For 27 years Carla Harris has been a force on Wall Street. She is currently the Vice Chairman of Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley. She is graduate of Harvard with an undergraduate degree in Economics and an MBA. Over the course of her career she has taken a number of companies public, including “small” companies such as UPS (a $5.5 billion IPO in 1999) and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Fortune named her one of its 50 Most Powerful Black Executives in America in 2002. Appointed by President Obama she chairs the National Business Women’s Council. When she began her time at Harvard’s MBA program, she hadn’t had any exposure to Wall Street.
Harris hails from Jacksonville, Florida where her Mom brought her up with a mind to succeed with no excuses. One of her professors at Harvard told her to re-think her major of Economics. It didn’t stop her at all, she went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude in fact. Coupled with her professional experiences she authored the book “Expect to Win: 10 Proven Strategies for Thriving in the Workplace“. The key lesson in this book is exercising your voice. You need to be heard to have a seat at the table. If you aren’t speaking you can’t be heard. Another key piece of advice is to have sponsors. Sponsors are different from mentors. Sponsors are people in your space who have the influence to get things done for you. They are the people who speak for you when you’re not in the room. They are the ones banging their hands on the table to make sure you get a shot. Research confirms this piece of advice. Women and minorities tend to do much better professionally if they have sponsorship, regardless of the field, function or industry.
As if these accolades aren’t enough, Harris is an accomplished gospel singer. She has performed all over the world, including the famed Carnegie Hall and has recorded three albums. She uses her voice literally and figuratively to raise money for science, technology and math program in Harlem.
I had the honor of hearing her speak and sing when she was the keynote at my company’s event last winter. Hear from Carla Harris in her own words or visit www.carlaspearls.com.
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