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From John Molson to Morgan Stanley, Mael Traore forges his own path in the business world

‘My time in diversity and inclusion created a stronger sense that I’m a part of this company’
September 14, 2023
By Jacqueline Di Bartolomeo, BA 15, MA 17

A man with black hair and light blue dress shirt faces the camera; he is standing in front of a grey wall

Following a less-than-linear career path since his undergraduate student days, Mael Traore, GrCert 19, is someone who thrives in the unknown.

His journey has led him from a degree in labour and industrial relations to a stint at aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney Canada, a graduate certificate from the John Molson School of Business and multiple moves at Morgan Stanley in Montreal — most recently as a vice-president in the innovation division since December 2022.

“It takes a certain level of focus to still be able to remain calm whenever something breaks or something new is happening,” Traore admits.

Following a bachelor’s degree from Université de Montréal in 2013, Traore was eager to enter the workforce and apply the theoretical knowledge he had gained in a practical setting. Yet, he felt something was missing. That uncertain feeling would lead him to the John Molson Graduate Certificate in Business Administration.

The certificate complemented his prior studies and work experience. “It helps you understand the macro dimensions at play in a corporate environment, as well as what is important to leadership and how they make decisions,” he says. 

Equipped with that understanding, Traore began his journey at the Montreal arm of global financial-services giant Morgan Stanley, one of the firm's largest technology centres, where he had been working since 2016.

The Montreal Technology Centre plays a key role in supporting the firm’s leading tech platforms and innovative solutions. This also means staying at the forefront of new and emerging technologies (they’ve had their eye on OpenAI for quite some time, he says)

Creating a culture of belonging

After two years at Morgan Stanley, Traore wanted to be in on the creation of its diversity, inclusion and philanthropy division. Since then, he says, he has seen the division’s efforts pay off first-hand, both increasing representation and making sure that everyone within the firm feels like they belong — including himself. 

“My time in diversity and inclusion created a stronger sense that I’m a part of this company,” he says. “It makes you feel like you’ll do whatever you can within your space to make sure that opportunities are created for people who are similar to you, as well as people from different backgrounds.”

A large group of people at a conference pose for the camera Mael Traore (pictured front row, fourth from left) represents Morgan Stanley at a gathering of the Réseau des professionnels noirs.

Strong mentorship is a core element of Traore’s approach to business. Growing up, he did not have the opportunity to be mentored by people with a shared background and life experiences. That’s something he wanted to change for those who came after him. He now leads a diversity network within Morgan Stanley called RED (Race and Ethnic Diversity). 

In other words, Traore has taken on a future-oriented role. Professionally, he’s positioning Morgan Stanley for whatever comes next. But when it comes to his own life, he hasn’t been following a hard-and-fast plan.

“I don’t think I would have been able to anticipate where I ended up,” he admits. In fact, he believes that flexibility is one of three key elements to making a difference in business. 

The second is authenticity. “Bring your entire self to work,” he says, adding that the last piece of the puzzle is to find work that makes you happy.

Those three pieces aren’t likely to change, no matter where Traore’s path leads next. Beyond that? He says he’s open to the possibilities.

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