Vivian Obodo - Morgan Stanley Return to Work programme

Vivian Obodo, 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.

Applications for the Morgan Stanley 2022 Return to Work Program are now open. Find out more and how to apply below.

What is your current role?

I am an Associate in Morgan Stanley’s Technology division in London, where I’m a Product Owner within the End User Technology department. I am currently responsible for supporting the adoption and implementation of Agile & DevOps practices and principles, acting as a liaison between the product and stakeholders.

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

I started my career in 2012 as an IT Business Analyst for an IT Consulting firm in Nigeria, primarily supporting enterprise IT solutions and applications for clients. In 2017, I left the workforce as a Senior Business Analyst to start my family after making a move to London, which was important to me in the absence of having family nearby to help with childcare. While on my 4-year career break, I had my two children and completed a Master’s degree in Information Systems at Kingston University. I was keen to stay ahead of the ever-evolving technology trends, so I also completed a certification as an Agile Foundation Practitioner.

During lockdown and while staying home, I had a lightbulb moment and wanted to achieve more for myself (not to say that fulltime parenting is not a great choice, my career break was a busy and fulfilling experience), so I started to think about the next step in my career. I stumbled on the Morgan Stanley Return to Work Program while searching online and it looked like it could be a fit for me. When I received the offer, I was extremely excited to join and relaunch my career at Morgan Stanley.

What in your mind makes this program unique?

What makes the Morgan Stanley Return to Work Program unique is how well thought out it is. I was assigned a work buddy who was amazing and a Return to Work Alumni buddy who had been through the process in a previous year. My manager also was incredibly supportive and helped connect me to other previous career returners within the Technology division.

The onboarding experience was great – the training was well detailed and helped me early on to really understand Morgan Stanley’s vision as a business, the firm’s values and how these translate into the day-to-day working culture. We had a host of Return to Work coaching seminars with Women Returners which I found to be really insightful. I had frequent sessions with my manager to discuss how I was doing and openly discuss opportunities to learn and develop. Our discussions helped me to feel that I made valuable contributions to the team early on and I was able to apply my skills to achieve the goals that we set. Personally, and professionally, the Return to Work program provided the support I needed to confidently relaunch my career.

What skills did you gain through the program?

As a Product Owner, I had access to Agile Immersion Training, Product Owner and Scrum bootcamps which brought me up to speed. I also had access to learning resources such as LinkedIn Learning which helped bridge the knowledge gap I needed to perform my role.

I joined at a time where there was an ongoing firmwide Agile Transformation which provided a great learning opportunity. With that, I got exposure to the most recent market trends which added to my expertise in Agile, Scrum, Kanban and organizational change management.

In terms of support, I have also leveraged some of the firm’s employee networks to meet people with similar interests such as Women in Technology and the Family Network. The latter also provided me with a network of other parents who shared tips on how to cope with childcare and advice on working from home while home-schooling in lockdown. Another great benefit at Morgan Stanley, is that the firm also provides emergency childcare, which is a brilliant idea for days when there is no one to watch the children.

I made some brilliant connections with other colleagues who were part of the 2021 Return to Work cohort. The group were, and continue to be, a great support to each other, as we can share similar experiences and can always reach out to one another.

What did you find most rewarding about the program?

What I found most rewarding was the fact that there was a lot to learn. I am constantly surrounded by people with brilliant minds who are passionate about their jobs. For example, prior to the program I had never heard of using an agile roadmap tool called Roadmunk. Yet, by the end of the program I was able to support my Product Owner chapter in building roadmaps with the tool. It’s been great to establish new skills and put them into practice in a professional environment.

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

My advice would be to go for it and keep an open mind. Be kind to yourself, stay confident and leverage as much support as you can. There are many transferrable skills from your career break that you can apply. I would also recommend networking as much as you can and maintain a positive outlook.

What is next for you and your career?

Twelve weeks later I was delighted to secure a fulltime role as a Product Owner in End User Technology department, by this point I had bridged the gap and settled into the rhythm of corporate life. I especially enjoy interacting with team members and various stakeholders across the firm. I love learning and every day presents a new opportunity to learn and grow. I am optimistic and look forward to a great future at Morgan Stanley.

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