At home, she speaks Hebrew with her husband, reads Israeli fiction for pleasure, and watches virtually no television. She is in the office at 7:30 a.m., is home by 8, and usually works another hour or so from there, to say nothing of the frequent work she does on weekends. While she does sit on the odd board and does some work for refugee women in Africa, the affairs of JPMorgan suck up most of her time. There is no time for trips to the gym. She admits to being ambitious and driven and ready for the next level professionally, but at times she wonders whether it's worth it. "There are good days and bad days. It's extremely draining," she says. "But I do not worry about job security, and I have no need for any higher monetary reward."
Nor does Vikram Pandit, Morgan Stanley's co-head of Institutional Securities. Last year, the 45-year-old native of Bombay made $7.5 million; the year before, $10.6 million. It's big money, but it's also a big responsibility that he bears: With 15,000 people worldwide reporting up to him, Pandit oversees the division that contributes over 60 percent of Morgan Stanley's $2.2 billion bottom line. Numbers like that tend to bring out a little bit of strut in a banker, but that's not the case with Pandit.
Though his large office in Morgan Stanley's flashy headquarters on Broadway is just down the hall from his boss Purcell's, it is free of the doodads that generally adorn a high-level Wall Street banker's lair. No tombstones, no framed photos on the wall of grip-and-grins with hotshots, no basketball hoop in the corner, no souvenirs from far-flung lands. Just an immaculate desk and a flat-screen monitor. "Maybe I've been spoiled," he says with a self-deprecating smile. "But I've been sheltered from the Gordon Gekko idea of Wall Street."
With his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering and a Ph.D. in finance from Columbia, Pandit joined Morgan Stanley in 1983 as an associate. In just seven years, he had become managing director, and by 1994 he was running the firm's equity-derivatives business. In late 2000, in the wake of a purge of old-line Morgan Stanley bankers, he was handpicked by Purcell to co-run all the firm's trading operations.
Pandit is a slight, bespectacled man who speaks in such a soft, self-effacing voice that he barely registers on a tape recorder. He is an unlikely corporate killer, which, say Morgan Stanley hands who know him well, is the secret of his success. Ph.D. smarts, his low profile, and his ability to attract powerful patrons (first Mack while he was president at Morgan Stanley, now Purcell) have been enough to send him on his way. "What attracted me to the industry was that this was a business that could be interesting and a lot of fun. But to do well, you have to put a lot of yourself into it," he says. "I have to admit there is a sense of accomplishment that comes along with it." Pandit speaks in a voice stripped of the slightest shred of ego. He speaks of the firm in place of himself. Not in the slick manner of a salesman but as someone who might very well bleed a little Morgan Stanley blue.
While Pandit's hours are long, living as he does in Manhattan, he is able to make it back most nights to put his two young children to bed. He admits to few interests outside of work. As for golf, he has tried on a number of occasions to pick it up. He has a set of irons and is a member of a club, but has for the most part given up on the charade. "I don't play golf. Period," Pandit says. "I'm sure I'd enjoy it, but I just never got good at it."