I arrived at Vanguard in the fall of 2005 after a career in both the non-profit sector and in a help-desk support environment. I had been seeking what some friends warned didn’t exist in a corporate environment: a place that valued lifelong learning and a culture of service. My corporate orientation mentioned a broad set of community initiatives and introduced the idea of professional development with a commitment I had not heard in my prior experiences. Still, I was skeptical: do leaders here really dedicate that much time to growth? Do these people who call themselves ‘crew’ really have the drive to give back to their own community, often on their own time?
A chance to grow
I found my answers in the first few weeks as a website support specialist. After I asked about ways we might improve our client’s online experience, my supervisor invited me to join him on a conference call with a vendor. I found myself explaining details and offering suggestions to consider new approaches. Immediately after the meeting, my supervisor sat with me one on one, asked how I felt, and then offered constructive ways to think about my questions for the future (for example, he advised me to ‘ask yourself if you would recommend the change if your client was in the room’). I remember being struck by the level of consideration given to my ideas, and the care taken to ensure that changes were in the best interest of our clients. The trust and respect I felt was liberating and challenging. I was inspired to prove that I could contribute even more.
A culture of teamwork
Fast forward to 2008, where I found myself watching, alongside my colleagues and the world, as pillars of the global economy began to deteriorate. Rather than panicking, our leaders joined their teams to answer client calls and emails, and set the tone to reaffirm our investment principles. The reassuring patience and focus on our long-term approach that clients heard was a mirror of the commitment that crew felt across all levels. That day, I learned that we are fundamentally more than a financial institution – we are built to help people realize their dreams. Senior leaders, processing associates, project leads, and phone representatives unified under that idea. That experience solidified my desire to pursue leadership as my career path. And with the support of Vanguard University and other leaders who have served as mentors to me, I’ve been leading crew – and serving alongside them – for nearly 10 years.
A commitment to service
My path has provided me with a number of fulfilling community experiences. I have shopped for gifts with colleagues to brighten the holiday season for children in need. I have joined crew and made Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a “day on, not a day off,” by painting apartments for elderly Philadelphians. For me, our commitment to community shines brightest during our “Vanguard Gives Back” annual giving campaign, where crew can pledge time and donations to make a tremendous impact.
I had long hoped to involve more people in giving, and I met with colleagues and a leader to develop an idea that could leverage our health-focused culture. In 2012, I was honored to help kick off our giving campaign by coordinating the first ever Vanguard Gives Back 5k race within our Pennsylvania campus. Over 500 crew ran, walked, and wheeled that first year. In 2017, that number grew to nearly 2,000! I have since met with crew in our Arizona, North Carolina, and even Australian offices to share our experiences and expand this event. They have made the 5k a truly global force, and a symbol of working and giving together.
Writing about these experiences leaves me with excitement for the future. It also instills a sense of responsibility for me to carry the examples I received forward to others. The next crew member I meet may be looking for their next growth opportunity, may become inspired to serve clients and colleagues, or may help Vanguard expand its leadership in our community.
I’ll be right there with them.