How Drew Hawkins Went From Intern to First Black Managing Director in Morgan Stanley’s Wealth Management Business

Hawkins details the keys to his success in corporate America

Drew Hawkins

Morgan Stanley executive Drew Hawkins

As a University of Delaware finance major, Drew Hawkins recognized his love for stock markets and investing early.

After stumbling into the university’s career planning office, Hawkins was informed of a two-year unpaid internship with Morgan Stanley, then known as Dean Witter. He came on board as an intern in 1989 and as the cliché saying goes, ‘the rest is history.’

“I can remember my first couple of weeks where I saw things that intrigued me and some I found disappointing,” said Hawkins. “Number one, I didn’t see many African American financial advisors and I didn’t see that many African American clients.”

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In an effort to change that dynamic, Hawkins worked his way up from intern, to financial advisor to eventually being named the first African American managing director in Morgan Stanley’s Wealth Management business in 2008. Now, as head of the company’s global sports and entertainment division, which has approximately $37 billion in assets, Hawkins opens up to BlackEnterprise.com about his journey to climbing the corporate ladder.

BlackEnterprise.com: Talk about your journey to climbing the ranks at Morgan Stanley.

Hawkins: My career started out as a financial advisor. I received a call from my regional director one day who said I want you to come into my office and take the assessment exam to consider going into management. While the thought of going into a management role where I give up my entrepreneurial hustle was not compelling, it was coming from someone I respected a lot and being in management gave me the opportunity to lead and bring others into the industry.

Are there any specific challenges you faced as an African American?

There are things that are unique with being a person of color in this industry. There were some [people] I could connect with from a management perspective and get sound advice, but still they could not speak to my experiences because they hadn’t walked in my shoes. I had the experience of being the first black managing director in Morgan Stanley’s Wealth Management business, and while I was excited to attain that title it was still a bit startling that in 2008 I was the first for that to occur. Fortunately, we’ve had a lot of others come in since then.

Looking back, what’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?

It was to a degree to be color blind. From the standpoint of being an advisor, your goal is to attain clients and do a great job for the people you work with, but there are plenty of times folks will look at you funny because what you sound like on the phone doesn’t look like you when you get there. It was always knowing to have confidence that I can do the job for the individuals I was pursuing and the clients.