The first time around, William didn’t know what to make of Wall Street. While an economics major at the University of Chicago, he interned in Sales and Trading at another bank in New York. “I was an intern during the summer of 2010, a period when markets felt very volatile and headlines were causing significant swings daily, and I went back to school feeling like I didn't control the pace of my days. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy finance and markets, but I was certainly surprised how much a difficult market could set the tone and influence the work environment.”
Encouraged by friends, William decided to give Wall Street another go. “They told me, ‘Why don’t you think about Investment Banking? It’s a step back from the market and people really seem to enjoy it.’ So I resolved to try, and the following summer, I got an internship at Morgan Stanley in the Investment Banking Business Services Group.” That same summer, he received an offer to return and joined the firm full-time in 2012. Early in 2019, William was promoted to Vice President. “Even during my summer, I found Investment Banking more appealing. It allowed me to see the problem solving done on clients’ behalf up close; it also blended quantitative skills in corporate finance with the real-world practicality of business priorities to impact client decisions. I really liked that it was both intellectual and practical, requiring a broad skillset and a well-rounded education."
The job has had its challenges, but also its rewards. “It takes time to develop the skills to give quality counsel of the caliber that you do in a place like Morgan Stanley. But if you’re patient, the role is very gratifying.”
William looks for opportunities to share that positive experience at Morgan Stanley by taking an active role in recruiting students to the firm from his alma mater. He is also involved specifically in minority recruiting for the firm. For example, he has spoken at a panel for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering Latinx families with the knowledge and resources to earn a higher education degree and succeed in their careers, and spends time helping future applicants draft their resumes and prepare for job interviews.
I like that my day can be influenced by the market but isn't dominated by it. So if it’s a bad day in the market, I’m pretty insulated from that. I also get to think about broader and more long-term strategy for my clients, which I enjoy.
I’m part of a team that advises management or owners of companies when they want to undertake an action, such as selling the company, buying another company, or choosing to go public.
I don’t think there's a typical day, but generally, it’s based around communication. We gather information, apply the needed analysis, and provide judgments based on that. It is about making sure my team has everything they need to deliver for the client on what we promised.
There’s lots of attention paid to job satisfaction. I spent three years in Business Services as an Analyst focused on M&A. I enjoyed it. But when I became an Associate, I told them, I don't feel I’ve gotten enough exposure to equity. I just raised my hand and said: ‘I’d like to do something different.’ Two or three months later, I got a call saying, ‘There's a spot open.’ So I did a rotation for almost a year in equity capital markets.
Yes, I have. It’s been somewhat organic—people I’ve worked with taking an interest in my career. Separately, I’ve been part of a program called ISG Connects which is a mentorship program that matches senior leader mentors to junior employees. I was paired with a mentor—a senior Managing Director on another floor—whom I had interacted with briefly but never engaged with directly. And now he knows everything about where I am in my career. That’s been awesome, to develop a relationship with someone where it wouldn’t have happened organically, because he’s in a very different functional role at the bank.
You need to be motivated to learn something that isn't necessarily intuitive or codified in books. You really have to learn by doing it over and over and over. But it's rewarding, at this point, to be able to lead a client meeting, set the agenda, provide judgment and have an Analyst or Associate see that you know what you're doing, which helps them gain confidence that they can get to that level themselves. Once your position starts to be more outward-facing, it's like the moment when you take the training wheels off and you say, "Oh, I can ride the bike."
I have an outsider's view, growing up in the Southeast, and my family is originally from Colombia. I can’t recall a family member or friend who had ever worked on Wall Street, so I didn’t know exactly what to expect when I joined. It’s been eye-opening to see how much of a difference we can make for our clients—our hard work and long hours can help ensure a great outcome for these large organizations with thousands of stakeholders.
We have a senior Managing Director here who likens the job to training for a marathon or being a triathlete. You’ve got to do your pushups and your sit-ups, you’ve got to run really hard every day. So then, one day, you’re ready to go the distance. I think that view of it, the value of crafting your skills over time, is incredibly helpful. It changed my mindset and I pivoted from, "Gosh, what am I doing today, this week, this month?" to "What have I learned? What skills am I gaining? What more can I get out of it all?’”