Vanguard diversity Asian professional

How LEAP made me feel at home

My parents emigrated from the Philippines to the United States before I was born.  My siblings and I are the lucky recipients of their courageous American dream – for their future children to become the first generation of American-born children in the family.  They settled down in New York City, in Stuyvesant Town, on New York’s Lower East Side.  As a young girl, I always knew I wanted to work amidst the hustle and bustle of NYC.  But limited income, spread across a growing family, meant my parents had little savings for me to attend undergrad without incurring significant debt.  I buckled down and was fortunate to earn a full-ride scholarship towards an undergraduate degree that allowed me to achieve my dream – and experiences across a variety of different NYC institutions: a Japanese investment firm, a publicly-traded global investment bank, and UK-based index company.

Vanguard diversity Asian professional

Needing a career move
My life transitioned when I gave birth to my daughter. She made me pause and look at everything in a new way. Unfortunately, my time with her was limited – this time in my career often had me traveling cross country, entertaining client relationships or commuting over one and a half hours to-and-from the office.

Then along came Vanguard. Now, I had been an investor in Vanguard funds for years.  And I was Vanguard’s key account manager while at my last firm. But I never truly got to know the culture until getting to know the crew. Could it be true – a company that cared as much for its people as it did its clients? It was refreshing to hear that employees would be empowered to make decisions with a different core mission in mind, one which had a sense of purpose, of thinking beyond short term gains.

So we took the leap.  I joined Vanguard and relocated my family to the Philly suburbs. It wasn’t easy. I didn’t foresee how much I would miss my family, how much my daughter, and only child, would miss her weekend play dates with cousins.  I found it hard to network with crew whose relationships spanned over the course of years of family ties, neighborhood block parties, and high school relationships. I didn’t follow the Phillies or the Eagles, and I didn’t know what a tomato pie was! Only with the support of my husband could I have ever made the move. For the first time, I was out of my comfort zone – the figurative and literal new kid in the neighborhood.

Vanguard diversity Asian professional

Finding my Vanguard family
By chance, shortly after joining Vanguard, I attended a full-day conference sponsored by the Crew Resource Group “Leadership and Engagement for Asian Professionals” (LEAP).  The inaugural event – focused on connecting, inspiring, and elevating crew of Asian descent – was motivating to see. Hundreds of crew members who, like myself, were transplants from different cities worldwide gathered together to celebrate our shared culture.  The energy and the vibe of foreign-born or second-generation immigrants who work hard to embrace the opportunities they’ve been given is palpable if you’re familiar with it – I was inspired and reminded of the resilience my parents faced as transplants into NYC.  But hearing leaders speak to the value of inclusion, of diversity of cultures, and of thought, I knew I made the right choice coming to Vanguard.  I reached out to the LEAP leadership team after the conference to volunteer my time – and give back the sense of community and inclusion LEAP gave to me.

As we look back on Asian/Pacific American Heritage month, three years after being an audience member, I am proud to be one of a 100-crew member volunteer group that dedicated over six months of their hard work, creativity, and time to put on our third, now global LEAP conference.  I am proud of working for compassionate leaders who genuinely support crew in their desires to give back, through Vanguard’s Crew Resource Groups (CRGs) or community-based programs.  And I am proud to call Vanguard home.

Vanguard diversity Asian professional

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