Vanguard women invest in themselves

Vanguard women break down investment acumen myths and perceptions

Vanguard’s crew resource group WILS (Women’s Initiative for Leadership Success) recently hosted a panel discussion with three female senior leaders in Investment Management to help breakdown investment acumen myths and misconceptions. In this blog, we recap the event and share how these discussions drive professional development and offer ways to improve this important skill-set.

Three panelists take the stage, each representing a different area of focus in Vanguard’s Investment Management group: U.S. Equity Investment Risk Management, Global Rates and Fixed Income Strategy, and Product Planning. Each share their diverse career journey – some had long investment management careers outside Vanguard, others spent time on our Client Services teams or in rotational programs. But all three were anxious to help the women and men in the audience overcome their struggles with the often intimidating world of investment management.

Vanguard women invest in themselves

First, it was imperative that the panel define what encompasses Investment Acumen – how does it differ for those focused squarely and deeply in Investment Management from those whose leadership interests are more general?

Seeking deep investment acumen

Two of the panelists expressed the importance of specialization in Investment Management. Their career advice for those who are pursuing this path is to go deep on what interests you most. Develop conviction and an opinion in that area, pursue courses and/or certifications that will increase your knowledge and expertise. They conveyed that specialization is a great way to distinguish yourself.

Vanguard women invest in themselves

General investment knowledge

It is also important to have foundational investment acumen for anyone working in Financial Services and at Vanguard. Prior to her current role, one of the panelists had spent the majority of her career in leadership and strategy roles, where she had a strong focus on developing crew. This leader shared that she was keenly tuned in to her learning style. She knew that it was important for her to deepen her investment acumen, so she sought a role to close what she felt were some gaps in this area. She also reinforced the importance of knowing yourself, “I have an all-in learning style so I knew an immersive experience was right for me.” For others in similar situations, she encouraged the audience to think about what unique strengths you bring to the table. How might you lean into those as you’re learning and contributing to a new group?

Vanguard women invest in themselves

Final thoughts

The panelists also shared their thoughts on how women in Investment Management can be perceived, and the unique challenges they have experienced in overcoming conscious and unconscious bias. The fact is that currently there are significantly fewer women than men in investment management. In everyday settings, women need to adopt strategies to make sure their diverse thoughts are heard. When any group of people is outnumbered, they tend to be heard less and more likely to get interrupted and dismissed.

These panelists advise us to keep swimming against the current. Seek to understand the dynamic of whatever group you’re in and develop a strategy for how you can fit in. It is important for each of us to be ourselves, while fitting into the environment as that self and on our own terms. A great foundation is to build your acumen and credentialize yourself as a valuable voice in the room. Everyone in the room was already doing that very thing – attending sessions like these builds acumen and strengths that enable crew to stand out.

Finally, the panelists recognized the opportunity each leader in investment management has to “represent women well.” Without diverse thinking, how can we meet the diverse needs of our clients?

-Janet M.

If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities at

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