Director, Operations


Gemma is a Director in trading operations supporting the fixed income derivatives desk as a project manager. She graduated in 2014 from the University of Leeds with a BA in History.

How would you describe the firm's culture?

Morgan Stanley is such a collaborative, welcoming, warm firm. In my team/division we are usually organized into small teams of five or six so you don’t feel lost in such a large organization. It’s a really pleasant culture. The biggest surprise for me was the amount of responsibility you are given. You are listened to, valued and respected. I am being challenged all the time and have improved my skills so much in such a short time.

What advice would you give graduates interested in a finance career?

It’s important to understand and know what you want in a career, as well as what the job entails. I’m sure some people apply just because they hear that Morgan Stanley is a great company, but you have to have an idea about the role you want to pursue and why you think you’d be well suited to it. It's all about the skills the firm looks for in prospective new hires, not so much industry knowledge.

How did you know Morgan Stanley was the right place for you?

Most of my information about Morgan Stanley came from placement and graduate websites, so I wasn’t initially familiar with the culture but Morgan Stanley had received a great deal of positive feedback so I was keen to find out more about the firm. I was lucky enough to do an Industrial placement year which gave me invaluable insight into the firm’s culture and I knew I wanted to return as a graduate.

The Operations division receives such a broad range of applications. They’re very skilled at placing employees in the right group according to personality and skill set. It’s been a great fit for me.

Describe your current role at the firm and your responsibilities.

I am part of a team that is responsible for ensuring Morgan Stanley is compliant with regulatory requirements for OTC derivatives. Our team maintains and improves Morgan Stanley’s reporting system to ensure that we are reporting trades on time and with the correct information to multiple regulatory bodies. We also are responsible for implementing any new regulations that come into effect. I am specifically responsible for the Fixed Income workstream.

What was your first major project at the firm and what did you take away from the experience?

My first project as a graduate was to help implement the new regulatory requirements that were being put in place by the Canadian regulatory body. It required a great deal of problem solving and close collaboration with IT teams and the Business Unit. It gave me an excellent understanding of the regulatory environment in financial services and helped develop my project management skills.

How have you progressed and evolved through your time at Morgan Stanley?

Morgan Stanley’s analyst program provides a lot of training on soft skills, like the value of communication in team meetings, and the importance of tone and body language. I feel I have definitely developed those transferable skills as well as my industry knowledge since joining the firm. Moreover, because the level of responsibility increases as you progress through the program, it has made me far more confident in my abilities.

You also learn to strive for client service excellence. The analyst program makes you well rounded and prepares you well for an associate role. In my division, once you become an associate you are encouraged to move internally within Operations so you are exposed to different aspects of the business. The firm really encourages mobility and personal growth.

Talk about your most significant accomplishment.

In my placement year I was responsible for implementing functionality in our Front Office Risk system that would allow 50% of the Interest Rate trades on an old legacy system to be migrated onto the new platform. It was a significant milestone in the project lifecycle so I really relished being so heavily involved. I gained a lot of subject matter expertise in that area and it was satisfying to be able to assist colleagues with queries around it.

Have you found mentors here at the firm? How have they shaped your experience here?

I had a mentor during my placement and I’m fortunate that my current manager has continued to mentor me. My immediate supervisors are really focused on my progression and are always interested to know how I’m doing and make sure I’m always challenged.

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