Is finding our calling a possibility at Vanguard?

Over a year ago, my professor from Columbia Business School challenged me and my classmates to turn our jobs into a “calling” rather than a career. The advice was opportune given that we were all in our second year of business school; some of us deciding between offers, others finding the right match.

He gave examples where work was a ‘means-to-an-end’ for some, but for others it was about making an impact: Hospital janitors going out of their way to make patients feel at home, concrete finishers striving for the perfect pour.

My mind quickly jumped to my father, who found his calling as a Cardiologist early on. Even at 80 years old, he still can’t wait to get out of bed and head to the Louisiana VA hospital to treat our nation’s veterans.

The gauntlet was thrown back to me. I had six months to graduate and find my post-MBA employer. Was I going to settle for a career where I would hit the snooze button several times each morning, or a calling where I’d wake up like a child excited on Christmas morning?

Why Vanguard?

Upon graduating, my decision to choose Vanguard’s MBA Development Program hinged on whether I could turn this job into my very own calling, maybe even a place that would excite me enough that I would never hit the snooze button again. I wasn’t sure if I could see myself working at an investment management firm until 80 like my Dad at the VA, but I knew that Vanguard had a clear mission cultivated by its founder John Bogle: To take a stand for all investors, to treat them fairly, and to give them the best chance for investment success.

Moreover, employees signaled that the senior leadership here have always shared a constant focus on development and creating the right opportunities to help employees grow and succeed over the long term. But what struck me the most about Vanguard was that the MBA program was rotational, so I would get to experience three different roles before jumping in and committing. Could working at Vanguard potentially mean I would “never work another day in my life?”

Do what you’ll love, and you’ll never work another day in your life

Fast forward 15 months later; I am currently finishing up my third rotation in the MBA program at Vanguard. While it’s safe to say that I’ve done my best to make an impact and establish some sense of purpose, I’ve come to the realization that turning your career into a calling doesn’t simply happen overnight. It takes time, but there have been several ways that Vanguard has helped along the way:

Providing a never-ending learning opportunity

In my third and last rotation, I have had the opportunity to work on an international business assignment to help support the growth of our ETF business. I have travelled to Hong Kong, London and Malvern, where I worked side by side with the Portfolio Review Department, Sales and Advice teams. The learning opportunity was not just about understanding how our business strategies differ across regions; it was about understanding how to cultivate strong relationships and manage different working styles and viewpoints.

I also got to work with folks in Australia, Canada and Japan, waking up at odd hours to accommodate multiple time zones, and weaving in outside topics that seemed to transcend borders—sports, travel, and Vanguard’s mission!

Providing avenues to focus on self-development and well-being

Vanguard has always supported and encouraged me to work in the office that best suits my personal needs. I’ve been located at our robust Scottsdale location, and maintained close ties to Malvern (our headquarters) and London (our international headquarters). Working in the Scottsdale location allows me to stay close to family, enjoy over 300 days of sunny weather, and partake in outdoor activities—things that are important to my holistic well-being.

Some of my most inventive solutions to complex work-related problems are the result of long, thought-provoking hikes on Sedona’s Red Rocks, Camelback Mountains or time spent on the golf course. Surprisingly, productivity arises when you least suspect it!

Looking forward

While it’s unclear if every job will become someone’s lifelong calling, I know that there are steps we can take along the way to make our work a part of who we are, and that Vanguard will continue to support our endeavors in making a lasting impact on our investors and generating a culture of inclusivity. Ultimately, it’s up to us to continue to seek passion in how we serve…and while we may not all be collecting a salary after 80 years old, hopefully we can thank our Vanguard retirement accounts for keeping us afloat. 😉

-Shyam Y.

All investing is subject to risk, including possible loss of principal.

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