Morgan Stanley chairman and CEO discusses risk taking

Thursday's talk was part of the Wharton Leadership Lecture Series

· February 23, 2012, 9:23 pm   ·  Updated February 27, 2012, 12:33 am

Rida I Ayesha | DP

Chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley James Gorman speaks to students at a Wharton Leadership Lecture on Thursday evening. Gorman discussed his personal and professional experiences in the financial industry and answered questions by audience members.


Thursday evening, the line of students attempting to enter Huntsman Hall G06 seemed to go on forever.

But the students weren’t there to attend class. Yesterday, Chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley James Gorman visited Penn as part of the Wharton Leadership Lecture series.

Wharton Leadership Lectures give students an opportunity to gain insight into leadership issues and different career paths across a variety of industries.

Thursday’s lecture consisted of two halves, with Gorman sharing his personal and professional experiences in the financial industry in the first half and the audience asking questions in the second half.

Although Gorman focused on topics like the 2008 financial crisis, the ways Morgan Stanley responded to the crisis and the current economic state in Europe, he also offered several pieces of advice to students on how to succeed in life after Penn.

“In life, don’t overanalyze everything,” he said. “You have to take some calculated risks; you have to step back and think about what matters in the long term.”

Additionally, Gorman addressed the inevitability of making mistakes and the importance of not dwelling on them.

“Be confident about making mistakes and move on,” he said. “Don’t keep holding yourself from making bad decisions. If you get 80 percent of your decisions right, you’re doing well.”

Wharton and College senior Joseph Percoco said he took a lot away from hearing a high-profile business executive speak in person.

“Oftentimes, there’s a disconnect between what you read in the press and what you hear from the leaders themselves,” he said. “It was interesting to see what a CEO is like, because they kind of have an air of mystery around them.”

Percoco, who will be working in the financial industry after he graduates, added that this particular lecture was especially useful to him in terms of receiving advice.

“As a senior who is heading toward the investment banking industry, being able to hear from one of the leaders of Wall Street himself was great,” he said, explaining how Gorman provided good insight for everyone in the audience about the future outlook of the financial industry.

Some students were more interested in Gorman’s personal life rather than his professional one.

“I was much more curious about his background more than anything else,” second-year Wharton MBA student Jose Choucaira said.

Wharton freshman Neel Koyawala added that “it was great to have the chance to see one of the leaders in business talk about his experiences,” and that he “especially liked his humorous personality and how he could relate to the audience.”

For Choucaira, the entire lecture series “opens your mind career-wise. You meet people who may be more accepting to different backgrounds and diversity.”

Even though Koyawala enjoyed Thursday’s lecture, he offered one suggestion for Wharton Leadership Lectures for the future.

“If they gave you a little handout with some background information of Morgan Stanley and James Gorman as you entered the door, I think that would have been helpful,” he said.

Overall, Koyawala said, the lecture series is one way for students to “take advantage of things outside of classes and really be inspired by other leaders.”

Comments powered by Disqus