Mandell Crawley has held a slew of different roles in his nearly 30 years at Morgan Stanley, paving his path from intern to senior leadership with hard work, a collaborative mindset and an appetite for learning new things. But wherever he goes, he always tapes a list to his office wall called “Things That Matter,” excerpts from which include:
- People first
- Everyone is included
- Leadership matters
They’re values Crawley learned when he was a 17-year-old high school student living on the West Side of Chicago and working at a relatively small municipal bond sales and trading desk. “It was about as foreign an experience as you can imagine,” he recalls. But he adapted quickly. “I was running errands, grabbing lunches. The team really liked my hustle.” And Crawley, for his part, liked that he was embraced immediately and given a chance to go wherever his talents led him. “The level of emotional intelligence, warmth and inclusiveness of the people on that desk played a huge role in my ability to operate in an industry like ours with the confidence I have.”
He describes those values, which so impressed him as a teenager, as a “common thread” woven through his career at Morgan Stanley. Having spent more than three years helming the Private Wealth Management business—after stints as Global Chief Marketing Officer and Head of U.S. Fixed Income Sales & Distribution for Wealth Management, among other roles, it’s not surprising that Crawley has taken on the mantle of Chief Human Resources Officer at Morgan Stanley. Here he shares some of his thoughts about embarking on this next chapter and reflects on what brought him here.
You’ve had a long career at Morgan Stanley, achieving success in a variety of different roles and businesses. Why Human Resources and why now?
When you think about the administrative components of Human Resources, it’s not at all obvious that I should be the CHRO. But at a macro level, it’s all about people and culture. And that’s been the common denominator in every remit that I’ve had. The people piece, and being a steward of the firm’s culture, is what’s inspired me to take this on.
As for why now, there’s a confluence of big, meaty issues that we are all grappling with, as a firm and as a society at large, whether it’s the future of the workplace or racial equity—all of these things that the accelerant of the pandemic has caused us to have to deal with head on. How do we take care of our employees, how do we build an equitable culture, while still making sure we continue to grow as a franchise? When thinking about all those things, I got pretty excited about being at the table and having an opportunity to influence those decisions.
This isn’t the first time you stepped outside your comfort zone. You headed up the Morgan Stanley Marketing division in 2015, moving from the Head of Wealth Management, Business Development. What led you to decide to take that on?
It was an exciting role for me because I had spent my entire career learning about the firm, our value-add to clients and our value proposition to society as a whole. It’s a privilege to take a world-class brand and have the opportunity to articulate the role that our firm plays. I’ve always been someone who truly believes in the culture here and wants to get other people excited about it, which is something I will continue to do as Chief Human Resources Officer.
In short, as a firm, we will set aspirational targets to essentially define success for Morgan Stanley in the context of some of these things that we’ve been communicating on the diversity and inclusion front, not just to the marketplace, but to our own employees. We want to be a place where everybody feels they actually belong, and representation is a big part of that.
Taking the unprecedented step of publicly laying out what success looks like for us across our community, in a much more explicit way than we historically have, is a really big deal for the organization.
That’s the quantifiable aspect. And then there’s the qualitative aspect, right? So you match those fairly rigorous and measurable goals by ensuring that they are working to make people feel that they belong and are an important part of the organization. To me, those are the big outputs.
Morgan Stanley recently stood up the Institute for Inclusion, which is dedicated not only to driving workplace diversity and inclusion but to investing in underserved communities. What has been the response within the firm to this other recent diversity initiatives?
I’ve been really encouraged by the level of enthusiasm from our majority colleagues around getting the firm to a better place. That’s not to say that we don’t have skeptics or that this isn’t a difficult goal to achieve. But, by and large, I think there are a lot believers in what we’re trying to do. I always use the expression, “We won’t get to perfect, but we’ll get to better.”
You mentioned that culture is the bedrock of what we do here, but also that the workplace is changing. How can you maintain that culture when people may be working remotely in some iteration long-term?
That’s certainly a challenge. I don’t know if anybody has cracked that code yet on that. But it is a theme that obviously transcends Morgan Stanley and the industry. We’re social creatures, and not just in terms of employee to employee, but with clients.
The good news is: I do think a hybrid world could be a little bit of a Goldilocks situation, where people can have a bit more flexibility, and not have to deal with things like crazy commutes every single day. And I think that there’s a bit of additional productivity and work-life balance that can come from that.
At the firm level, we’re starting to put together a task force to take this on. As you can imagine, this is going to be an incredibly complicated, multidimensional problem to solve. It’s probably going to mean very different things for very different groups of employees, depending on if you’re sitting on a trading desk vs. in HR, as an example. I do think you’re going to have to have that ability to flex and pivot to be able to pull it off.
I serve on the board of the National Boys and Girls Club and was previously on the board of Covenant House, NY, which focuses on the fight against youth homelessness. Helping young people fulfill their dreams is truly both a personal and professional passion of mine.