The brightest and the best are moving on.
It was a Friday in the fall of 2004 and Umber Ahmad had been invited to read a poem at the wedding of one of her closest friends. She was planning to catch a 7 p.m. flight from New York to Toronto when a vice president at Morgan Stanley called her in. The client in a big merger deal needed work done over the weekend. A mergers and acquisitions specialist, Ahmad had no choice. She cancelled the flight and started revising her analysis of the deal, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its June issue.
The missed wedding was just one of dozens of dinners, family get-togethers and other events that Ahmad did not attend as she worked 70- and 80-hour weeks as a young associate at Morgan Stanley and later as a vice president at Goldman Sachs Ahmad, the Michigan-born daughter of a Pakistani doctor who taught at Harvard Medical School, likens the long hours and all-nighters to serving in the army.
'The military will show you that sleep deprivation is a form of torture', she says. 'Not being able to get regular sleep is a detriment to your life, to your health'.
Her life revolved around her job, she says. She dated another banker. Many of her friends were - and still are - bankers because they understood last-minute cancellations and upset vacation plans.
But for Ahmad, banking was a springboard to her new life as an entrepreneur.
'As hard as it was and as trying as it was and as sleepless as it was, it also afforded me the opportunity to be where I am today', she says.
Some of the best and brightest of Wall Street’s young investment bankers are bailing out of their high-paying, prestigious jobs at big financial institutions. Many are setting up their own businesses, especially in technology.
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