Few executives at Morgan Stanley could be better suited to motivate its advisors than Carla Harris, the firm's vice chairwoman of wealth management and senior client advisor.

After all, Harris's ability to deliver a compelling message is one reason why she was appointed by President Barack Obama as chairwoman of the National Women's Business Council.

A story she shares is how when she started out in the industry she didn't want anyone to know she sang. But when clients appreciated that she had singing talent, she decided not to hide that dimension of her life any longer.

"When I sat down to pitch they saw me from a different lens," Harris told an audience at Arizona State University last February. "I naturally differentiated myself from the others who pitched that afternoon."

It's just one anecdote meant to highlight what Harris calls pearls [of wisdom] based on her years in the wealth management industry. A Harvard business school alumni, Harris joined Morgan Stanley in 1987.

Her message to women in the industry hoping to rise up in their fields: be true to who you are. Another: "If you consider yourself a leader in the 21st century you must be comfortable taking risk."

Harris is influential on women in finance, says Theresa Hamacher, president of NICSA: "Through her example and presentations, she has helped many industry professionals advance their careers and take control of work-life balance."

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