What is it like to chat with Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman?
“He smells bulls— from miles away.”
That’s according to a summer intern who got to sit down with the chief executive in his midtown Manhattan office.
Gorman extended an open invitation to summer interns to coordinate with his staff and visit him in groups of 4 or 5. Hundreds have jumped at the opportunity this summer.
The intern we spoke to described the CEO as “very down to earth.”
Here’s what the meeting was like:
“You go all the way up to the 41st floor,” the intern said. “It’s very clean, elegant — it’s really cool.”
Gorman greeted the intern and a handful of others with comments about their academics or extracurricular activities.
“The CEO must have Googled my name,” the intern said.
Gorman was “very nice” and offered them water and snacks (which no one ate).
Then, one intern started the conversation with a predictable question, like, What drives your inspiration to be such a successful person?
Gorman saw through the flattery, the intern we spoke to said. “He was like, ‘Yeah, I don’t know, that’s a really deep question. I don’t think I can really answer that. Alright let’s go to the next one.'”
“He’s not a typical Wall Street guy,” the intern said. “He spends time with his family on the weekends.”
They talked about the way Gorman approaches problems (“really big, complicated ideas — he likes to distill down”) and the celebrities and influencers that he’s rubbed shoulders with, including “Coach K” of Duke University and President Obama.
He answered questions about investor calls and how he knows what to say (a ready team of assistants with prepared materials are there to help him field potential questions).
The interns even asked the CEO about his political affiliation.
On that point, Gorman, an Australian who became a US citizen in time for the 2004 presidential election, would not elaborate.