Lessons from a Wall Street Woman’s Memoir

Suits: A Woman on Wall Street, which has been touted as The Devil Wears Prada of investment banking is about author Nina Godiwalla’s experience at Morgan Stanley during the dot-com bubble. It is written from an outsider’s perspective—woman, Texan, and second-generation Indian immigrant. It recently launched and it has already been chosen by USA Today as a top pick, and FORTUNE CNN Money called it a “must read.”

Godiwalla wrote the book because, after starting an investment banking career straight out of college, she was surprised by the challenges she faced. “I was more challenged by the corporate culture than I was by the finance,” she said. Godiwalla now travels around the country and speaks in institutions about women and leadership, as well as diversity in the workplace.

Godiwalla has spoken at at a wide range of venues including universities, corporations and cultural councils, including 85 Broads. She has agreed to share a couple of things she heard several women say, in hindsight, they wished they did more of:
*The more you like the people you work with, the more likely you will be to succeed. It’s nothing new, succeeding is about aligning yourself with the right people and working hard. When you enjoy being around your colleagues, it feels less like “networking.” So when you’re in your senior year debating between two jobs, don’t focus on a minor salary differential. Think about what environment you’d be happier in. You’re more likely to be a success there.

*Do it! When I start a new job, I make one-on-one meetings with several people who aren’t on my team, who I met through the recruiting process. Some are strategic and some are just those who I liked meeting during the process. Later in your job, when things get busy and you really need help or advice, you’ll already have a list of people you can go to. Most of the corporate world is not as objective as school where you have grades. Often, perception is more important than reality. So managing what others think of you is just as important as doing a good job. If you’re going into an industry with few women, you’re more likely to have to prove yourself. Don’t just do a good job; make sure others are aware you did a great job!

*Do it! Keep a weekly log of major projects you’ve worked on and periodically (maybe monthly) send your manager status updates and be sure to highlight your great wins. Ex: “convinced sales department to launch new product.” That way your manager remembers what you did do well. In general, it’s critical to keep a log of what you’ve accomplished. Many organizations ask you to write a self-evaluation and you won’t remember all the positive things at the end of the year. Many women don’t like to “brag,” but this is the time to do so. If they see you don’t value your work, they may not either.

If you’re interested in learning more about the investment banking culture, you can find out more about Suits: A Woman on Wall Street at www.ninagodiwalla.com.

by Tanya, Wall Street Services Reporter