Whether you’re starting out or at the top of your game, there’s no lack of advice from people, books, and industry gurus on how to succeed. At Morgan Stanley, we believe that experience is the best teacher when you have a culture based on collaboration and camaraderie. We asked some of our female employees at different stages of their careers about the best advice they have to share, or have received along the way, as they pave career paths in the fast-paced, highly competitive global industry of finance.

1. DON'T SAY YES TO EVERY OPPORTUNITY

“Don’t miss out on potentially fantastic roles or jobs by thinking that you need to follow a particular career path. But don’t say 'yes' to every opportunity that’s offered to you either. Make sure you have someone you trust, who can help you think through opportunities as they come up.”

Celeste Mellet Brown
Managing Director, Corporate Treasurer

2. NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR BEING YOURSELF

“When I first started my career, I used to be apprehensive about voicing my opinions, so I’d often apologize for giving them. My boss told me I should never apologize for being myself, and that advice has been transformative.”

Katy Zhao
Vice President, Investment Products & Services, Wealth Management

3. SET REALISTIC GOALS, THEN EXCEED THEM

“Always set realistic goals for what you can deliver to a client, and then make sure you exceed them. There are many things that will help you along in your career, but it's the track record of your work that ultimately follows you and sets a precedent for who you are.”

Megan Maloney
Analyst, Investment Banking, Technology Coverage

4. YOU NEED A DREAM, A GOAL, AND PASSION

“First, you need to have a dream; second, an idea of what your goal is; and third, passion. Obviously having the skill set and working hard are important, but if you don’t have a dream and a goal, then don’t be surprised when you don’t get there. And if you don’t fill your dream with passion, then you can become disheartened about your career choice during the tough times. And there are always tough times in a cyclical business like finance.”

Wei Sun Christianson
CEO Morgan Stanley China, Co-CEO Morgan Stanley Asia Pacific
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5. ADMIT YOUR MISTAKES

“My boss once told me to always have the strength to admit when I’m wrong. There’s nothing more intimidating than realizing you’ve made a mistake, and it takes a lot of confidence and courage to admit it. Just remember that we’re all human, and it’s better to own up to mistakes rather than hide them. (Plus they rarely stay hidden). It really builds respect and trust among a team.”

Elizabeth Elliott
Associate, Equity Research

6. TRANSPARENCY AND HONESTY ARE KEY

“When I got my first management position nearly 15 years ago, my global manager said to remember, 'Transparency and honesty are key to managing relationships and gaining trust from people. And it’s harder than you think.' It’s true. It’s incredibly hard sometimes to deliver a message you know someone is not going to like, but in the long run, it really pays off to be as transparent about a situation as you can be.”

Yuki Hashimoto
Managing Director, Head of Fixed Income, Japan

7. BROADEN YOUR NETWORK

“It’s incredibly beneficial to your career to broaden your network outside your immediate team. If you build relationships with colleagues in other teams or divisions, it’ll give you a support network you can turn to for career advice. I think that having a good network can also help you do your job better, because you are better connected to the wider business.”

Jessica Alsford
Executive Director, Head of Sustainable+Responsible Investment, Equity Research
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8. HAVE A MENTOR AND KEEP YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR

“One senior manager once said to us that learning and using technology is the easy part; it’s dealing with people that’s complicated. To a great extent, your quality of work will speak for itself, but I’ve found that having a mentor is invaluable. I think we can easily become emotionally invested in tiny issues, and it helps to have someone to go to who can help you put things in perspective and keep your eye on your goals. Also, never lose your sense of humor!”

Rose-Gaëlle (R-G) Belinga
Associate, Technology and Data
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9. WORK HARD AND TAKE RISKS

“The best piece of advice that I have received was 'Work hard, take risks, and keep it simple.' I have always been a believer that hard work is the great equalizer in anything that you do, both professionally and personally. I also believe that risk/reward is a concept that applies not simply to investments but to everything you do in life. Taking calculated risks, betting on yourself, puts you in a position to learn, regardless of whether you succeed or fail. People can overcomplicate issues in life by focusing too much on the minor details and losing track of the macro issue at hand, but if you keep it simple by working hard and taking risks, you might surprise yourself.”

Alicia Aemisegger
Associate, Merchant Banking and Real Estate Investing