Morgan Stanley CFO Ruth Porat: How Wall Street Affects Main Street

 

 

 

While Morgan Stanley Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat was working with the Federal government to figure out AIG's bailout in 2008, she says that one of her biggest concerns was that a rapid collapse of the insurer could have profound implications for many, many other companies across the country. Small, medium and large companies could lose liquidity, and could find themselves unable to fund the kind of consistent growth that is vital to capitalism. She says that working through this crisis underscored for her how intertwined Wall Street and "Main Street" truly are.


In her Big Think interview, Porat says that she generally thinks of herself as an optimist, but that she's learned a lot from her years as an investment banker. "I started in August of 1987 only to see the market have one of the biggest crashes ever in October of ’87 and have seen a number of other cycles," she says.  "And after each one lessons are learned and I think that the pendulum often swings too far one way before it comes back the other way, but there is an important learning and growth opportunity that comes out of each one of these situations."

As one of the highest-ranking women on Wall Street, Porat says is concerned that there still aren't enough women rising through the ranks in finance. She says many women get sidetracked from careers in finance because they worry about problems with work/life balance, but notes that there are many roles a person can play within an investment bank—and the hours and travel requirements vary. Women who are interested, should take a closer look at the different drivers of the business, she says, because there's a chance something may fit. 

She admits that the first couple of years at a firm can be "very challenging" for someone starting out, and that it takes a lot of work to get up the curve to higher management positions. "But what is powerful about that is you're either opening doors to go and do so many different things, working with corporations, starting your own business or advancing in investment banking. So I would say think of it as almost a call option on the next part of your career."

On a more personal note, Porat also speaks about her experience battling breast cancer, saying that it's most important to first get as much information as you can about the disease from people who know about it—and then to remember to stay true to yourself through treatment.  For Porat, this meant continuing to work, even as she began chemotherapy: "For me, going to work meant that I was in control of my life," she says. "The disease did not define me. And so in many respects work was a really important part of me being healthy.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Apple, Amazon, and Uber are moving in on health care. Will it help?

Big tech is making its opening moves into the health care scene, but its focus on tech-savvy millennials may miss the mark.

Apple COO Jeff Williams discusses Apple Watch Series 4 during an event on September 12, 2018, in Cupertino, California. The watch lets users take electrocardiogram readings. (Photo: NOAH BERGER/AFP/Getty Images)
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Companies like Apple, Amazon, and Google have been busy investing in health care companies, developing new apps, and hiring health professionals for new business ventures.
  • Their current focus appears to be on tech-savvy millennials, but the bulk of health care expenditures goes to the elderly.
  • Big tech should look to integrating its most promising health care devise, the smartphone, more thoroughly into health care.
Keep reading Show less

Harvard: Men who can do 40 pushups have a 'significantly' lower risk of heart disease

Turns out pushups are more telling than treadmill tests when it comes to cardiovascular health.

Airman 1st Class Justin Baker completes another push-up during the First Sergeants' push-up a-thon June 28, 2011, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Participants were allowed 10 minutes to do as many push-ups as they could during the fundraiser. Airman Baker, a contract specialist assigned to the 354th Contracting Squadron, completed 278 push-ups. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Janine Thibault)
Surprising Science
  • Men who can perform 40 pushups in one minute are 96 percent less likely to have cardiovascular disease than those who do less than 10.
  • The Harvard study focused on over 1,100 firefighters with a median age of 39.
  • The exact results might not be applicable to men of other age groups or to women, researchers warn.
Keep reading Show less

The colossal problem with universal basic income

Here's why universal basic income will hurt the 99%, and make the 1% even richer.

Videos
  • Universal basic income is a band-aid solution that will not solve wealth inequality, says Rushkoff.
  • Funneling money to the 99% perpetuates their roles as consumers, pumping money straight back up to the 1% at the top of the pyramid.
  • Rushkoff suggests universal basic assets instead, so that the people at the bottom of the pyramid can own some means of production and participate in the profits of mega-rich companies.
Keep reading Show less