Nikhil Damle

Tell us about your current role and designation at Morgan Stanley?

I am a vice-president in the corporate services division of Morgan Stanley. As Head of Corporate Information Management India, I am responsible for a group of functions in the information lifecycle associated with information discovery, presentation and output, distribution, storage and retention / destruction.

Describe a typical day at work.

I try to start the week with a shortlist of key deliverables for that week. On a typical day, I am in the office by 9:30 a.m. and attend meetings and receive calls interspersed throughout the day. During the day, I try to grab desk time so I can complete immediate action items from the day's meetings. I usually finish up anywhere between 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., but there are some times when it's later than that. During lunch, I catch up on current events or match scores at my desk or chat with colleagues, if there's company. In between, I try to spend 10 - 15 minutes walking the floor, talking to team members and getting an understanding of how work is going for the day.

Please share with us three things you like and dislike about your job.

I'd like to start by answering the second part ‚Äď there's not much to dislike at Morgan Stanley. In fact, it's turned out to be a dream company. As a student in the MBA course, I would wonder whether the kind of companies we hear of in case studies really exist. Morgan Stanley has matched up to almost everything I would have thought a company should have back then. You get to work in an open and vibrant environment. You are surrounded by smart people and the culture here advocates that people speak up and take ownership and allows employees to grow. What's not to like!

What are the two most important skills required to be successful in your particular field and how can an MBA student work toward it?

One needs to be willing to learn ‚Äď you learn new things every day. Also, early in your career, it's necessary to focus on doing a good job of what you're asked to do. That helps build trust and credibility with your managers and peers. It also helps to be business focused and try to develop understanding beyond the primary role or function. One needs to be able to understand a bit of law, finance, human resources, operations and technology, as these are critical components of doing business in any organisation.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I really don't know. I wouldn't have said I would have been where I am now five years ago. It's difficult to predict where one will be. There have been so many opportunities and changes in the world of business over the last couple of years ‚Äď and the dust has not yet settled.

Do you have a word of advice for KIAMS students?

Use the institute's resources (faculty, library, alumni network) to the fullest ‚Äď you can't go back and relive those two years, academically or otherwise. Recognise that what you have learnt will need to be used judiciously and appropriately over your professional lifetime. So, pace yourself and resist wanting to use everything at the start. By all means, voice your views, but be open to different perspectives. Don't take anything you get for granted ‚Äď value it. Remember that you are fortunate to have this exposure. There are many people in our country that still don't have access to primary education.

Describe an interesting incident during your student life which you would like to share with current students.

I cannot forget and always cherish the unique exams we used to have.

We had unannounced finance tests (all done online using FoxPro back in 1999) the announcement of which would be posted any random day on the notice board after dinner, so we had to study every day and be on our toes. One of my colleagues went to a movie after dinner and missed an exam!!

We had statistics tests where we were provided a solution to the problem which we would enter in the simulation program. On getting the output, our course instructor would ask us to change variables and explain the logic of why the output changed (one mark for knowing how to use the program and the formulae and four marks for understanding how to apply it).

We had a marketing exam where our course instructor said he could ask anything from Phillip Kotler in the exam, so everyone spent the night going "cover-to-cover". The exam on the next day had three case studies with five questions each for a three-hour exam. We were stumped! When someone naively asked the instructor why he'd tricked us, he laughed and said, "At least you read the book you paid for and I got to test you on whether you really are able to apply what you read!"

I could go on and on.