Making A Difference

Don’t give up your power

Carla Harris (MBA 1987)

Author, singer, and Morgan Stanley vice chairman Carla Harris (MBA 1987) advises people—women in particular—to take lessons from mistakes and move on. In this interview she offers advice on respecting oneself and taking advantage of opportunities to have an impact at work.

“The thing that I would tell women to look out for in business is giving up their power. I think naturally as women we are self-reflective, and so therefore if we make a mistake, we tend to think about the fact that we’ve made a mistake and we think about the fact that we’ve made a mistake and we think about the fact that we’ve made a mistake, as opposed to taking the lesson from the mistake and then moving on.

“There have been many situations throughout my business career where I’m the only woman, and probably twice as many where I’m the only person of color. And it has never made me feel uncomfortable. I’ve always thought of it, personally, as an opportunity to impact and in some cases to educate.

“You should remember that if you’ve gotten the opportunity to be in that environment, they have chosen you because they think that you can, in fact, make rain. So make rain.

“Most places go through a very rigorous due-diligence process before they hire anyone, so there, I believe, are very few, if any, recruiting mistakes. So don’t give away your power, don’t second-guess yourself. Stand up with your head high. Own it every day that you choose to walk into your work environment. Because, after all, it is your choice to walk in there. So if you are going to choose to walk in there, choose to own all of who you are.”

Read the case study: “Carla Ann Harris at Morgan Stanley”

(Published March 2017)

SUPPORT THE NEXT GENERATION OF LEADERS