As a final year student at the National Institute of Technology, Surathkal, in the Indian port city of Mangaluru, Komal wasn’t sure she wanted to work in financial services. She attended one of the firm’s recruiting events, but as a computer and technology major who discovered her love for the field in her first semester when introduced to coding, she had always assumed she would pursue a career in Big Tech. When friends who had completed their preplacement interviews with Morgan Stanley recruiters expressed their enthusiasm for the firm and the opportunities they saw, however, Komal’s interest was piqued.
She applied and was accepted into Morgan Stanley’s Technology Analyst Program (TAP) in Mumbai, an immersive 15-week training program that exposes enrollees to every aspect of financial technology, from basic terms and principles to artificial intelligence and natural language processing. It was an experience Komal now describes as “pivotal,” both professionally and personally. “For me, TAP provided the perfect transition from college to work,” she says.
Komal has progressed quickly within Morgan Stanley, moving from TAP to an Associate position in the Wealth Management business a year later. In the four years since then, she has been promoted within the division three times, to Senior Associate, then Manager, and last year, to her current position as Senior Manager. She and her team support various systems and programs, including a new application that allows thousands of Morgan Stanley financial advisors throughout the U.S. to consolidate and automate their expertise and data on to a single platform.
What is your role at Morgan Stanley?
I’m a technologist supporting the Morgan Stanley Wealth Management business. The project that I'm supporting is aimed at helping financial advisors in their day-to-day activities, as well as helping them to connect with one another and share their expertise more easily.
You credit Morgan Stanley’s training program TAP, which you joined right out of college, for smoothing your transition between school and work. How so?
It’s very difficult to go straight from college into a strange new job, where the culture is totally different from what you’ve been used to your whole life—which is mainly studying! Not every company makes it easy for people to make that transition. But Morgan Stanley is committed to that and TAP actively helped all the of trainees feel like we belonged from the first session on the first day.
Our whole group—probably about a hundred people or so—immediately began interacting with one another, and over the next five or six months, we absorbed technical knowledge from departments all over Morgan Stanley and then worked on smaller teams to follow a set of requirements and bring a project to completion. Then we had to present those projects to the department that initiated it.
That experience of building something and launching it internally—and listening to others within the firm explain what they do and how technology connects to their work—helped everyone learn the ins and outs of what it takes to get something done at Morgan Stanley. It also built our confidence and helped us bond as friends as well as colleagues. TAP helped connect us to one another and to all of Morgan Stanley. And that connection is still there.
Did you also find mentors in the program?
Oh, yes, definitely. A couple of people in particular, who have also become good friends, have helped me so much. They give me constructive suggestions on how I can improve and specific strategic advice about what I can do to gain more skills, learn new technologies and advance in my career. That sort of support from management is very typical of Morgan Stanley. I think it grows out of the warm, informal work environment that we have here.
How would you characterize that environment if, for instance, someone considering a job at Morgan Stanley in Bengaluru asked you what it’s like to work there? What would you say?
I would mention first how different it is from what they might assume. I came in expecting a very formal corporate culture, but I was really surprised. On the inside, things are quite different from what they might appear on the outside.
In addition to the friendly atmosphere, Morgan Stanley has a remarkably flexible work culture. The main focus here is on getting a task completed, rather than on simply putting in fixed hours from 9 to 5. If you need to finish a task by end of day, you can work on it in the morning or the evening; the responsibility for getting your work done is up to you. That means you can manage your own work/life balance, which I really like. How you do something is what matters here, not when.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I don’t know where I’ll be in five years, but in the short term, I just want to keep learning all I can as a technologist and to try to implement what I learn in the most innovative way I can: to add to my skills, to keep growing and supporting my team and to try as many new things as possible. There are so many opportunities as a technologist at Morgan Stanley, and I want to take advantage of whatever comes my way.