Turning points – exciting, unexpected, essential

To wrap up National Career Development month, Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer Greg Davis offers insights into key moments from his time at Vanguard.

One of my favorite parts of National Career Development month has been reading other crew members’ meaningful career experiences. Kristin L. shared the importance of gratitude towards those who helped shaped her successes. I learned how Amy M.’s military background drove her accomplishments in civilian life. A realization about company culture led Dan K.to become a longtime crew member. And Jordan W. expressed how a supportive work environment can lead to significant achievements.

Now, I would like to continue the trend and share the moments that influenced my professional journey:

Knowing when to let go.

During the early part of my career, I was leading a small team of traders in our Fixed Income Group and it was my first time as a manager. Since I was accustomed to more technically driven responsibilities, I knew I had to shift my mindset to a people focus. A great boss gave me some very perceptive advice, “When your traders can do the job 80% as well as you, let them do it.” I realized I had to learn when to give up some control. It was an eye-opening moment.

It can be tough as a leader to let go at times, but I found that this approach has multiple benefits: it frees you up to tackle other more strategic issues that need your attention and it shows your team that you have confidence in their abilities. While it may be faster to do some tasks yourself in the short-run, teaching someone to do it on their own is a better long term strategy for the entire team. True leadership requires the humility to accept handing over the reins.

On successful teams, each member knows they’re essential.

Another memorable moment happened when I began working under Tim Buckley, Vanguard’s Chief Investment Officer at the time. Tim is very forward looking and he taught me to be deliberate about building the right team – it should be composed of talented collaborators who have the ability to run together towards a common goal. Because of Tim’s example, I often stress the importance of developing people, it’s a critical element for long-term investment success. But what do you do when you discover a member of the team isn’t performing at the right level?

Ultimately it comes down to continuously growing as a team and acknowledging when someone needs additional coaching. I have found that being candid is appreciated, even if it is an uncomfortable conversation initially. We should always remember that giving feedback enables someone to understand their strengths and opportunity areas, which are critical to their long term success.

Always consider what needs to happen now to be successful in the future.

As a final thought, I want to share some advice around another big moment – choosing your next role. As you assess your career goals and dreams, ask yourself three questions:

  1. What are you passionate about?
  2. What are you good at?
  3. Which job leverages both of these?

When you find a position that combines your interests and talents, you have found your dream job. But, the key to answering these questions effectively is self-awareness. You may be passionate about music, for example, but unable to sing a single note on key. Identify how much time and energy you want to invest in developing skills before pursuing a role or industry.

A word of thanks.

I am thankful to have had opportunities to serve in multiple roles in areas that I was very passionate about and that aligned well with my skill-set. But it wouldn’t have been the same without the right team, the right leaders, and the right company.

Perhaps that is the biggest lesson of all.

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