Jessica Hainey is an Executive Director at Morgan Stanley, a global investment bank operating in 43 countries worldwide. She joined Morgan Stanley in 2000 via the technology graduate programme and has worked in a variety of projects across sales, trading and operations technology as a java developer, system architect, product owner and development manager, becoming Executive Director in just nine years. Jessica is currently working in Institutional Technology as the Global Development Manager for Client Allocation Systems.
Tell us a little bit about a day in the life of a Global Development Manager
Finance is a fast-paced industry where plans and priorities change quickly as the markets react to world events and moves by other institutions or regulators, so there isn’t really a typical day! That said I spend some time each day keeping up with the team in one to one meetings and on global calls, making sure everyone is happy and new features that are being planned fit into the overall architecture. Another important aspect of my role is making sure senior managers and clients are up to date on what we are doing, that we are on track for budget and that resourcing and training plans are all working well. The final slice of time is my individual work – meeting with users to understand requirements for projects I have taken a direct role in, coming up with a solution, working with the team to get new features developed and testing out that it is all working as expected.
What did you study or what experience did you obtain in order to get in to your current role?
I have a four year BEng in Computer Science from York which included a one year industrial placement. This was a real advantage when it came to interviews, as I had real work experience, and an extra year to mature. I then joined Morgan Stanley’s technology graduate programme, which provided a great foundation for my career. Technology graduates from all the global offices train together for three+ months, you an opportunity to make a global network of friends – meaning you always have someone to call for the inside line or a little background information. After the initial training, I joined a strategic renovation programme, which was replacing the Equity department’s old mainframe systems with a new distributed Java platform. The team was a mix of technologists and embedded business staff analyzing trade flows, market by market and product by product, to see how they all worked and what we needed to port ‘as-is’ and what we could improve on. This was a fantastic start to my career, giving me a chance to build deep knowledge of one of the Firm’s biggest divisions, as well as develop a network of business contacts and new skills. Over time my strong organisational drive, renovation background and interest in soft skills, like presenting, planning and coaching lead me naturally to larger leadership roles in related teams as the renovation programme moved forward, culminating in my current role as a global cross-asset lead.
What do you most enjoy about your role?
I like the fact that our users are right here with us, in the same firm, so relationships can be quite informal and flexible. If something is taking longer than expected or not turning out to be as useful as the user hoped, it’s easy to get together and decide whether it’s worth continuing or whether we should change the plan. This also means you get a real sense of achievement when changes are completed – we can drop in on our users and see the impact of our latest changes as soon as they are finished. I like that finance is a quick moving environment, it means there is always something new happening and it’s easy to keep your work interesting. I also enjoy the practical side of managing a team – the relationships you build with people, seeing junior members of the team grow and having control over the small things that can make a team feel special.
Can you tell us a little bit about what is great about working at Morgan Stanley?
Morgan Stanley is a great place to work – which is why I’ve been here more than a decade! My colleagues are a big plus – smart, helpful, focused and friendly, they are definitely a reason to want to come to work every day. Working in a large international firm means colleagues are always available too – no matter how difficult the question or what hour of day, help is only an email or a phone call away, which leads to a more relaxed and balanced work environment than I was expecting when I first considered working in finance technology as a career. As a developer, I also really enjoy the way technology is vital to the firm – the engines, algorithms and user interfaces we develop are a very large part of what the firm is selling, and so technology is a key department and you can feel that closeness to the business every day.
Do build your network upwards and outwards – when great opportunities come up you want your name on the list, which can only happen if the relevant people know your name.
Do you network either internal or externally?
I am involved in several internal networks, including the Morgan Stanley Women’s Business Alliance. I’m also in the Morgan Stanley NetAsia network. Primarily aimed at those who are from or have worked in Asia it is open for all and it gives me a great insight into one of the fastest growing areas of the world – although my Mandarin is still no further along than hello and sorry! Externally I have acted as both panelist and host for CityView’s undergraduate events, which are a great opportunity to meet my peers as well as potential new recruits. More generally, I find training and social events are often a great opportunity for meeting new contacts – if you get the chance to do external training classes or interbank sporting events – always say yes!
Tell us about your own career aspirations?
When I left university I didn’t have a career plan, I just wanted to work in the city for a while! So early in my career I focused less on career progression and more on looking for projects I would enjoy, colleagues I would want to work with and leaving everything (projects, code modules, teams) in a better state than I found them! I do think that moving further on in my career will require a more structured approach though – COO and MD titles are not easy to come by. For me the focus is on the breadth of my experience so after more than a decade mostly in the Equity Cash middle-office I’m making a move to the Derivatives front office technology space which should provide something new and interesting to work on today and provide me a broader platform for the future.
What advice would you give to someone wanting a career in your profession?
Go for it! There is a massive range of jobs in finance technology – it’s far more diverse than people expect. We have network experts, graphic artists, mathematicians working on algorithms, database experts and Unix admins, security specialists, mobile developers, business analysts, testers, and of course developers working in a wide variety of languages – you name it and I’m sure we can find someone doing it. Across all roles, the standards are high so you’ll need to be talented, work hard and play to your strengths to keep up with some outstanding colleagues. Don’t be afraid to step up and volunteer to take on new tasks, the more experience you gain, the faster your skills and understanding of your abilities will grow. For the longer-term, every firm and job needs different skills – mentors and/or sponsors will be invaluable in helping you map out what is needed in your role so make sure you have at least one! Finally, do build your network upwards and outwards – when great opportunities come up you want your name on the list, which can only happen if the relevant people know your name.