“I’ve always been deeply interested in technology and understanding exactly how things work,” says Katie, who channeled her fascination with science into her studies at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, where she spent seven years earning bachelor’s and PhD degrees in chemistry.
As an undergraduate, Katie worked for a year at a nanotechnology startup in Tempe, Arizona, in a so-called industrial placement program typical for university students in Europe. The “coolest part of the job,” she says, was a 30-foot plasma tube that heated solid materials to four times the temperature of the surface of the sun to create a loose collection of atomized particles. Katie and her colleagues developed applications for those nanoparticles, such as reducing toxic emissions from cars.
Now an Vice President with Morgan Stanley Research in London, Katie has embraced a job that she “never even knew existed” until a friend in investment banking suggested that she apply for an internship. She sees similarities between being a scientist and her current role, including the need for never-ending curiosity and the ability to process highly complex information. One notable advantage of working for the firm: “Although I’ve done some pretty deep-dive academic research, I actually find my job today even more intellectually stimulating.”
I grew up a couple hours north of London in a rural farming county called Lincolnshire. My dad worked in business as a consultant, and my mother was a psychology teacher.
As I got through my PhD, I realized that what I found interesting about the technology I was working on was its application, rather than purely the academics behind it. I decided to look for work that would give me exposure to a bunch of different businesses that were using different kinds of technologies.
I took an internship to try working in Equity Research at Morgan Stanley London and I absolutely loved it. When you work in a big corporation like this, you have access to some of the brightest minds in the industry.
I tend to describe it as almost a mixture of journalism and deep-dive analysis. Such a huge part of our job is being on top of news flow, closely following the news as it happens. A journalist may focus on a specific region of the world, or a specific area of news, and we do the same thing, but for a specific industry or a specific group of companies. The difference is that we are always conducting research with a view of working out the value of shares in companies for our clients, such as hedge funds and pension funds.
I’m on the capital goods team in Europe, and we cover industrial companies, such as train and wind turbine manufacturers. Our day-to-day responsibilities vary a lot. One day, we'll be working on writing an in-depth report on rail infrastructure and how that could change over the next couple of years, the next day, we might explore expected trends in artificial intelligence for the next decade. I really enjoy the level of autonomy I have in deciding what needs to get done each day.
What advice do you have for students or recent graduates interested in working at a financial services firm?
The first advice I usually give people is to do an internship if they can. I think internships are a great opportunity to get to know one area really well, while meeting people from departments all across the firm. I first started to connect with people at Morgan Stanley during my internship. There are so many interesting jobs here that you don't even know exist until you're in the building.
Some people mistakenly think that in Equity Research, we're locked up in an office somewhere, just on our computers or plugging away at our financial models. But actually, so much of our time is spent talking to, and meeting, people. We travel a lot to visit the management of the companies we cover and with industry experts, to gain a deep understanding of the industry and its players, ultimately sharing our analysis and perspectives with clients.
I really enjoy running. I’m marking a milestone birthday this year, and I wanted a big challenge. A few friends suggested we do an ultramarathon together. The race we’re doing is a 45-mile lap of Lake Windermere, which is the largest lake in England. It’s just beautiful there, with hills and mountains. So even if I collapse during the run, at least I’ll do it in a really nice place!
My team is incredible. You will not meet more intelligent people than the people working here at the firm. Everyone is so interesting, and they’re genuinely lovely. I also have a boss who truly wants me to do well. We work very hard here, and managers are great about recognizing and rewarding that hard work. My team is a huge, huge reason why I love my job.