Malavika Shanker, Head of Asia Listed Derivatives Execution & Platform Sales, Morgan Stanley, shares with WiFA who she admires, how she promotes diversity and gender equality, her experience with mentors, and much more.

Tell us about your background and the journey to your current position and organization, did anyone inspire you?

I currently run the Asia listed derivatives execution business & platform sales teams at Morgan Stanley, Hong Kong. I am Indian and have now lived more of my life in East Asia than I have in India so I’m fortunate enough to call Singapore, Hong Kong & India home in different ways. I’ve been with the firm for 2.5 years, and have done three different roles in that time period. I’m lucky to work for great leaders who are willing to bet on me growing into diverse roles & learning different businesses. That thread runs across my career journey as I’ve done a variety of roles across Finance, COO, Product Development, Sales and Distribution in multiple business lines and within different organizations. I’m inspired by people who are driven by a desire to learn and excel and those who are empathetic in the way they engage with others. I’m blessed to be surrounded by family, friends, colleagues, mentors, and managers who fit that description.

Please tell us how you or someone in your life that you admire provided hope or healing to the family or community.

I admire my grandmother in this regard. My earliest memories are of her disturbing my blissful slumber at 5 AM a few times a week as she prepared to head to the community orphanage to volunteer for their morning shift. She reminds me that healing and hope is felt, given, and received in small and big ways. From truly treating everyone as equals and with respect, regardless of age, background or social standing to crowdfunding many a kid’s tuition through her network to the hundreds of hours she has spent in service of others – her formidable zest to contribute to the community is admirable.

Mentors play an important role in the developments of many careers. If you have/had a mentor, what is the one take away message or inspiration that he/she passed on to you?

I’ve had formal and informal mentors and have found these relationships to be invaluable. One message that a number of them have reiterated is to “Do the right thing.” I’ve found that to act with integrity, consistently, builds trust and facilitates healthy and productive relationships in a professional context and in life. The journey for me has been and continues to be on arriving at that “right thing” in situations that are nuanced and/or complex. Having great mentors, friends, and colleagues who are ‘thinking partners’ and learning from experiences and failures, I’ve found to be very helpful in this regard. To be known as someone who acts with integrity is important to me.

How do you promote diversity and gender equality in your own life and workplace?

I manage a diverse set of individuals across 5 different Asian locations and expend time and effort to build an inclusive culture within the team which I strongly believe is necessary for success. Morgan Stanley has afforded me a number of opportunities to be involved in fostering a culture of inclusion and promoting diversity for which I am grateful. I was a part of the firm’s first cohort of the TWF’s Male Allies program and was the female ally to this group. I am also part of the Equity Division’s Diversity and Inclusion Council — I lead and contribute to initiatives to promote diversity & inclusion. Examples include revamping our graduate recruitment efforts and launching our new mentoring program with a specific focus on inclusiveness. I also enjoy informally mentoring women on our trading floor and find these conversations extremely insightful.