Evan Damast, a Managing Director in Global Capital Markets, is the Global Head of Equity and Fixed Income Syndicate. In his role, Damast advises companies on raising equity and debt capital and works closely with the firm’s Equity, Investment Grade, and Leveraged Finance syndicate desks, issuers and fund managers. His previous roles at Morgan Stanley include Global Head of Equity Syndicate and Head of Natural Resources Equity Capital Markets. During his more than 15 years at the firm, Damast has worked on some of the firm’s most significant transactions, including the initial public offering for Alibaba in 2014 and, more recently, Spotify’s direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange.
Damast earned a bachelor’s in Finance and Accounting from the University of Michigan and a Master of Business Administration in Finance from New York University’s Stern School of Business.
How did you arrive at the firm? What are your current responsibilities?
I have always had a passion for investing and learning about what makes companies succeed. In college, I gravitated toward studying finance and I saw investment banking as a natural fit. I came to Morgan Stanley as a Summer Associate, while pursuing an MBA, and returned as a full-time Associate in the Mergers & Acquisitions group in the Investment Banking division, after graduating. My time in M&A helped me build a more practical knowledge of corporate finance, including the complex decision-making process executives go through when buying or selling assets. After about a year in Investment Banking, I moved to Global Capital Markets, joining the Equity Syndicate Desk and working on initial public offerings across emerging markets in Asia and Europe.
The transition required me to pick up a new skill set quickly, but was a great experience that put me at the intersection of the Investment Banking and Sales and Trading divisions. I spent time overseeing Natural Resources Equity Capital Markets in the Americas, and was later asked to run the Equity Syndicate Desk. I was subsequently asked to oversee the Investment Grade and High Yield Syndicate Desks to help better align the three teams. These desks advise issuers on structure and valuation for their securities. They are also responsible for allocating transactions to investors and assist in managing the firm’s risk in their respective markets.
Are there specific types of deals that you enjoy working on?
I’ve always gravitated toward complexity, and find that the most difficult deals are the ones where I can learn the most. We often work with companies that are faced with significant and complex problems, and being part of the team that designs and implements the solution is incredibly rewarding. I also find working with young, high-growth companies to be particularly fascinating, since they’re often at the forefront of innovation. Working with technology leaders requires us to innovate alongside our clients, enhancing our business for the long term. When I was an associate, I was fortunate to be part of the team that worked on the Google IPO—Morgan Stanley was one of the lead underwriters. Nearly 15 years later, I was part of the team that led Spotify’s direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange. Both deals were landmark transactions. I truly feel privileged to be part of the team that conceives solutions that help our clients to ultimately create jobs and products on a global scale.
Where do your best ideas come from?
The people who surround me—junior analysts and seasoned veterans—are immensely talented and always provide new perspectives. I like to think of both groups as bookends; that combination of energy and experience pushes all team members to consider the art of the possible when developing new ways of raising capital or structuring a deal. I also think that this creates an environment where multiple perspectives are welcome and respected. We’re essentially all here because we have the same mandate to help our clients, so a good idea is a good idea, no matter where it originates.
How do you set your team up for success?
I am a big believer in delegating tasks to team members to challenge them and stretch their capabilities. I also make it a point to never micromanage. By giving people autonomy to function independently, you’re giving them a chance to showcase their skills, as well as build on them. I also encourage people not to be a "no" person; early in my career, my mentors instilled in me that there’s a solution to almost any problem, so "no" should never be the immediate, default answer. We’re in this business to be innovative and creative—asking the right questions and designing a solution that allows for a "yes" is far and away the better, and certainly more impressive, response.
Over the course of your 15+ years at the firm, what are you most proud of?
Our business has evolved dramatically over the last two decades, and yet we are still challenged every day to innovate and think creatively. All clients now operate globally with financing and advisory needs that continue to increase. Fortunately, the firm’s leadership team has built a business that we believe can meet our clients’ needs in any market and across any product. It’s a real point of pride for me that our team can deliver best-in-class advice on large, complex transactions, even if it requires experts in multiple countries to work together seamlessly. As intricate as these transactions can be, I look forward to them, since they require significant use of my skill set and collaboration with a large global team.