When Isaiah, a Director of Finance at Morgan Stanley London, decided to join a few colleagues on a nearly 200-mile charity bike ride from London to Paris, he planned appropriately. He followed what he a calls a massive training schedule on weekends and evenings to get ready for the event, which included an overnight ferry trip and a total of 13 hours of cycling to benefit the Teenage Cancer Trust. But before he could start, he had to deal with a pretty important item on his to-do list: “I had to buy a bike; I didn’t even own one at the time,” the London native says.
Then again, Isaiah isn’t someone who lets obstacles, big or small, deter him from his goals. He joined the Morgan Stanley Finance team after graduating from Brunel University London and quickly set his sights on becoming a chartered accountant. Earning the designation can often take up to five years, yet Isaiah completed 14 exams in just 24 months, all while working full time. “I probably wouldn’t have done it if the firm hadn’t supported me; it was really tough but so worth it.” He goes on to explain, “When you work in finance, it’s a milestone and a way to further your career. I wanted to be in the company of accomplished accountants.“
Today, Isaiah keeps company with colleagues all over the world, responsible for presenting firm management with a cohesive, detailed look at what is happening in the Institutional Securities Group in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), so leadership can make thoughtful strategic and operational decisions.
What is your role at the firm?
I work on the Management Reporting team. We provide senior management and the board with detailed reports on the business’s revenue and expenses. The Institutional Securities Group comprises our Fixed Income, Institutional Equity and Investment Banking divisions, and I work directly with colleagues pretty much everywhere, from London to New York to Mumbai.
My responsibilities include preparing a presentation for the EMEA chief financial officer that summarizes the region’s weekly performance. In general, I look for market themes and developments important to our businesses.
What are the skills needed to succeed in your role?
Teamwork and collaboration are very important. The faster we can get information the better, so it’s critical to have strong relationships across the firm.
You also need to be able to take large amounts of complex information from many different business units and distill those details into easy-to-understand commentary. Over time, I’ve gotten to know most of our businesses pretty well. When I go out and speak to their controllers, I need to be able to understand what they’re talking about, so I can then share that information with senior management.
There is an enormous emphasis on mentorship at Morgan Stanley. Have you participated in any of those programs?
I take part in the Reverse Mentoring Program, which is quite interesting. The program pairs people who are just starting in their careers with more senior Managing Directors. It essentially flips the script on mentoring, providing management with feedback on working with Millennials. I’ve talked to a lot to the Managing Director I’m teamed with about working style, flexible work arrangements and new workspaces. One topic that has come up a lot is how a manager can be approachable from the perspective of a junior member of our team. I love the program, in part because it really shows the firm is encouraging new ways of doing things.
What do you enjoy the most about your work?
It’s rewarding when people are very interested in reading the work I produce and find it useful. There’s a bit of pressure in working with management, especially to get things done in a timely way, but the fast pace of the job makes it quite exciting.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I have been dancing since I was a teenager, training in hip-hop, ballet, and tap. During school, I was part of a dance team that performed on a British dance competition television show. That was an incredible experience. I still dance and do shows here and there, mainly focusing on hip hop. It’s an amazing creative outlet for me and a way to express myself. Dance has always been my hobby—my passion, really—and it’s great that I have the opportunity to keep doing it.
In addition to the cycling fundraiser, have you participated in any of Morgan Stanley’s other charitable efforts?
I’ve volunteered many times through the firm. One of my favorite opportunities was during our annual Global Volunteer Month in June. I went with a colleague to a primary [elementary] school in Tower Hamlets, a borough close to our London Headquarters, and each of us was paired with two 10-year-old students. We would sit and talk with the kids about coping skills, like finding patience when things get hard, and we worked with them on things like presentation skills, too. We enjoyed it so much that we continued volunteering with our students after Global Volunteer Month ended. To see the children develop, grow and become more confident was incredibly rewarding. I really appreciate that Morgan Stanley offers such incredible opportunities to give back to our communities.