As a young boy in Nigeria, Tunde’s future seemed preordained. “My father is a chartered accountant, my mother is a chartered accountant—even my grandfather was an accountant,” he says. But his parents, who jointly run an accounting firm and own a separate business, urged him to try something different. Their mom-and-pop shop would always be waiting for him, they said, if nothing else sparked his passion.
Tunde took the advice to heart. After emigrating to the U.S. and enrolling at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Geneseo, he studied physics. “I was curious about things like the difference between Newtonian mechanics vs. quantum mechanics—about the principles of how the world around me and beyond works,” he says.
His curiosity didn’t end there. Tunde triple-majored in physics, mathematics, and civil engineering and construction management, with a minor in economics, as part of a five-year dual degree program run by SUNY Geneseo and Columbia University. Then he tacked on a master’s degree in finance from the University of Rochester. So much for accounting.
Tunde was attracted to Morgan Stanley through its campus recruiting program. While he didn’t get the job he applied for as an undergraduate, soon after the completion of his degree at Rochester, he saw an opening in Derivatives Projects Operations posted online and sent in his resume. Nearly six years later, he is a Vice President in the Product Operations area of the Institutional Securities Group, a role that draws on his full range of skills from his many fields of study.
Describe your role at Morgan Stanley. What exactly do you do?
I’m on the Trading Operations projects team, supporting our fixed-income derivatives project portfolio. I describe my role as the liaison between the trading desk, the line operations team and the technology team. Let’s say the firm wants to offer a new product—what changes do we need to make to our trading platforms to facilitate that? Typically, someone on my team is responsible for doing this analysis and will work closely with the people who will trade the new products, the people downstream-processing them, and the people in technology who will be writing the code to set up the products. My team has to figure out how to make it all work. Our role is to act as both a business analyst and a project manager.
What’s something that surprised you about working here?
I had been here for only two or three weeks, and I was on a call with some very senior people. I recall listening to myself contribute to the conversation and realized people were actually agreeing with my feedback. I thought, “Oh, OK, I guess even though I’ve been here for such a short period of time, as long as I’m communicating something that adds value, people will actually listen.” That’s something I didn’t really expect. I definitely thought that if you’re junior, you would be expected to always listen to what higher-ups say and not the other way around. I didn’t expect it to be as collaborative as it turned out to be. That is the one key thing that defines working at Morgan Stanley. It’s easy to talk to people, and people are really trying to work together to solve problems.
What piece of advice have you gotten that’s stuck with you?
This came from a leader in Operations: It’s absolutely critical to make sure you’re putting in 100% effort in everything you’re involved in, to volunteer for the sorts of projects that keep you up late at night, because that is what will push you to do your best. But to really further your career, it’s important to build a network. And that means engaging with people, not just on your team and within your division, but across the entire firm. It’s just as important as doing the best job you can, because that’s what you need to do to be able to get to the next level.
How has the role of technology changed at Morgan Stanley?
If there’s something we do manually that can be automated, then we ask, OK, how do we automate it? We are also working on creating a more efficient user experience for our colleagues in Operations. Morgan Stanley is investing in a host of new innovative technologies, including distributed ledger and machine learning. We have a number of pilots running within Operations to test how we best apply those technologies to the tasks we perform. It’s definitely something that I find very interesting, and I’ve seen evolve over time.
What are a couple of accomplishments you are particularly proud of?
The first major project I worked on was the migration of trades from a legacy trading system to the firm’s strategic platform for that product—over 100,000 trades in all. It ended up being a seven-year project, which I led for the final three years.
Brexit is another initiative that I’m very proud to be a part of. I was in the UK on a short-term assignment for a year, so I was lucky to get onto the team that coordinated the initial phases of the Brexit project in Trading Operations. That involved analyzing and documenting the various trade booking flows potentially impacted by Brexit and reviewing them with stakeholders in the Business Unit, Operations, Legal and Compliance, Technology, and Finance. Everybody would come around the table and discuss how Brexit could change how we operate our business—and how we make sure our processes and technology are ready to continue serving our clients come Brexit. I felt a real sense of accomplishment being part of that initial phase and helping establish the team that has been running the Brexit project for Trading Operations to this day.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to travel. Over the last three years, I’ve been to 14 different countries across four continents, from North America to Oceania to Europe to Africa. I also enjoy experiencing different types of international cuisine, and that’s one thing New York City is great for. Korean, Brazilian, Moroccan, Swedish—I’m always open to a new type of food experience.