Will Ruth Porat, Morgan Stanley's CFO, Rise to the Top?

by Derek Loosvelt | November 10, 2010

Perhaps the most powerful woman working on Wall Street today, Ruth Porat took a roundabout route to her current role as Morgan Stanley CFO.

As Dealbook points out, she joined Morgan Stanley in 1987 as a technology banker and jumped ship to Smith Barney with Bob Greenhill six years later but soon realized making money the old fashioned way wasn't for her, writing as much in her 2009 book entitled How Remarkable Women Lead: “Oh my God, I’ve completely messed up my career. I want to go back and I won’t have that option.”

Three years later, Porat did get a chance to go back, but had to take a demotion to do it, landing in London as the head of Morgan Stanley's technology unit where she ended up underwriting a few of the dot-com era's monstrous IPOs, including Amazon's as well as Priceline's. After the tech bubble blew, Porat worked with blue-chip companies and, in 2006, became the head of the bank's FIG group. Her biggest deals as head of that unit were taking the private equity giant Blackstone public and advising the U.S. Treasury on its acquisition of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In January 2009, she was named Morgan Stanley CFO.

Today, Porat is the sole female chief financial officer on Wall Street. Erin Callan, the former CFO of the former Lehman Brothers, is currently (and famously) hanging out in the Hamptons while being investigated by regulators, and Sallie Krawcheck, who was sacked as Citi CFO by Citi's CEO Vikram "The One Dollar" Pandit, now works as the head of BofA's global wealth and investment management unit.

Of course, the multi-million-dollar question is will Porat end up like one of these two women and Zoe Cruz (the former co-president of Morgan Stanley who was infamously thrown under the bus by former Morgan Stanley CEO Johnny Mack "The Knife") and forced out of the C-suite before being hailed as the chief? That is, will Porat be The One (the first female CEO of a major investment bank) or will the men in blue and gray stripes stop her before she rises to the top of the org chart?

Filed Under: Finance


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