Scene Last Night: James Gorman Shares Tips at Women’s Bond Club

Women's Bond Club
Emily Johnson, vice president, global capital markets group, Morgan Stanley, and James Gorman, president and CEO, Morgan Stanley. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Citing his 88-year-old mother, 5 sisters, 5 sisters-in-law, a wife, a daughter, and 19 nieces, James Gorman, president and chief executive officer of Morgan Stanley, said he knew a lot about successful women.

Speaking at the Women’s Bond Club Merit Award Dinner Thursday night at Pier 60, Gorman proceeded to give some career advice to the 29 women that the club was honoring as “Rising Stars.”

“Number one, you are rising stars, not stars,” Gorman said. “It’s a very important point. Your careers are still evolving. We men tend to pluck women and place you two rings ahead of yourself. Let’s let you grow at a pace that makes sense for you.

“Two: Mentors matter. Men sometimes have trouble giving you honest feedback, and, contrary to their personal lives, they over-worry about their feelings. Help them through this awkwardness.”

Gorman suggested that if a woman isn’t getting the feedback she needs, she should ask her boss to put down in writing three things she needs to do to succeed.

“Three: You have to delegate more, in order to have the time to stand back and make good judgments,” Gorman said. “If you really want to be a senior executive you have to make time to do what senior executives do.”

The Rising Stars were then called onto the stage one by one, accompanied by instrumental music that sounded straight out of an Oscars ceremony. Eventually, 29 women were posing for photographs and holding their Rising Star awards.

Business Suits

The scene was vaguely reminiscent of a beauty pageant: all business suits, of course, and no bouquets. The award was a clear glass plate with a star pattern around the border, so unassuming it was later mistaken for a saucer for a cup of coffee served with dessert, a terrine of dark chocolate and coconut gelato.

Starting in September, the women will also receive six months of executive coaching.

The Women’s Bond Club, formed in 1921, serves women across the financial services.

This year’s “Rising Stars” include the chief operating officer for the private-equity portfolio within Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, Michelle Barone; a vice president on the investment grade syndicate desk at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Maureen O’Connor; and a vice president in commodity complex risk trading at Deutsche Bank, Michelle Cheng.

At the end of the night, many guests opened the glass doors and lingered on a broad terrace overlooking the Hudson River. With the glittering New Jersey skyline and a warm spring breeze, it seemed inevitable that they would be breaking through glass ceilings, if they haven’t already.

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

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