Anjelica Kelly, who works as a VP in Morgan Stanley’s investment bank, has a piece of advice for junior bankers: No matter how many hours you put in, don’t think that doing your day job well is enough to get promoted. You have to go above and beyond to impress senior bankers – and this means networking, both with your superiors and peers.
Kelly came into banking relatively late, after completing an MBA at Columbia Business School in 2013, having previously spent nearly two years as a legislative research analyst in the office of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer. She came to Morgan Stanley as an associate in the fixed income corporate coverage group after interning at the bank during her studies and was promoted to VP in January.
“I felt very prepared when I was promoted to VP and felt that I had been executing at that level for some time, as my managers gave me the leverage and space to punch above my weight,” Kelly said. “After taking on my new role, I became a bit more involved with the client conversations, presenting analysis and final recommendations to the client rather than being solely focused on the preparation of the materials.”
Investment banks tout their corporate social responsibility schemes, but Kelly recommends volunteering for as many of these as you can possibly handle. This is not just about altruism – it also helps move your career forward.
For example, Morgan Stanley organizes the U.S. Strategy Challenge, a program where a few of the bank’s associates and VPs provide pro-bono strategic advice to nonprofit organizations over a ten-week period culminating in a competition. Kelly raised her hand to participate, and her four-person team won this year based on their strategic recommendations for Tuesday’s Children, a response and recovery organization that supports youth and families impacted by terrorism, including 9/11 first-responders.
“The Strategy Challenge allows you to be in a leadership role that you might not be in your typical work environment – it’s the responsibility of the team to divide roles, come up with a strategy and a recommendation to the charity, so I see it as a professional development opportunity as well as a way to give back,” Kelly said.
The adviser that Morgan Stanley assigned to Kelly’s Strategy Challenge team was Clark Anderson, a managing director, the global head of country risk and the COO of credit risk management.
“We have a managing director who also devotes his time to serve as our coach and adviser throughout the project,” Kelly said. “Our team had a really great manager who provided guidance and support and who we could bounce ideas off of.”
It also, of course, helps increase your visibility among senior managers and peers.
“In the Strategy Challenge, you’re working amongst a peer group of other high-performers in their respective divisions, and I didn’t know teammates previously – the bank pairs you with people you would not have come across in your normal work environment, people in compliance, finance and wealth management in addition to investment banking, including our MD adviser, a very senior officer in our credit department who I had not had the opportunity to work with previously, which was by far one of the biggest benefits of doing this,” Kelly said.
As a junior banker clocking 80+ hours a week, the prospect of having to network just to get promoted or getting involved in CSR activities to get in front of senior managers is an exhausting prospect. But Kelly says that even if juniors feel overwhelmed by their workload, they should be participating in networking opportunities and firm-related extracurricular activities, including volunteering their time to support nonprofit organizations.
“It’s important to pursue chances to develop professionally outside of your day-to-day work routine to develop skills and cultivate other things you do away from your desk,” Kelly said. “I’ve really looked at professional development as a muscle that I need to exercise, trying to find ways that I can do that, even outside of my day-to-day job of client presentations and detailed analysis.”
Photo courtesy of Morgan Stanley