Vanguard innovation client facing crew

Everyday innovation from client-facing crew at Vanguard

If you were to ask most people to think of an innovative company, they would probably picture a tech start-up in Silicon Valley. That’s certainly what I used to imagine. But when I joined Vanguard, I learned that it doesn’t get much more innovative than our founder, Jack Bogle, creating the index mutual fund, resulting in the disruption of the financial services industry. A disruption that has continued over the last forty years.

Vanguard has continued to invest heavily in innovation through investments in technology, a relentless search for process improvement methodologies, and the opening of the Innovation Studio in Philadelphia.

But I would say the biggest commitment Vanguard has made towards innovation has been through its crew. One of the things I love most about working at Vanguard is that it recognizes the skills and abilities of its employees and empowers them to help promote meaningful change within their departments. Vanguard offers its crew multiple channels to brainstorm, share ideas, and innovate. For example, it sponsors hackathon events, which give crew a setting in which to present creative well-planned ideas to some of our most influential leaders. Vanguard has even created innovation teams to pilot new ideas and technology throughout various levels and departments.

Vanguard innovation client facing crew

Innovation Team

I am privileged to have the opportunity to lead one of those innovation teams. I lead a team of engaged client-facing sales crew who also specialize in driving change and innovation within their organization. Members of my team utilize their client interactions and work to create new processes to help improve the experience for clients and crew.

When a member of my team comes up with an idea or proposal, we work together to determine if it is something we can implement immediately, or if there is an opportunity to pilot the idea to see if the process or technology would benefit everyone at a broader level.

Crew that are a part of the innovation team have the opportunity to learn and develop unique skills that aren’t always as prevalent in other roles. These include conceptual thinking, project management, and presentation skills.

Vanguard innovation client facing crew

Culture of Innovation

I believe the key to fostering a culture of innovation relies heavily on mindset. The concept of innovation can seem ambiguous, scary, and out of reach. As a leader, I turn innovation into something that is a part of my team’s everyday norms and expectations.

Here are three main ways my crew are afforded the ability to be more innovative:

  1. Crew on the innovation team are provided an hour of “innovation time” each week to focus on brainstorming and developing their ideas.
  2. Crew are encouraged to utilize our newly established “Ideation Room”, a space constructed to maximize creative thinking and collaboration.
  3. Our leadership team sponsors quarterly “Pitch Day” competitions that empower our crew to team up and present their ideas. The winning team gets to see their idea come to life as it is piloted and potentially implemented across the organization.

Vanguard innovation client facing crew

While each member of my team takes advantage of the opportunities listed above, it is important to note that this mindset of being a positive change advocate isn’t unusual for Vanguard crew. I would argue it is an instinct most crew have. Then again, why wouldn’t it be? We work at a company founded on innovation.

-Jeff M.

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