Mentor women after maternity leave, says Morgan Stanley boss

Fri Mar 7, 2014 1:47pm EST
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By Anjuli Davies and Sophie Sassard

LONDON (Reuters) - For top Morgan Stanley financier Cecile Houlot-Hillary, every day brings pressure in the form of complex bond deals, intense competition and demands from high level clients.

But, says the 17 year veteran of investment banking, the most challenging part of her career so far has been navigating her three spells of maternity leave.

"It was clearly the crunch point - coming back and making sure I was still on track and nothing was going to stop me."

Her successful return to work was largely down to the support of her managers, says French-born Houlot-Hillary, who believes such coaching is key for banks and their female employees.

The 39-year-old, co-head of debt capital markets for financial firms at Morgan Stanley, is now a key player in the bank's diversity program, which includes coaching for women returning to work after having children.

"Whether you call them mentors or sponsors, I think it's helpful to get independent advice from senior people, helpful to bounce ideas off someone else, it's helpful to have someone senior who looks out for you," she says.

"It seems simple and obvious but it is very important to have these processes."


Babies lie in cots at a maternity ward in Singapore March 29, 2007. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash