Debajani Mishra

Debajani Mishra, an alumni of Morgan Stanley’s Return to Work program, reflects on her journey and what she’s achieved.

Morgan Stanley is more than a leading financial services firm. With offices spanning 41 countries, talented and passionate people across the globe bring excellence and integrity to everything they do. Diverse employees work together, to deliver exceptional ideas and solutions to the world’s most complex challenges.

To find out more about Morgan Stanley’s Return to Work Program, click here.

What is your current role?

I am a Transformation Lead and an agile coach for the Enterprise Technology and Services division within Morgan Stanley.

What attracted you to the Morgan Stanley Return to Work Programme?

Prior to taking a 3-year career break, I had worked for 15 years across the Retail, CPG and Telecom industries, playing various non-technical (project manager, portfolio manager, release manager) and technical (Developer, Tech Lead, Team lead) roles for agile/non-agile projects including some key strategic initiatives.

I took the break to take care of my children and mid-way into the break, I tried my hands at an entrepreneurial initiative as a Product owner. However, I always enjoyed working in a corporate setting and came across the Women Returner website, which is where I spotted Morgan Stanley’s Return to Work Programme.

What in your mind makes this programme unique?

The programme structure was filled with opportunities to develop skills and network within Morgan Stanley, not just the Technology division but across the firm. We were given the opportunity to engage with senior leadership who shared their career stories and gave us valuable insights into both their success and setbacks. The team that I worked with were all very welcoming and supportive.

This gave me a sense of inclusion as even though I had taken a career break, I was not viewed as less capable.

The uniqueness lies in the ‘genuine intent’ of Morgan Stanley to leverage this sort of channel for recruitment.

What skills did you gain through the programme? 

I got the opportunity to work with the Change Management Team, understanding the various governance processes the team performs which is essential for keeping Morgan Stanley’s IT systems risk free. I also learnt about the different levels of risk management in the firm.

We were given access to learning portals such as Pluralsight for technical self-learning.

Besides the day job, I got involved in the Toastmaster club to improve my public speaking skills and confidence. Additionally, I was involved in a few ‘giving back’ initiatives which was a great opportunity to hone my presentation and inter-personal skills.

I am particularly passionate about gender diversity in Technology and involved in a lot of initiatives such as Computing in schools, AppsforGood and Step In Step Up, which aim to improve the pipeline of women in technology. Internally within Morgan Stanley, I help drive the recognition of women through internal and external industry awards which helps promote female talent.

What did you find most rewarding about the programme?

The projects I worked on gave me an opportunity to leverage my existing skills and experience. I was offered three different opportunities to choose from; one of which I felt very passionately connected to, which later led me to my current role as an Agile coach.

Morgan Stanley taking my passion into consideration when placing me really helped me to build on my confidence and strengthened my self-belief.

How did you benefit from the flexibility on offer from Morgan Stanley? 

The programme was a great platform to test my ability to return to a full-time work environment. I had the flexibility to work from home 2 days a week, which was fully supported by my manager and the team. This enabled me to still be able to drop off and pick my children up from school, be present for their sports day or an evening performance and most importantly stay in touch with my children’s school community.

In addition, Morgan Stanley places great importance on Employee Wellness and Wellbeing with several initiatives such as ‘Additional holidays in the summer’, extended child-care support, emergency backup care and several other family benefits which can be leveraged for making work life balance easier.

What advice would you give those thinking of relaunching their career?

Work-life balance is possible. We all have transferable skills and how we use those to get the job done is what matters. Have an open mindset to develop new skills and build out your network. I came across several colleagues within Morgan Stanley who are in a similar situation to mine. This gave me encouragement and confidence during the Return to Work programme.

There is a great network of formal and informal mentorship, such as coffee catchups that are available to everyone. These are great ways to expand your network. I get a lot of very useful and practical mentoring advice on my career, as well as work life balance tips from other women and men who are in a very similar situation to mine.

What is next for you and your career?

Morgan Stanley is a great place to explore career opportunities. The firm’s focus on mobility enables you to explore new opportunities globally within the firm. This is evident from the tenure of some of my colleagues, who have been at the firm for more than 15 years in different roles. As a Technology division, our focus is on Innovation, Effectiveness and Resiliency. I am looking forward to establishing myself as an organisational coach and a technical SME to be able to contribute to this goal.