If you’re lucky enough to have worked with Mary Gibbons Gardiner, you know she’s a strong advocate for diversity, especially for women. As a founding member of the Blue Sandstone Group at Morgan Stanleyan entirely female-led advisory team, she is known for her mentorship of young women and her community involvements.
As a Financial Advisor and Director of Family Wealth, Mary has much to offer her clients and mentees. She has overwhelming support from managers as well as her peers, including other members of LIFT—Ladies in Finance Together, the New York chapter of Women In Wealth, one of the employee networks from Morgan Stanley, which focuses on “facelifting” and empowering women within the company. .
Mary is a natural leader who values the values instilled in her by her Irish immigrant parents: education, generosity and faith. The eldest of five children, Mary speaks fondly of her siblings and family for their support. The first in her family to graduate from college, Mary believes the love and support she received from her parents was key in shaping her and giving her confidence. “I knew I was loved and felt like I could do anything,” she says.
Mary is a graduate of Pace University and was recognized for her accomplishments by being selected to be part of the school’s two-year leadership development program. She and the other students learned leadership and presentation skills and how to defend themselves and others. The biggest benefit of the program has been the emphasis on mentoring. “The program gave me a roadmap for success, in college, in business and in life,” she says. “I’m still in contact with many grassroots people in the program, who were my first board to support me.”
One of Mary’s main strengths is her empathy. She often refers to her own mother, who was a stay-at-home mom until she started working night shifts when Mary was 12. Keeping a balance was difficult, but, putting herself in her mother’s shoes, Mary could see the change in her. mother, empowered to earn her own money. “That’s part of the reason why I’m so passionate about empowering others with their finances,” says Mary, a working mom herself. She considers it a blessing to have raised her daughter, now 26, an “empowered young woman”.
Mary has accomplished a lot in her long career. She started on Wall Street at age 22 in technology sales. His first boss told him to “put some money in your 401k because it would lower your taxes.” She had no intention of doing any financial planning, but the fact that she was able to save so early made a difference in her financial life and her desire to help others.
Her second career was in banking, where she worked with Fortune 200 companies across the country in management and sales roles. Mary went through eight mergers and learned that it was “always important to have a plan B”. So she went to school at night to develop her knowledge of financial planning while working full time and raising her daughter. She considers her husband’s support to be one of the main reasons for her success.
Mary joined Morgan Stanley 17 years ago to grow her financial advisory practice and is proud of the success of the company and the team she has built since then. What she learned about herself is that her core values have helped her build a strong team and that she is good at identifying the talents of others and connecting complementary skill sets. “People can be as different as day and night, but being able to share core values and trusting each other creates a successful partnership,” she points out.
A core value she builds her team around is empathy, helping colleagues to “sit in the shoes of the customers and really understand their situation”. This, in turn, helps clients clarify their financial life through a roadmap. “We all have a story, maybe a childhood that affects our perception of finance,” she says. “Providing clients with this clarity is really empowering. That’s why I love getting up every day to help make a difference in the lives of our clients.
Over the years, she also learned to bend where needed. When her daughter was in school, Mary was involved in many projects, from Girl Scouts to the PTA to performing arts. When her daughter left for college, Mary joined the board Westchester Hospicewhere she has just completed her third year as Chair of the Board.
She is also active with walk with purpose, an all-female group, involved in learning about the Catholic faith and the Bible. “It’s a great support network for my faith, to learn more about what more I can do here on earth to give back,” she says. “It was an amazing experience.” She is also a member of the new Pace University Alumnae group, where she is busy developing scholarships for women and diverse students.
At Morgan Stanley, Mary is Vice President of the NY Metro Regional LIFT Council. During COVID, Mary has brought women together to help each other through this difficult time. As Co-Chair of the Events Committee, Mary focused on events that championed women’s health and demonstrated the power of connecting through conversation with the author. Susan McPherson. Now, as LIFT Metro Vice President, she has the opportunity to enhance the program with LIFT President Jill Schildkraut-Katz.
When asked if she had recently been named a Morgan Stanley MAKER, joining a distinguished group of women and men, all nominated by their peers for serving as advocates, pioneers and innovators for the advancement of women , Mary shared her excitement for this recognition and the importance of giving back to the community. “I’m so grateful to join this sisterhood of women who have raised the bar in how they give back,” she says. “I feel a huge responsibility to keep giving back and to set the bar even higher.”