Take away everything Carla Harris has accomplished in her career at Morgan Stanley and you would still have an extraordinary resume: gospel singer, much sought-after lecturer, newly-minted author, and director on the boards of eight non-profit organizations.
Harris, who has somehow squeezed those activities into a calendar that also includes her responsibilities as managing director for Morgan Stanley's Investment Management business clearly is someone who understands how to stay focused-and sane - amid a multitude of claims on her time and attention. And if the past year brought tumult, Harris says, it also represented the challenge and experience that future leaders in the industry will draw on for many years to come.
"This was a great market for testing your leadership mettle because it was ripe with uncertainty and volatility, and if you're a leader the most important thing you can do is stay focused and keep your team focused," she says. "Whenever you have this kind of chaos, you have to remind yourself: Chaos breeds opportunity."
Harris says her recent efforts have been aimed at building stronger relationships with some of the firm's largest public and corporate pension plan clients. In past years she has helped to execute some very high-profile initial public offerings, including those of UPS, Martha Stewart Omnimedia, Digitas, and Redback.
It should come as no surprise that there are also some new initiatives in the works. Harris has been busy developing a fund that will identify, seed, and invest in "emerging managers," investment professionals that Morgan Stanley has identified for their future potential. Details are still limited, but Harris says she hopes to get the platform up and running in the coming months.
Off Wall Street, Harris is looking forward to the release of her third album of gospel music, to be released in a month or two. She will also keep on the lecture circuit and promote her book, "Expect to Win: Proven Strategies for Success from a Wall Street Vet."
How does she manage her time? "I'm aggressive about my weekends and evenings," she says with a laugh.