Managing Director, Head of Equity Private Placements & Retail Capital, Morgan Stanley, New York City
Carla Ann Harris has found a way to pursue her passion for singing without giving up her job as an investment banker. When night falls, she trades in her pinstripes for the spotlight and gives her alter ego an opportunity to shine. “I love finance and I like the deal-making business,” explains Harris, who is managing director, head of equity private placements and retail capital markets coverage at Morgan Stanley in New York City. She is responsible for structuring, marketing and executing private equity financing in seven major business and technology sectors. “But singing is a passion for me, and there may come a time in my life where I make one my vocation and the other my avocation. But for now, the mix that I have works for me,” she says.
Harris started singing as a child. She performs in cabarets, at open-mike nights and in other local settings. However, the bulk of her performance time is spent with the St. Charles Gospelites, a gospel choir in Harlem’s St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church. “Whenever we perform, it is standing room only in the church, so it makes quite an impact,” she says.
Harris, who has an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, notes that the bar was always set very high for her when she was a child. She was surrounded by strong, accomplished women who led by example. Her paternal grandmother ran a successful neighborhood tavern in Jacksonville, Fla., for more than 40 years and her mother juggled a full-time job and family duties while pursuing a master’s degree. “I grew up thinking that as a woman you can have it all if you are focused, organized and determined,” Harris says.
Harris is proud of the two albums she has released: Carla’s First Christmas and Joy Is Waiting, a gospel album. She committed all the proceeds to St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School and Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville, Fla. “I believe that we receive blessings so that we can be blessings to others,” she says.