Carla Harris has achieved the highest heights of success as Vice Chairman for Morgan Stanley. She is genuinely a Fairygodboss, providing useful advice to others through her books, such as Expect To Win. In addition to being an executive and author, Carla finds time to perform sold-out shows at Carnegie Hall and is a new mother. Carla teaches us all about the importance of “relationship currency” and how it can help drive your career forward.
Fairygodboss of the Week: Carla Harris Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley New York, NY
FGB:Tell us about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
CH:I started my career in investment banking at Morgan Stanley, immediately after I graduated from Harvard Business School. I started in the Mergers and Acquisitions department and then migrated to capital markets in the early Nineties, just when the equity markets were starting to take off. After almost 20 years in capital markets, I moved again to help the firm start a fund that would invest in women and minority asset managers, and then became a Vice Chairman working with clients across the firm in wealth management, investment banking, and our other businesses.
FGB: What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
CH: I am very proud of having a reputation as an outstanding banker and public speaker. I’ve recorded 3 CDs, authored 2 books, performed 5 sold out concerts for charity at Carnegie Hall, and now I’m a new mother!
FGB: What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
CH: One of the most important things I’ve learned is that there is more to one’s success equation than just being smart and working hard. As I acquired some of the “pearls” that I write about in my books, Expect To Win and Strategize to Win, I started to understand the other things that contribute to one’s success like relationships, inspiring people’s perception of you and the importance of taking risks.
FGB: What do you do when you’re not working? CH: Play golf
FGB: If you could have dinner with one famous person - dead or alive - who would it be? CH: Barbara Jordan and Oprah Winfrey
FGB: What is your karaoke song? CH: Last Dance by Donna Summer
FGB: What is your favorite movie CH: Sparklewith Irene Cara
FGB: What book would you bring with you on a desert island? CH: The Bible
FGB: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery? CH: Shopping Vice: St. John’s suits
If I won the lottery, I would invest in emerging companies started by women and entrepreneurs of color, as they still have challenges access growth capital.
FGB: Who is your Fairygodboss? CH: My Fairygodboss is my mother because she was the master multitasker, and instilled me an appetite for excellence. She enabled me to see that you could truly have it all: she was not only a mother, but a consummate professional, mentor, wife, philanthropist and pursued her personal passions.
FGB: What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you? CH: The number one career tip that I would share with women is to invest in relationships, or relationship currency. Performance currency is important and will help to create a strong reputation for you in the workplace, but it is the relationship currency that will help you to ascend in any environment.