Vanguard work family Tiffany

The family I never expected

June has always been one of my favorite times of the year.  Spring has brought an annual feeling of renewal and the excitement of summer is peeking around the corner.  One of my favorite sights is that of hopeful graduates in caps and gowns walking through the Philadelphia streets full of pride and promise for the future.  Seeing them takes me back to my own graduation, when I was preparing to leave the relative comfort of my MBA program to embark on a new adventure with Vanguard.  I still remember the unique blend of nervousness and excitement as I left the graduation ceremony knowing that everything was about to change.

Vanguard work family Tiffany

I grew up in the Midwest, specifically Detroit, Michigan.  Until I accepted the offer to join Vanguard, I had never lived anywhere else.  I always had the benefit of a big, close-knit network of family and dear friends, who supported me during my academic and professional journeys.  When moving day arrived, I remember backing my car out of my mom’s driveway, tearfully waving good-bye, and thinking, “Who in the world is going to help me unpack all of this stuff?”  It was my first realization that I was on my own.

My first few days at Vanguard were so wonderful, that I had little time to spend on my anxieties about the transition.  Everyone was so welcoming and willing to answer absolutely any question.  My new leader took great care to encourage me to take my time learning the ropes.  Regarding her expectations of me as a new manager in her organization, she said, “Just go out there and be yourself.  People will see what I see and they’ll know you’re here to make things better.  You’ll figure out the rest.”  It was in that moment, when I was encouraged to just be me, that knew I had made the right decision.

Vanguard work family Tiffany

In the weeks to come, things continued to go well.  I had found my stride with my new team, and I was starting to speak the language in this vast new place.  Though I was finding my footing, something was still missing.  I had been in Philadelphia for a couple of months, and I was really longing for family.  The absence of their special kind of support was tough at times.  It was the only thing that stopped me from feeling I’d found the absolute perfect place for me.  But then something happened to change everything.  Another African-American woman in my department suggested I sign up for the Vanguard Black Professional Network (VBPN).  In what seemed like no time at all, my inbox was flooded with invitations for coffee, lunch, and dinner.  I saw an email from the head of VBPN asking about a dozen leaders to all please reach out and make sure I had everything I needed.  Once these offers started flying in, I realized what had been missing during my transition.  There were things unique to my experience as a black woman new to the Philadelphia area that I hadn’t even thought to ask for help with up to that point.  I suddenly had recommendations for where to live, where to socialize, and where to have my hair done. It was like I stumbled upon 20 long-lost cousins with all sorts of advice!  Slowly the gap I felt started to close.

Vanguard work family Tiffany

In addition to leveraging my new family to get myself acclimated to Philadelphia, I found incredible value in the new professional relationships that I forged.  Within 6 months I had a handful of mentors who served as sounding boards on professional matters large and small.  Over time I solicited their feedback on presentations, asked for opinions on jobs I considered pursuing, and sought encouragement when I knew I’d made mistakes.  It was the same support I’d found from friends and family back home.  I came to realize that I had indeed found family at Vanguard.  As time marched on, I joined the VBPN leadership team and have made it my priority to expand this feeling of “family” to our diverse and ever growing membership.

Years after I first arrived at Vanguard, I now look at the work that VBPN and our other Crew Resource Groups are doing in the name of inclusion for everyone: professional development programs, networking opportunities, cultural celebrations, and much more. I’m filled with pride to think of all that Vanguard leaders and crew are investing to make our company welcoming and supportive to all. I only hope that everyone involved fully appreciates the impact their work has on people like me. They really did help me find a new family. I’ll forever be grateful.

-Tiffany H.

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