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Morgan Stanley’s new IB MENA chief on the importance of keeping your head down during a crisis

Patrick-Delavanis

When Morgan Stanley unveiled its list of new managing directors there were a lot of New York investment bankers, a good proportion of women and an unusually high number of techies on the list. However, just one person made in on the list from the Middle East – Patrick Delivanis.

At the time, he was working in the FIG division of Morgan Stanley’s investment bank in Dubai, having been a low-key figure in the region for the past eight years. However, in late February he was elevated to head of investment banking for the MENA region following the departure of Klaus Froehlich, who returned to Frankfurt for senior role at the bank.

He tells us about his career and what the outlook is for investment banking in the Middle East.

Are you optimistic about prospects for investment banking in the Middle East this year? 

We are optimistic, yes, because we can see that both the level of activity and general confidence in the regional markets are now picking up again. We think regional equity capital markets will continue to be more active during 2014. Regional debt capital markets are developing well and becoming more innovative and regional M&A will likely be strong as both corporations and sovereign wealth funds have funds to deploy both within the region and overseas. Morgan Stanley has had a consistent presence in this region for many years now and this consistency has now positioned us well to win new client mandates and maintain our regional relationships.

How did you break into investment banking? What advice would you give others looking to do so now?

I joined the industry out of college in the U.S. I had a strong interest in investment banking and this fact would probably form the basis of my advice to others – make sure you are really committed to following this path. It is hard work, certainly rewarding, but hard work nonetheless. I would advise anyone considering a career in banking to run through all the options beforehand. If it is what you want to do and you are passionate about it then you are far more likely to be successful. This held true back then, but is even more important these days.

Why did you decide to move to the Middle East?

I had spent five years in the industry in New York, as well as some time in London. The time was right, back in late 2006, to do something different, to work in a growth or emerging market. I also have some personal and family ties to the Middle East, so that was an extra attraction for me as well. And finally, Morgan Stanley were keen for me to move out here given we had just opened our first physical office in Dubai, making it an option which suited everyone.

What was your biggest break?

I joined the industry with another firm in September 2000, at the tail end of the dotcom boom. The fallout from the internet bubble bursting was severe, with a lot of people being laid off at all levels. At the time, I got lucky enough to be placed in a group within the investment bank which had a genuine business need for an analyst, even though this was not my “first choice”. I simply closed my eyes, put my head down, and worked to the best of my ability. This probably helped protect my role better than some others, so I was lucky in that regard.

What matters most, talent or hard work?

They both matter and to be honest you cannot be truly successful without one or the other. That said, someone who is talented but does not apply themselves will likely not succeed or meet their full potential, whereas a hard worker who pushes themselves beyond their limits will ultimately be rewarded.

What three things would you advise someone to do before stepping into an interview with you?

The usual advice people are given before an interview is to be prepared, be honest and not too scripted. The reason this is the usual advice is because it is effective. For me, focusing on the personal traits of a candidate is as important as the technical element – let’s be honest, you wouldn’t have gotten into the room without meeting the majority of the technical criteria.

Candidates should be honest about why something has not worked out in the past or why it went wrong, rather than trying to sugarcoat it or avoid talking about it. I also appreciate the ability to talk well or constructively about former employers, even if it ended badly.

What would you do if you weren’t working in finance?

I would be running a small business in Dubai. Actually, I’d probably be working for my wife who already runs two small businesses in Dubai, which cater to indoor cycling and indoor kids play respectively. I’m not sure if she’d have me – but if she did, then that’s probably what I’d do, at least for a time.

What do you do to relax?

Spend time with my family, go down to the beach with them or travel somewhere new. Travel is a big part of our lives. I enjoy casual lunches with my wife, the occasional game of tennis and maybe some time at Flywheel as well.

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