Morgan Stanley Managing Directors Yuki Hashimoto (Vice Chairman) and Mari Ikegaki (Head of Japan Human Resources) shared their career stories from job searching as students up to the present.
―― First, let’s begin with your lives before joining Morgan Stanley. What was your student life like? Also, why did you decide to work in the financial industry?
Yuki Hashimoto: In my childhood, I lived overseas and moved so often; I probably never spent more than three years living in the same place. I think that experience made me outgoing, flexible, and strengthened my ability to adapt.
I majored in politics and initially was planning to pursue a career as a correspondent in mass media. However, during my job search, I went to job interviews at financial firms and became interested in jobs in the industry, which led me to where I am today.
In 1992, I began my career with another financial firm and later joined Morgan Stanley in 2008.
Mari Ikegaki: I was born and raised in Japan, so my background is the opposite of Yuki’s. Because I was raised by a working mother, it was natural for me to think about a long term career in my life. However, I didn’t have any particular interest in a certain industry.
I also wasn’t particularly passionate about job searching when I was a student. I was keener to study abroad after graduation.
I majored in English literature, so I never imagined I would work in the financial industry. But while my job search, I came across Morgan Stanley and felt a strong connection with them. As a result, I joined the firm soon after my graduation.
―― What is/has been most important to you about your work at Morgan Stanley? Has there been any turning points in your careers?
Yuki: For me, the biggest turning point was being transferred to London office in my fifth year since I started to work. I had requested the transfer as part of my career plan, but in reality, I had to start over from scratch. I was prepared to lose everything that I had built up to that point, but in the end, my years in London overlapped with the banking crises in Japan and Russia, so I gained a lot of experience and opportunities.
You may not get many chances in your career, but everyone gets their opportunity at some point. To take advantage of those opportunities, I’ve learned that it’s important to have a vision of what you want to achieve and continue pursing that vision. Also it is important to proactively grab the opportunities when they come to you.
Mari: I actually resigned two years after joining the firm to accompany my partner’s overseas assignment. When I returned to Japan, I had been out of work for five years, but I was able to return to the job I had with the Fixed Income Division at Morgan Stanley. That was the first turning point.
While I was grateful to return to a familiar environment, I was also painfully aware that I had fallen behind the others around me and I remember committing myself to working as hard as I could.
The next turning point came in my mid-thirties, when I transferred to the Human Resources Division. I did not have prior HR experience, but the opportunity arose through my career conversation with my manager’s manager.
I believe that it is important to seize opportunities and to take on new challenges even if you are not confident. Moreover, it is my value to produce outcomes which I can earn the trust of my colleagues.
―― How has being a woman impacted your career development?
Mari: I’ve never experienced any difficulties for being a woman. When I was working in the Fixed Income Division, there were less women. So it was rather an advantage for me because my clients remembered me easily. I think all the hard work is recognized regardless of gender from both the industry and firm perspective.
Yuki: I believe that as well. However, it’s also true that women face challenges prioritizing work at certain times due to childbirth, childcare or elder care responsibilities.
What’s important even during such circumstances is to continue working. You need to see it as a temporary period when you must prioritize things other than work and accept it as such. It’s important to maintain communication with those around you and work without pushing yourself, so that you can continue your career in longer term.
Mari: It’s also important to become economically independent, which brings you more freedom. Women are increasingly gaining encouragement in the workplace throughout society, including government support and better benefits at many companies. I hope that women will take advantage of them and find ways to continue working long term.
―― With regard to the career development of your team members, what do you keep in your mind and what do you do for them?
Mari: I always seek to build an environment where my team members are always able to continue to grow. That means an environment where they are not afraid of a challenge to develop their strength and they continue to grow without being afraid to make mistakes.
I was once told, “you don’t have to be like everyone else.” It was a relief to be told. It doesn’t apply for just women; I believe if each individual can be themselves, it will lead to a better outcome. Thus, I continue to make our work environment where everyone can be themselves.
We have policies and programs to support employees at different life stages and our employee networks are important resources that enable employees to share information and concerns around their personal life as well as careers.
Yuki: It is easy to get bored with continuing the same thing after achieving the goals, so I try to encourage my team members to think ahead and plan their next goals.
In addition, there will always be times when life events such as marriage, childbirth, childcare and eldercare take priority over work. So I advise and support employees according to their individual needs. For example, I try to enable those who want to earn work experience abroad to do so at an early stage.
―― How do you maintain a balance between work and life?
Yuki: I believe that taking care of my health is part of my work, so I try to remain active by enjoying hobbies like playing tennis. When I’m off, I don’t think about work at all. I value the time I can spend with my family or my pet dog and try to make time to reboot.
I always tell my team members to have a healthy work-life balance. There are times when our jobs require a great amount of focus or energy, and maintaining a good balance outside of work is important.
Mari: We can train ourselves to draw a line between work and life. In terms of work, we should focus on getting results through quick decisions, prompt action and greater focus. When we are off, let’s not dwell on work too much. It’s important to make the switch.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a hobby, travelling, exercising or something else. You should try to find something so that you can take your mind off from work. When I’m off, I try not to think about work.
―― What kind of company is Morgan Stanley? Please share a message to anyone who is considering joining the firm.
Yuki: At Morgan Stanley, all employees work closely with offices overseas and we’re connected globally. I think it’s a great environment for those who have a clear vision and goals for themselves.
To take advantage of opportunities, it’s important for you to think about why you work and that you commit to work with sincerity and determination. Even for junior employees, we have a culture to watch them grow, so anyone who has the desire and aspiration to grow can further develop their career at the firm.
Mari: We have an environment where we work as a team and learn from each other to produce high quality work with commitment to results. If you can enjoy that environment, you can continue learning and growing to build your career.
It is well suited to those who are not afraid of changes, grow from their mistakes and have the humble desire to learn. Anyone who is interested should feel free to come knocking on our door.