Balancing the Grind with Uka Battulga, Investment Banking Analyst at Morgan Stanley

Uka Battulga is a San Francisco-based Investment Banking Analyst at Morgan Stanley, where she focuses on Financial Sponsors and Industrials.

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1. To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I am a graduate of Brown University and currently working as an investment banking analyst at Morgan Stanley in San Francisco, CA.

My interest in finance stems from the exposure I had to personal finance at a young age. My parents and I immigrated to the US from Mongolia while I was a toddler and the biggest contributor to our success in the States was our understanding of the country’s financial system.

My mom was a voracious reader of personal finance books and she helped me understand the importance of armoring ourselves with financial literacy.

During college, it occurred to me that I wanted to augment my understanding of finance from a personal level to a corporate one. I joined a lot of business organizations on campus and met older students who helped me understand that the investment banks had an imperative role in the global business and financial ecosystem.

Similar to the way that personal finance accelerated my family’s growth in the US, I wanted to be in a position where I could help corporations achieve their goals.

I can’t see myself having pursued anything else straight after college. During my time here, I’ve received unparalleled training and mentorship that will benefit me for the rest of my life.

2. What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

While each day is varied from one to the other, there is soft 3-part structure that I like to follow:

Mornings: I check my email on my way to work so that when I get to the office by 9am, I know which emails I should respond to right away. I then like to write my daily to-do list of all of the projects and deadlines that are upcoming.

Once I have a sense of what needs to get done, I catch up with the rest of my team about which tasks and projects we should tackle first and which can be executed later in the day. I am also on a lot of calls throughout the mornings, sometimes as early as 5am since our office is based on the West Coast and conference calls are scheduled to accommodate the East Coast time.

Afternoons: If my schedule allows, I like to sprinkle in walks and snacks during the afternoons to help me reset for the rest of the day.

Evenings: The mornings and afternoons can be chaotic with calls and emails and so I use this time (when most of the firm has signed off) to focus on projects that warrant undivided concentration.

3. Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

I am very fortunate to have a job that can seamlessly translate from the office to my apartment. Working remotely has been very efficient – during periods of downtime, it is much easier to squeeze in a quick jog, a call to a friend, or a nap.

Other times, when the work is intense (and requires us to work into the wee hours of the night), it is much easier to manage and stay positive while being surrounded by my personal belongings.

4. What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

To me, work-life balance means that I can still take care of myself spiritually and physically while having a demanding job. This has been much easier to achieve during shelter-in-place since I can use the pockets of downtime to workout a few times throughout the week without having to leave my apartment.

To keep myself elevated spiritually, I like to engage in my hobbies. I love reading, writing, singing, and catching up on movies and shows. In order to be my best and rejuvenated self, I need to unplug from my work and engaging in my hobbies is the best way for me to do that.

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5. In the past 12 months, have you started/stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I’ve been a poor sleeper my whole life. Throughout high school, I would lie wide awake and would only be able to fall asleep as the rest of the city was waking up to start their day. My poor sleeping habits got particularly bad during college when I let anxious thoughts prevent me from getting quality sleep every night.

Over the past year, I got into the habit of reading books and keeping my phone out of reach before bedtime. I purchased a clip-on reading light that comes in 3 different light temperatures to help set whatever mood I want.

6. Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I recently read Different by Youngme Moon. She discusses how consumer products have ironically become one heterogenous homogenous group as a result of trying to out-compete one another.

Moon argues that in order for a company to stand out and differentiate itself, it must do the opposite of the competition and provoke an otherwise indifferent consumer.

I’m a big podcast listener. I’m a fan of The Pitch, How I Built This, The Graham Stephan Show, and 99% Invisible.

7. Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

My Bose noise-cancelling headphones. I’ve always been sensitive to sound (I’ve self-diagnosed myself with misophonia haha) and to keep myself in a serene state, I often have my headphones on.

8. If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

Founder and CEO of Suitably, Annabel Gatto!

9. Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Follow your skills and values! And don’t be too concerned about what the other guy is doing.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.