Kara Underwood | The 2022 MAKERS Conference

Kara Underwood at the 2022 MAKERS Conference

Video Transcript

- Please welcome Kara Underwood.




KARA UNDERWOOD: Imagine for a moment, you're in the halls of a Wall Street firm. I'm curious about what you see, maybe a lot of suits, maybe pinstripes, some shiny shoes, maybe some dark paneled wood on the walls. In your vision, did you see any women?

I work on Wall Street. If you could step inside the four walls of my firm, Morgan Stanley, you might be surprised. We're there and we're there in force.

- Yeah.


KARA UNDERWOOD: The relationships women have with each other, the support they give each other to stretch and to grow, the power of our voices are everywhere, up, down, and across the organization. We at Morgan Stanley are also not shy about celebrating those very women who make us as strong and as unique as we are. And that's why our partnership with MAKERS has thrived.

Back in 2012, my colleague and dear friend, Ellen Bailey, introduced me to the MAKERS platform and its dynamic founder, the great, Dyllan McGee.


Ellen and Dyllan were great friends and saw an opportunity to collaborate and build on Dyllan's MAKER's platform with the establishment of a corporate partners program. It was the very definition of a win-win. It would enhance and extend Dyllan's vision for MAKERS and provide Morgan Stanley with fresh perspective on its diversity initiatives.

So together, Ellen and I plotted and planned. And we determined that Morgan Stanley would be the founding corporate partner of MAKER's.



In my role at Morgan Stanley, I have a seat at the table. And at that leadership table, our idea for MAKERS had early adoption. Our senior leaders were excited and they were ready to go. But like any corporate decision, I needed to get some buy in, which brings me to a quick story.

I was socializing the MAKERS concept with a group of middle managers. Picture 45 people sitting around a square table in a conference room. And I'm item number four of a seven-item agenda in a two hour meeting. I'm summoned into the room at the appropriate time. And I launch into my pitch. And, ladies, I was really good at the pitch.


But despite that, I couldn't help but notice I was losing some folks to their phones. So I go on full-on sell mode. I'm amped up now. I'm gonna bring them back. And I said, MAKERS showcases the stories of women who are household names, like Oprah Winfrey and Gloria Steinem, as well as those who are lesser known, like Kathryn Switzer.

She was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. Which, by the way, did you know women weren't allowed to run marathons until 1972? Do you know why? Because they thought their uteruses would fall out.


At that point, every, every face in the room shot back up. I had their undivided attention.


And I won their commitment. That's what MAKERS does. It captures attention. But it does so much more. It inspires. It informs and educates. It gives us hope and reminds us that we are not alone. It galvanizes women to support women and to take actions that move us all forward.

In this room are 15 of the 20 MAKERS that we named to our MAKER's 2022 class. And back home, my team is reading through the nearly 1,000 nominations that we garnered this year for our 2023 class. There are three reasons, not four, three--


--three reasons why MAKERS has become an important and beloved tradition at Morgan Stanley. First, all employees are eligible to be named a MAKER. Every fall, we invite our colleagues to nominate women who serve as groundbreakers, innovators, and advocates. And our MAKERS classes are made up of women throughout the organization, from the C-suite to the front lines in our branch offices around the country. we recognize that everyone contributes to this movement.

Second, our senior leaders are invested. Our co-president, Andy Saperstein, has been at the table with us each year. It takes time and determination to go through that sh-- to get to a short list. And we have passionate conversations about the talents and the impacts of the women who are nominated, before we land on that final class list. Think of the power in that process. These women's names and their stories are spoken of with care, determination, respect, and precision. That is a powerful kind of sponsorship.

And finally, we give them the full MAKERS treatment, featuring them in videos and amplifying their stories both inside and outside the firm. And every year, our senior leaders host a Meet the MAKERS town hall to introduce these women to the firm. Thousands of our colleagues get a front row seat to these women's career trajectories, which is often nowhere near as linear as most people assume.

Our MAKERS are really honest about the challenges and the risks that they've taken along the way. And the energy is so palpable. You see it on the stage and you feel it in the room, just like I'm feeling it right now.

So for Morgan Stanley, MAKERS goes far beyond a storytelling tool. It is an important retention and business development tool for our talent. It helps drive one of our primary goals, ensure that we are the firm of choice for women. So I invite you, seek out the MAKERS at Morgan Stanley who are here, spend time getting to know these remarkable women who are making waves on Wall Street and inspiring the folks around them to work to create spaces that are where women can thrive. Let us show you the real Wall Street for women.

Now, as we wrap the makers nomination process each year, someone will inevitably ask me, how long do you think we're gonna keep doing this? At some point, don't you think we're gonna run out of MAKERS?


At Morgan Stanley, we have exceptional women who are breaking glass and smashing through glass ceilings every day. As long as women are advancing our business, serving our clients, and making our future, we will continue to mark their place in our history as MAKERS. Thank you.