Why Morgan Stanley Banker Seeks Female Role Models - Nina Godiwalla

In Chapter 14 of 14 in her 2010 Capture Your Flag interview, ex-Morgan Stanley investment banker and author Nina Godiwalla answers "How have female role models and mentors given you strength and support on your journey to date?" Godiwalla shares why female role models are so critical in building a corporate finance career.  Godiwalla faces challenges and seeks counsel in mid-to-senior level female bankers who make themselves available to support more junior peers.  Godiwalla goes on to found a Morgan Stanley Women's Committee to help those needing guidance and support.

Nina Godiwalla is the author of "Suits: A Woman on Wall Street" and the founder and CEO of Mindworks, a provider of leadership, stress management, and diversity training programs. Before starting her business and writing her book, Godiwalla worked at Johnson & Johnson and Oxygen Media and investment banking at Morgan Stanley. Godiwalla earned an MBA from Wharton, a MA from Dartmouth and a BBA from the University of Texas.


Erik Michielsen: How have female role models and mentors given you strength and support on your journey to date?

Nina Godiwalla: I’ve lived in different cities, I’ve been in different countries… there are moments in my life where I am very, very aware that I am a woman and one of the most striking examples is when I was in investment banking and I didn’t have this awareness of being, usually it’s like, there’s different things that stand out depending on what environment you’re in and for me I was in a group, I was the only woman in my group for a while while I was in investment banking and it’s just a completely different culture that I wasn’t very familiar with. That was one of the times in life I realized I really need -- I need somebody that’s done this, I need a woman around me to help me kind of navigate the system. And I would say before that in life I hadn’t necessarily, I was not seeking out woman mentors and when I was at college getting a finance degree at UT, I wasn’t -- there wasn’t an attitude of ‘Here, let me find other women’.

But being thrown into that environment that was so different suddenly I really desperately, quite desperately sought, really sought other women and what was interesting to me about the investment banking world is there were definitely -- the women that had been there, there were so few that had been there for a very, very long time but I found that there was very different perspectives with women, some people were ‘Yes, let me help you, let me… let me help you, how can we do this, what is it that you -- how can we work, how can I be your mentor’ and then there were other people of ‘You’ve got to rough it out, this is what it is and we don’t need to talk about the things that are happening and if this isn’t working for you just keep pushing through, put your head down, keep pushing through’ and I obviously I gravitated towards people that is actually something that I want to discuss and talk about different things and I couldn’t have made it through in a lot of ways without those mentors.

The experience I had was in corporate finance which was a kind of experience where it’s a little notorious for keeping you working all the time and you don’t really necessarily have that time to reflect and think about things. I started a Morgan Stanley women’s committee because I found people were looking for some guidance and they just had no idea where to go. Because they would look to the people about a year ahead of them and those people, there was an analyst program and those people were so busy and then the senior women were just, they were so senior that and there were so few of them that you just wouldn’t go call one of them up and say ‘Hey I had a bad day today can I talk to you?’ So it was really kind of bringing a group of women together is what I started because I found that was the way people were going to help get through, cause a lot of women would start coming to me with their issues and this was happening and this kind of stuff was happening and so I thought why don’t we bring this group together.