Prominent senior executives from across Morgan Stanley’s legal and compliance division came to Fordham Law for a panel event on January 30 to speak about the professional and personal qualities essential to thriving in a leadership role.
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Joseph Landau introduced the event and thanked the panelists—all Fordham alumni—for participating.
“We’re extremely proud of the Morgan Stanley/Fordham relationship, which is very strong and truly special—with hundreds of alums working at Morgan Stanley, from both the Gabelli School of Business and, of course, the Law School.” Landau continued, “We are very grateful to have all of you back at Fordham to share your words of wisdom with us. It means a tremendous amount.”
The panel was preceded by a video message by Eric Grossman ’93, Morgan Stanley’s chief legal officer and chief administrative officer, who also serves on the Law School’s Dean’s Planning Council. In the video, Grossman touched on some of the key questions of the night, including why leadership matters, and what skill sets lawyers bring to corporate leadership roles.
“You are meant to be the one in the room that calms everybody down,” said Grossman. “How do you do that? In part, it’s by applying the reasoning and logic skills that you learn at law school, bringing them to bear on whatever the problem is.”
Another important skill for leaders, said Grossman, was one he learned while at Fordham: humility. “That pays enormous amounts of dividends when you’re in a big organization that’s under stress,” he said.
The panel event was moderated by Jason Lynch ’10, executive director in the legal and compliance division at Morgan Stanley, and was made up of four other Fordham Law alumni now in leadership positions at the company.
They included Chip Denkovic ’99, executive director in the HR and benefits legal group at Morgan Stanley; Monique Lapointe ’92, managing director in the wealth management compliance team; Rob O’Connor ’93, managing director in the institutional securities legal group; and Jacqueline LiCalzi ’88, managing director and global head of regulatory relations.
Each panelist had a unique story to share about their career journey—with Denkovic working as an overnight EMT and Lapointe as a social services caseworker—before their corporate and legal careers began, and each provided actionable advice to students who might also be looking to begin a similar path.
Ultimately, said O’Connor, the key to leadership lies in cultivating relationships with other people. “Our biggest resource goes up and down the elevators every day,” he said. “You need to focus on your people, you need to know your people, what motivates them, and help them achieve their best. That, I think, is how you become a good leader.”