S. Hirai

Managing Director, Technology

Tell us about your career path to your current role

I joined Morgan Stanley Japan in 2000 as part of the Technology Analyst Program after graduating from University. After the training program in New York, I returned to Japan to support the Equities and Fixed Income trading floors, doing mainly general trading, environment desktop and application support. Technology was becoming more complex, more applications were being built, and as such, there was a need for more specialized technology support functions.

In 2003, I was part of the first specialized support group focusing on Fixed Income and Currency (FX) applications, where we supported the applications used by sales and trading. I spent most of my days troubleshooting complex application problems, helping to roll out new applications, and focusing on making sure our technology was working.

I started working in a business initiative involving external technology integration in 2006. This was a fantastic experience. I learned new skills, met people outside the firm, and really acquired a different set of skills.

In 2008, it was time for another change, and I was asked to take on a larger management role in application support. While I had managed a small team before, this was an even bigger challenge. Over the subsequent years, I kept expanding my responsibilities across the Asia region and adding on more business lines of support, growing from Fixed Income and FX to adding Operations and Equity support areas.

By 2013, our support functions had become well established, and all application support functions were consolidated in a division within Technology. I was asked to become head of that division for Asia. This Quality Assurance and Production Management division has continued to grow, and continues to be challenged with new areas of consolidation of support and QA services.

What is the task, project or incident that you remember the most?

Obviously, it isn't just macroeconomic drivers or political news that can challenge the financial industry. Sometimes, it can even be the weather. In 2012, a large storm—Hurricane Sandy—hit the New York area, a region that is home to many of our offices and data centers underpinning our global infrastructure.

Our technology teams had to spring into action. We had to mobilize people in anticipation of transportation being affected, deal with various power issues, and ensure that our servers and applications were running smoothly. The whole event really reminded me that the financial industry is so dependent on global technology functions, and what a critical role technology plays in the global financial industry.

What motivates you to work?

Since I was a child, I have always loved puzzles. The fact that I can come to work and be presented with clues and problems that I can solve for a living is something that really motivates me. The complexity of both the financial industry and technology, and the pace at which both of these change, means that there are endless challenges to solve.

The global nature of Morgan Stanley also motivates me. I know that when I wake up in the morning, things will have changed overnight. There will be a new set of challenges to address, some news in the markets we need to address. There’s always a surprise in the morning. All of the problems we face are opportunities to learn new things. I especially like that I have been here for 17 years and have been able to learn something new every day. Secondly, we hire good, smart, talented people—working closely with such talented people all day makes coming to work truly enjoyable.

What do you like to do during your time outside of work (hobbies/interests)?

I have three children and a dog at home. A lot of my time outside work revolves around spending time with my family, going on walks, and playing sports. I get asked a lot about how I can have such a busy job yet spend time with the family. Actually, that is where technology has really helped in finding the right balance.

I work with a lot of people around the globe, so there are times when I need to make calls in the evening or early morning. With remote computing capabilities, I can still connect to the office remotely from home when needed, allowing me to be more efficient. Successfully balancing a career and a family has a lot of challenges, but it equally brings just as many rewards.

What would you say to a student who is job-hunting and/or is considering a career at Morgan Stanley?

Morgan Stanley is an environment with a lot of challenging and exciting opportunities. To stay on the competitive edge, we value even the newest employees' ideas and opinions, as these are often the seeds of innovation. Coming into this company, you will be expected to speak up about those ideas and make contributions from day one. Teamwork is also core to our culture, and there is a lot of support from the team and organization to help you succeed.

My advice would be to spend some time researching the company and use the interviews to ask lots of questions. It is really important to find a company that has the values that appeal to you, a culture you feel you can succeed in, and especially an environment where you can be yourself.

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