Tag Archives: morgan stanley

They love me, they really love me

Today was my last day at Morgan Stanley. It had an auspicious start when I arrived at work and noticed I wasn’t wearing a shirt. I had a white undershirt on, but no dress shirt. Not sure how I forgot that this morning. So, I’ve spent the day wearing my red fleece.

The guys took me out for lunch, and then afterwards presented me with a card and a gift. The card had some hilarious comments, mostly in reference to my Christmas party antics: “Good Luck with the moose hunting”, “I wish I could have seen you on the tube after the Xmas party”, “I’m definitely going to spread your warm-hearted post-party story”, “thanks for your help and drunken antics”, and “who’s the hotty?”. Wow. I put in all that hard work all term, only to be remebered by my behaviour on one night.

As for the gift, I expected something like chocolates. But I got a 2 GB IPod Nano! Hot damn! I couldn’t believe it. I’m still a bit stunned. I got an Outstanding on my work term evaluation too (although it doesn’t matter anymore).

The work term has been pretty good. Obviously outside of work I had a good time. London is an amazing place. But even the work was good. There was a slow bit in the middle, but the past month has been espeically fun and challenging. I’ve been working a green-field project with a small team, which has been really interesting. I enjoy projects that allow for some design work and aren’t constricted by crappy code written by other programmers.

Coding hung over is no fun

It’s a pretty quiet day in the office today with a lot of shattered looking faces. It’s especially striking in contrast to the utter mayhem that went on yesterday. As a summary, I chatted up some gorgeous ladies, made £15, and partied (and drank) for 12 hours. This morning I’m already on my fifth glass of water and I the smell of puke won’t leave my nose.

Why all the festivities? Yesterday was Comp Day and the Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Christmas Party. Compensation Day is a big deal at Morgan Stanley (as it is at most investment banks). It’s the day everyone gets their Christmas bonus, and the bonuses can be huge. Traders who have a good year get bonuses several times larger than their actual salary. “[In London] up to 3,000 bankers and brokers are expected to pocket at least £1m each. And there are reports that two Goldman Sachs bankers will be receive £10m each.” Because IT doesn’t have a direct an impact on profits, the bonuses aren’t that big for the nerds. But bonuses the same size as your salary aren’t uncommon.

So all morning my co-workers were called into meetings and handed their bonus. At noon, bottles of champagne were uncorked, promotions were announced, and the celebrations began. After the champagne we went to a bar and Alex (newly promoted VP in our team) opened a tab. The bars in Canary Wharf were all packed, including the patio areas (luckily it was unseasonably warm). At 4:30 we moved to Julian’s place and played poker. I won one big hand, after going all in with a full House with jacks and aces, and ended up winning £15 – I was down £15 at the time.

After poker, we jumped on the tube and went down to Piccadilly Circus for our Christmas Party at Trocadero. There were 3000 MS employees there spread over 3 floors. They had cool escalators with neon lights connecting things. It was a pretty good party. Copious amounts of alcohol, a professional dance performance that looked like a mix of Stomp and Flashdance, lots of dancing, a surprising amount of good looking birds, bumper cars (I didn’t go on), chocolate fountains, and reasonable food (the vegetarian options were lacking, but it was filling).

I was buzzed pretty early (after a few glasses of champagne and wine) and had a blast all night. The best part was when Dave, Chris (new grad), and I went out on the pull. It was all very improvised, but we were great wingmen. I used my antlers to start conversations with the ladies, Dave would jump in with his alien like antenae, and then we woudld bring Chris in. It worked surprisingly well (or else I was too drunk to notice any negative reactions). The first girl I saw smiled when she saw my antlers, so I asked her if she liked them. Then as we started chatting we got her friend to take a picture of her with us three. Than we noticed that her 3 friends were even hotter! We chatted for a bit, and then Dave said we should move on. As Dave and I walked away we noticed Chris was still chatting (Man Down!). At that point we really couldn’t go back for him, and had to wait patiently until he got the name of the girl (and he even remembered it today). From that point on we only had limited success. Although at one point Dave started chatting to this girl he knew, and I kept shouting – “Dave, who’s the hottie? Introduce us to your friend!”. Then I later found out she works in HR and is in charge of hiring new grads, and is the person Dave was going to talk to about getting me an interview for full time work. Whoops.

At some point I got split up with my wingmen and had to fly solo for a bit. I ended up on the dance floor dancing with some really young ladies that I have never seen before. The best part of the party was 99% of the people I’ve never seen before, and since I’m leaving in a week, I will probably never see them again (unless I get a full time job here).

At midnight, I left to catch the last tube home. I was pretty buzzed, but had enough sense to figure out what tubes I needed to get on. Warning: Graphic Description of Vomit

Computer: Earl Grey…Hot

Fish & ChipsI’m not a big caffeine drinker – I avoid coffee and coke. Some of you will remember the twitching that accompanied my first (and only) latte I drank Seattle. But I’ve found the need to resort to drinking tea to make it through some of my more knackered days here in London.

I’ve found that a cup of Earl Grey tea really helps to get me through the afternoon. Especially about an hour after lunch when my energy levels plummet. Friday’s are the worst. Not because of any lack of sleep on Thursday nights, but because of the heavy fish and chips lunch with baked beans and mushy peas (Mmmmm!). The cafeteria here at work serves a great fish and chips lunch for £3 on Fridays.

It’s quite embarrassing when my forehead keeps banging on my keyboard, so I’ve resorted to drinking tea. I’d much prefer to take a nice siesta, but it’s not the English way. Maybe I’ll try to get a job in Spain next time.


Although it’s only been like 4 months since I last went, I almost forgot how much fun bowling was. Last night I went to a Morgan Stanley bowling social event. And it was a blast!

My co-workers had two teams and adjoining alleys, and we spent the night taunting each other, screaming, and drinking pitchers of Carling. My voice was really hoarse from all the screaming. Everytime I got a strike I would scream and make body builder poses. The guys had a good chuckle about it when I came in this morning. I bowled ok. Not my best games (108 and 141), but I had the highest aggregate score between the 12 of us.

I’m not sure why, but the event had a Christmas theme (isn’t it a bit early?). We got noise makers and funky hats. Some teams got Santa hats, we got reindeer ears. Very cool.

After bowling everyone jumped on the tube to go home. We had a good time acting like drunken yobs, making noise, and wearing our reindeer hats. I found it amazing to find out that even though everyone I work with gets paid really well, and some have families with kids, no one has cars. That’s unheard of! The closest they get to driving is the games in the arcade.
MS Bowling Trip  Race Car Driving  Strike!  Party Animal

Poker Night

Went out with the guys from work again for a poker night yesterday. We went to an upscale pub near work and had a big meal and played poker in a private room in the back. It was really cool. Our group’s manager and his manager were both in London from New York, so they came along and expensed the meal and all the drinks. There were 10 amateur players, so there were a lot of people playing hands and pots averaged around £20. I played smart all night, limited my alcohol intake, and managed to finish the night up £25 (that’s like $60!). I wasn’t the biggest winner, but I was the only one that was consistently up all night. A few more nights like that and I can buy a new digital camera.

The guys gave me a hard time for winning so much. It was really funny because the too big cheeses from New York lost their shirts, while the intern kept taking their money. Dennis joked that maybe now they’ll see me buying lunch instead of packing one every day – but I still like packing my lunch (but maybe not today because I’m running late).

Not so great week

A quick update on the week that was.

Monday: Miles birthday. Celebrated with chardonnay and Super Size Me.
Tuesday: Poker Night with the guys from work. I broke even for the night. (Alex lost £50! – I wasn’t planning on rebuying if I lost my initial £10)
Wednesday: BUNAC Pub Night. Met a whack of Canadians and Americans who are in London on work visas.
Thursday: Chairman’s Party at work. Free food and drinks. Interesting note: All Morgan Stanley employees are under 35, except the chairman (who’s old). I was told burn-out causes people to leave after 10 years with the company. I enjoyed a glass of red wine and a glass of pims (some weird British alcohol).
Friday: Applied for a bank account in the morning (hopefully now I can get paid). Went to watch Pride and Prejudice with Adam and Ellen in Leicaster Square after work. When we arrive, realized that it doesn’t start until next Friday. Had dinner at an Itallian restaurant and drinks at the Ship and Shovel (beer of choice: Badger Best Bitter.
When I arrived at Leicester Square, I tried to find my camera in my bag, but I couldn’t. I know I had it that morning, because I was snapping pictures while I was on the bus after visiting the bank. I either lost it on the bus, at work, or on the Tube. I’m still trying to find it now, visiting various lost and founds, but no luck yet.
Saturday and Sunday: After losing my camera, I wasn’t in the mood to do anything memorable on the weekend, so I just read, relaxed, and watched the cricket. Cricket is a fabulous, but odd sport. It’s so slow, but exciting.

1st Day of Work

Tuesday was my first day of work. It was my first subway ride during rush hour. The tube was packed with men and women in suits. It was hot, standing room only, and smelled of sweat, perfume, and after shave. Almost everyone got off at Canary Wharf. When I saw all the buildings I almost lost my breath.

Canary Wharf is amazing. All brand new buildings of glass and brick, nestled within docks that now have fountains and parks interspersed between them.

I think Morgan Stanley will be a fine place to work. Everyone seems to put in long hours, but they don’t work super hard (although they just shipped, so it’s a bit of a lull right now). All my coworkers are very friendly. It’s weird seeing techies in dress clothing.

My first day was a setup day – computer accounts, security pass, etc.. My second day was an introduction to the product and the business. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get started on my first project.

Today we had a fire alarm. A voice came on over the intercom telling people “there is a fire in the building. please stay where you are until you hear further instructions”. I expected we would have to evacuate. But nope. We all had a good chuckle about that. I guess with traders in the building they only evacuate when it’s completely necessary.

My workstation is awesome – dual Xeon 2.8 Ghz, with 2 GB of RAM and 2 18″ flatscreen monitors. Sweet. The whole floor is low cubicles, so you can see everyone elses heads and monitors – it really discourages loafing.

There’s a really nice cafeteria in the building with subsidized food for employees. Although even then it’s expensive, but the food is amazing quality.

Random London Musings

The preparation work for London continues. I bought myself a <a href="http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_detail.jsp?FOLDERfolder_id=676469&PRODUCTprd_id=659203&bmUID=1120705640455″>nice pack from MEC for quick weekend trips in Europe. Tomorrow morning I book my flights and submit my visa application. I have also found a place to live in London with a roommate from Waterloo. He’s working at Barclays and has been in London on his last two work terms, so he’s going to show me the ropes. The flat is fully furnished and will only cost £1050/month, which works out to about $1135 per person in Canadian dollars. London is freaking expensive (see below).

Some random facts I ran across:

  • London is the 3rd most expensive city in the world! (For reference Toronto is 82, Vancouver is 87, and Seattle is 103)
  • Morgan Stanley is 39th on the Fortune 500. So there are only 38 American companies that are bigger. (Microsoft is 46, so I’m moving up in the world)
  • London will host the 2012 Summer Olympics. (Vancouver will host the 2010 Winter Olympics)
  • London’s rainiest month is October, it’s cloudiest is December (with only 37.8 hours of sunshine)
  • And from Wikipedia, these gems about Morgan Stanley:
    • Essence magazine named Morgan Stanley as one of the “30 Great Places to Work” in May 2004
    • Morgan Stanley was named one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers in 2004 by Working Mothers magazine
    • Morgan Stanley had 53,718 total employees worldwide as of February 28, 2005
    • Morgan Stanley is considered the industry leader in information technology, with an IT budget rivaling the operating budget of many medium and large software companies
    • Morgan Stanley was the largest employer in the World Trade Center prior to the events of September 11, 2001

Job Decisions

Sorry to keep everyone in suspense.

So, after much soul searching and advice from friends and family, I decided to accept the Morgan Stanley job. It was a really tough decision and I hated rejecting ZymeWorks again for a second time. But a chance to work in London doesn’t come along every day and I needed to jump on the opportunity. On one hand, I can’t believe I’ll be living in London in 11 weeks and I can’t wait to explore the city and countryside. On the other hand, I know I’m giving up a good opportunity in Vancouver, especially since I know I’d have lots of fun with Erin. But no regrets. London here I come. Yeah Baby, Yeah!

I think I’m going to have to watch Austin Powers before I go so I know what to expect culture-wise.

It’s going to be so awesome. Double decker buses, castles, British accents. So exciting.

My parents have already booked a flight down to visit me on November 11. They’re only coming for 4 days + travel time. Kind of a waste, but I guess they can’t take lots of holidays. If anyone else wants to jump on a plane and fly across the pond to come visit me, I’d be more then happy to house you and show you around. I’m not sure what kind of place I’ll have (maybe a flat), but if you’re willing to take the couch or the floor…

Offer Overload

Well co-op job rankings came out this morning. I had applied to 9 companies, interviewed with all 9, and received 8 job offers this morning. The co-op system is treating me well.

So here’s a quick summary:

Company Position Location
Telus Software Developer Vancouver
Bridgewater Systems Software Designer Ottawa
Net Integrations Technologies Human Cannonball Montreal
IBM Software Developer – Eclipse Winnipeg
University of Waterloo 2nd Year CS Tutor Waterloo
UW – Environmental Science Agent-Based Simulation Programmer Waterloo
Zymeworks Computer Simulation Programmer Vancouver
Morgan Stanley Programmer Analyst London, England

The only company I didn’t get an offer from was RIM (I don’t think they like me much after I told off an interviewer and left the interview early – but that’s another story). My strategy for co-op this time was to be picky and look for interesting jobs in interesting places. I tried to avoid jobs in Waterloo, Toronto, and Winnipeg, but I still applied to a few.

My bid dilemma right now is whether to work at Zymeworks or Morgan Stanley. I’ve been agonizing over the decision all day and getting feedback from friends and family. Here’s a quick summary of the pros and cons of each job: