Indulge your creativity and give back with Morgan Stanley

The 2015 Morgan Stanley Student Photo Competition reflects the firm's core values: the importance of ‘giving back’ and ‘leading with exceptional ideas’

Every organisation has their own set of core values and beliefs. You’ll find them scrolled across their website or company marketing literature. Few companies live and breathe their core values to the extent that Morgan Stanley does, however.

These core beliefs, in particular the importance of ‘giving back‘ and ‘leading with exceptional ideas‘, form the thinking behind the 2015 Morgan Stanley Student Photo Competition.

Now in its third year, the competition is open to students based in any of the three participating regions: Europe, Middle East and North Africa (EMEA), North America and Asia-Pacific (APAC).

The theme of this year’s competition is ‘Healthy Cities‘. The idea draws on Morgan Stanley Healthy Cities, the firm’s latest ongoing global charitable initiative. Healthy Cities programming supports children in disadvantaged urban communities by creating enhanced opportunities for wellness, nutrition and play. 

We spoke to members of the judging panel from each of the three regions to discover more about the aims of the competition and how it fits in with the firm’s wider work with local communities worldwide.  

North America

Based in New York, Joan Steinberg is a Managing Director at Morgan Stanley and Global Head of Philanthropy for the firm. She is the Photo Competition’s North American Judge.

We launched Morgan Stanley Healthy Cities in the three cities here in the US – Chicago, Newark and Oakland – in Summer 2014. The goal was to integrate the basic fundamentals children need for a healthy start – wellness, nutrition and safe places to play – and work city by city to improve children’s health.

The project brings together the different skill-sets of our employees and draws on their combined creativity and ideas. Make no mistake, there’s also a lot of sweat and hard work involved: in Chicago alone we’ve so far delivered 365,000 meals to children around the city. 

The photo competition is just one small part of this; it’s a way of engaging students with the communities around them, ‘leading with ideas’ and developing their own take on what Healthy Cities means to them.

The message we want to convey to students and potential applicants is that charity is not just something we believe in at Morgan Stanley, it’s fully baked in our DNA. There’s an expectation of all employees here to share in the organisation’s core values and to play their own part in supporting local communities and charities. 

If charity is something you’re genuinely interested in then this is a firm that will actively encourage you to broaden your horizons beyond the office and to get involved in helping people in your community. 


Sue Watts is the Managing Director and Chair of the Morgan Stanley International Foundation, which celebrated its 20th Anniversary last year. She is one of the EMEA judges of the photo competition.

Following its success in the US, this year marks the launch of Morgan Stanley Healthy Cities here in the UK. We’ve been supporting a number of communities in the Capital over the past 20 years, however, this initiative focuses specifically on the Poplar community in East London.

While in the United States much of the focus has been on providing primary health services, here in London our initial feedback has shown that nutrition, healthy eating, and having access to safe play areas are bigger priorities for the local community.

The Healthy Cities programme is part of the wider work being done by the Morgan Stanley International Foundation (MSIF), the Firm’s charitable arm in EMEA. 

Every two years, the firm’s employees vote for a new London Charity Partner to support over the course of a week-long poll.  Once a partner has been selected, employees are given a goal of raising money for a life-changing project chosen by the charity.

Recent successes include raising funds to help construct the Morgan Stanley Clinical Building for Great Ormond Street Hospital. We have also helped establish The Princes Trust Morgan Stanley Centre in Poplar as well as The Morgan Stanley Heart Yard for Kids Company, which is based in South London. 

Volunteering is also a hugely important part of what we do. A highlight of the year for us is Global Volunteer Month, where employees are encouraged to donate their time to help local communities with projects ranging from gardening and painting to reading clubs and mentoring.

Throughout all these initiatives, the overriding aim of Morgan Stanley is to ensure that, wherever the firm is located, we’re taking an active interest in our local community and giving back.

Asia Pacific

Caroline Wong is the competition’s Asia Pacific-based judge. An Executive Director with the firm, she is head of Morgan Stanley’s Corporate Social Responsibility programme in the region.

The photo competition is a great way to engage students and showcase the great charitable work we do across different areas of the World, not just in our core markets of Europe and North America.

Here in Asia, we’re really excited with plans for the Healthy Cities campaign to be rolled out in Mumbai, India later this year. The core aims of the campaign and its focus on health and nutrition are extremely relevant to developing Asian nations. 

The Mumbai project should hopefully pave the way for extending the programme to Morgan Stanley’s other key locations throughout the Asia Pacific region. Our employees here are already very engaged in charity and philanthropy and have direct experience of working closely alongside local NGOs. 

Each head office has a philanthropy committee with employees from all levels of the organisation represented. It’s their job to evaluate and select from charitable programmes in the local area and decide on how best to support them. 

Having as many people involved as possible from the start of the process helps to encourage a sense of ownership around each project, allowing our workers to add maximum value.

Sustainable Charities: the Morgan Stanley Approach

One of the most important ways Morgan Stanley helps charities and non-profits is through forming strategic partnerships that allow the firm to offer services such as advice, consultancy and project management on a pro-bono basis. 

It is an approach, which the firm has formalised through an initiative called The Morgan Stanley Strategy Challenge, that has recently been extended to the EMEA region, having been running in the US with great success for the past six years. 

The scheme aims to leverage the professional skills of Morgan Stanley employees to help local non-profits. These partnerships provide employees with a base from which to offer training and consultancy on areas such as financial management, strategy as well as legal issues. 

The company is also well positioned to provide project management and on-the-ground logistical support for large charitable campaigns. In the past this has included helping to dispense several hundred thousand hot meals to children in Chicago and serve up 172,000 healthy breakfasts at schools across London.

The key goal of each of Morgan Stanley’s charitable partnerships is sustainability. Having carefully selected the right non-profit partner to work with, the initial side-by-side collaboration typically lasts between two and three years on average. 

The support and advice provided by the firm during this period helps to create a stable foundation, allowing each organisation to continue to thrive and successfully help communities over the long-term. 

It’s a structure that allows the firm to use its resources to have as big an impact as possible. With many decades spent successfully supporting charities around the world, the approach certainly seems to be working.

For more information about the Morgan Stanley University Photo Competition and to view all the shortlisted entries and vote for your favourite, please visit: