Marilyn Booker

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

I am the Global Head of Diversity & Work-Life at Morgan Stanley.  My team and I am responsible for working with the Business Units to set the strategic direction of our diversity and work-life programs and to ensure integration of diversity initiatives into the Firm's business.  Before joining Morgan Stanley, I was a consultant at a boutique firm in Chicago, where my areas of practice were minority business development and human resources diversity.  Prior to that, for several years I practiced law in Chicago in the following areas: criminal defense, municipal finance and corporate bankruptcies and restructurings.

What has been your biggest accomplishment to date?

My greatest accomplishment and source of pride are my three wonderful children.  Once I get beyond my children who are my beginning, middle and end, I am very proud of the diversity programs that my team and I have implemented at Morgan Stanley over the years and the positive effect that we have had on the careers of many professionals at Morgan Stanley.

Why do you love what you do?

Very early in my professional career, I made the decision that regardless of the job I had, it had to be one where I helped people, made a difference and actually had an impact.  Everyday when I come to work, I take comfort in knowing that when I leave at the end of the day, someone's professional life will be positively impacted by what I do and my dedication to trying to ensure that everyone has that level playing field from which to operate.  I love just making a difference.

What is your strongest characteristic and how does it assist you in your career?

My strongest characteristic is my integrity.  Tell the truth, tell the truth and then tell the truth again.  I have always been honest and objective in how I live my life and do my job regardless of how politically incorrect the positions I take may be.  People might not always agree with me but the one thing they can count on is that I will always do what I believe is the right thing regardless of the head winds that I may encounter in that process.

Describe three lessons you have learned during your career?

Lesson #1 - Be honest at all costs.  It is very difficult to recover from losing your credibility and integrity.  You want to be the person who others trust implicitly and can rely on your consistency in just telling it like it is.

Lesson #2 - Exercise impeccable judgment.  Do not allow your decisions to be swayed by popular opinion.  Many times in organizations, people will follow the lead of the masses.  Do not allow that to happen.  Be rational in your approach, weigh "all" sides of any situation and make decisions that are ultimately in the best interest of all parties involved.

Lesson #3 - Do not allow others to kill your spirit.  Over the course of anyone's career, there will be detractors.  Don't allow those negative people to make you believe that there are certain things you cannot do.  Be confident in your abilities and whenever someone tells you there is something you cannot do, develop even more resolve to do it, do it well and prove them wrong.
And, although you didn't ask for a 4th lesson, I have to add this one - have fun!!  Life is too short - it is not a dress rehearsal, there are no do-overs.  Once you stop having fun and enjoying what you do, it is truly time to move on.

What do you do in your free time?

I spend as much of my free time as I can with my three children.  I am also an avid golfer, tennis player, piano player and bowler.  Fortunately for me, my children share a similar passion for the things I like to do in my free time so this makes for a lot of fun times.