Keisha Smith – Member Spotlight April 2011

What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?

I am the Global Head of Campus and Experienced Hire Recruiting at Morgan Stanley. I am responsible for developing the Firmwide strategies that enable us to recruit talent across our 1200 offices in 42 countries. I have worked in the recruiting industry since graduating from the University of Virginia in 1997. I began my career as an IT recruiter at a national staffing agency in the midst of the dot-com boom.  It was there that I learned what aspects of recruitment I had a real passion for. I loved advising candidates about how to best market themselves, and I enjoyed solving complex resource issues for clients.  I eventually transitioned to a career in corporate recruitment because I found that it was best suited to my interests and strengths. I joined Morgan Stanley in 2000 as a Technology Recruiter and have spent the last eleven years at the Firm developing and executing recruiting strategies across our various lines of business.

What is the biggest challenge of your work?

The most significant challenge in my line of work is developing a cohesive Firmwide recruiting strategy that addresses the various sourcing challenges in each of our businesses and within each country where the Firm has a presence. In order to be successful in my role, I am constantly leveraging the external professional networks that I have developed over the years to keep abreast of best practices and the ever-changing competitive landscape.

What is your proudest achievement?

Some of my proudest moments have been seeing my mentees here at the Firm find their passion and develop into leaders. One of my mentees recently returned from a two-year assignment in Singapore and was promoted to a leadership role soon after that.  Another mentee is currently on assignment in London where she has been given the opportunity to manage new products.  I met both of these young women eight years ago when they were seniors in college and each time their careers reach new milestones, I could not be more proud of them.

What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?

One of the great things about my role at Morgan Stanley has been the opportunity to observe a variety of impressive leaders and leadership styles. I have a tremendous amount of admiration for Carla Harris (Managing Director, Morgan Stanley) who embodies so many of the Firm's values. Carla is both an innovator and thought leader in her field and possesses a signature style that is powerful, authentic and unique.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Looking back at the last ten years of my career, many of the roles that I have been in did not exist when I first joined the Firm. What I have learned from that experience, is to focus less on attaining a specific role or title and to focus more on preparing myself to rise to any number of opportunities that may present themselves. I am looking forward to continuing to solve for the array of complex issues that face our industry as it relates to finding the best talent, and I especially hope to continue to be in a position to create opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds to gain increased exposure to the wealth of career opportunities within the Financial Services industry.

What would be your advice to young people who want their careers and lives to have an impact?

Along the way, my mentors at Morgan Stanley have passed along pearls of wisdom. Here are a few:

----Remember that every interaction with every person is a moment in which you enhance or detract from your personal brand - use those moments wisely.

----Take the time to develop authentic relationships with your colleagues and clients - a robust network provides the foundation for being a resourceful and impactful employee.

----Seek out role models (peers as well as senior colleagues) who embody excellence and leverage them to accelerate your learning curve.

----Learn to ask for, accept and leverage feedback. Think about developmental feedback as an opportunity to grow as a professional.

----Learn to be equally enthusiastic in your approach to opportunities that highlight you as a team player, as you are to those opportunities that highlight you as a leader.  You will be amazed at how often individuals known for being outstanding team players will emerge as impressive leaders over time.