm Values Award) recognizing his ability to “lead with exceptional ideas,” one of Morgan Stanley’s five core values.
Your background is unusual in that you were experienced in business before joining Morgan Stanley. What similarities and differences did you find between working for the family business and working for a global financial services firm?
Any business—big, medium, or small—values cost cutting. It tries to make optimal use of every resource it has, whether a financial resource, a physical resource or a human resource. That is a key similarity between my family’s business and Morgan Stanley, and it’s an area where I’ve been able to excel because I already had a lot of experience.
Of course, Morgan Stanley is a whole different world from a company with twenty-five employees. And not just in terms of scale. I quickly discovered that at Morgan Stanley, it helps to be a specialist rather than a jack-of-all-trades, as I was in my former job. But I have succeeded here partly because I approached my job as my own company within the company, applying the same lessons of discipline and hard work that I learned in my family’s business.
Can you describe your current role at Morgan Stanley?
I work in the portfolio services team within Operations. Our primary task is to support the traders and portfolio managers with the trading and post-trade settlement cycle while supervising the cash balances across accounts. Along with supporting the traders, we are the overall monitor for the operations in the client accounts and/or funds. We make sure everything is looking good and fair so that there is no downstream impact. We action and oversee any activity happening on the client accounts and stay in conversation with different stakeholders within Morgan Stanley Investment Management (MSIM), Operations and other support functions, and also with external client-appointed representatives. Another part of our role involves overseeing the reporting team, off-shore team and the external team, to which some functions have been outsourced.
A global role seems well suited to you, given your facility with languages, including Mandarin, which you acquired a few years ago. How did that come about?
That was something I picked up when I started at Morgan Stanley full-time and was supporting mainly Asian clients. When I would interact with my stakeholders in Singapore and Hong Kong, they were always looking for people who knew Mandarin. So, I decided to learn it. I took classes from 6 to 7:30 a.m., before coming to work. My colleagues in Singapore helped me a lot. I got to the point where I started using Mandarin sometimes to communicate with my Asian counterparts. And in 2019, when I visited Singapore, I got to practice Mandarin with the locals.
Have you visited other places besides Singapore?
Yes, I travel a lot. I like to research a place for about three months before I visit and will spend seven or eight days in a place where most people might spend three. I explore a city as thoroughly as possible and then I create a complete start-to-end itinerary and share it with friends, relatives or anyone else who’s interested. My itineraries could double as tour packages!
Is the international nature of Morgan Stanley one of its major attractions for you as a place of employment?
Definitely. But there are many other aspects of the company that make me proud to work here. Whenever anyone asks me what it’s like to work at Morgan Stanley, I mention the friendly, open office culture. I believe this quality differentiates Morgan Stanley. Employees here are respected and supported, especially in cases when family obligations might arise unexpectedly. Recently, when my dad fell sick and had to undergo surgery, I can honestly say that my team here was like a second family during that difficult time. Each day when I come to work, it feels like home.