1.Tell us about yourself (include your title and company name).

My name is Praveen Choudhary and I am an equity research analyst and Managing Director at Morgan Stanley. I was born and brought up in India where I got my engineering and MBA degree before moving to Singapore for my first job. I moved to Hong Kong in 2008 with Morgan Stanley and have been enjoying four seasons, typhoons, hikes and junks since then. 

2. What motivates you to be an ally in the financial services industry?

It is proven beyond doubt that diversity is good for business. The fact that in most industries the top management roles are still heavily occupied by men, is a opportunity for all. But my motivation is more personal. I grew up in a patriarchal society and assumed many things to be fair or right when they were not. The process of self discovery and awareness resulted in me attending various seminars and reading tens of books on the topic. Yet, finding the safe space at The Women’s Foundation Male Allies program (run by Aline and Kate) allowed me to explore and better understand my own social identity, and identify my unconscious biases andultimately expand my network of like-minded people making the whole world a little bit better – I am very thankful to Fiona and the team for this. While the discussion around social identity can feel overwhelming at times but when approached in modules, it resembles the adage: How do you eat an elephant – “one bite at a time”.

3. In reflection, how would having a diverse team or diverse colleagues lead to an increased success?

Every individual is different. Stereotyping is one kind of unconscious bias that we need to be aware of. Although, there are all kinds of people in finance, I could say that the women that I have encountered have been more detailed oriented, thoughtful and more risk aware. These are qualities that have been complementary to others in the team and add diversity, resulting in better outcomes.  

4. Please provide an example of how being an ally helped to unlock the power of diversity within your team or your organization?

I find that diversity of opinion and experiences drive better outcomes. In research, we publish our opinions on market direction. Having diverse team members see the same situation from different angles helps our analysis be thorough, more nuanced, andultimately more thought provoking. Team diversity has also helped us to expand our client network. 

5. Mentors play an important role in the development of the careers of women. Have you or are you mentoring a woman in finance? Please tell us about your experience.

At Morgan Stanley, we have a formal mentorship program where senior professionals get assigned mentees. I have had the opportunity to mentor a number of women over the years. 

The first thing you learn about is their different perspectives as well as about the challenges they face. Second, you learn more about areas of their functional expertise. It becomes a two-way street and this experience has helped me broaden my knowledge base.  Third, it helps your leadership and management skills. 

6. What advice or guidance would you provide men so they can become an ally? What can they do better to support their female colleagues professionally?

One should start with acknowledging the fact that we all have unconscious biases. Being aware of our own privileges and unique social identity is next. The ability to listen and learn is also something we should work on. Finally, mentoring and removing road blocks in front of our colleagues should be our action-oriented goal. Finding a safe space to connect with other male allies to further a conversation and explore what more can be done has also been hugely valuable to me.

7. What will be your 2021 mantra to keep you motivated, either professionally or personally?

2021 left us so quickly. It was 2020 all over again with travel restrictions and WFH (work from home). I enjoyed 2021 as I got to spend more time with my family instead of traveling. I have added morning pranayama (breathing exercise and meditation), evening tennis and reading books to my routine in the last couple of years and I am hoping to continue to balance these activities even in 2022. I also wish to travel back to India to see my mom, who has been sick lately.