To wrap up National Career Development month, Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer Greg Davis offers insights into key moments from his time at Vanguard.
One of my favorite parts of National Career Development month has been reading other crew members’ meaningful career experiences. Kristin L. shared the importance of gratitude towards those who helped shaped her successes. I learned how Amy M.’s military background drove her accomplishments in civilian life. A realization about company culture led Dan K.to become a longtime crew member. And Jordan W. expressed how a supportive work environment can lead to significant achievements.
Now, I would like to continue the trend and share the moments that influenced my professional journey:
Knowing when to let go.
During the early part of my career, I was leading a small team of traders in our Fixed Income Group and it was my first time as a manager. Since I was accustomed to more technically driven responsibilities, I knew I had to shift my mindset to a people focus. A great boss gave me some very perceptive advice, “When your traders can do the job 80% as well as you, let them do it.” I realized I had to learn when to give up some control. It was an eye-opening moment.
It can be tough as a leader to let go at times, but I found that this approach has multiple benefits: it frees you up to tackle other more strategic issues that need your attention and it shows your team that you have confidence in their abilities. While it may be faster to do some tasks yourself in the short-run, teaching someone to do it on their own is a better long term strategy for the entire team. True leadership requires the humility to accept handing over the reins.
On successful teams, each member knows they’re essential.
Another memorable moment happened when I began working under Tim Buckley, Vanguard’s Chief Investment Officer at the time. Tim is very forward looking and he taught me to be deliberate about building the right team – it should be composed of talented collaborators who have the ability to run together towards a common goal. Because of Tim’s example, I often stress the importance of developing people, it’s a critical element for long-term investment success. But what do you do when you discover a member of the team isn’t performing at the right level?
Ultimately it comes down to continuously growing as a team and acknowledging when someone needs additional coaching. I have found that being candid is appreciated, even if it is an uncomfortable conversation initially. We should always remember that giving feedback enables someone to understand their strengths and opportunity areas, which are critical to their long term success.
Always consider what needs to happen now to be successful in the future.
As a final thought, I want to share some advice around another big moment – choosing your next role. As you assess your career goals and dreams, ask yourself three questions:
What are you passionate about?
What are you good at?
Which job leverages both of these?
When you find a position that combines your interests and talents, you have found your dream job. But, the key to answering these questions effectively is self-awareness. You may be passionate about music, for example, but unable to sing a single note on key. Identify how much time and energy you want to invest in developing skills before pursuing a role or industry.
A word of thanks.
I am thankful to have had opportunities to serve in multiple roles in areas that I was very passionate about and that aligned well with my skill-set. But it wouldn’t have been the same without the right team, the right leaders, and the right company.
Kicking off National Career Development Month with gratitude
During the month of November, many Americans begin looking forward to Thanksgiving and reflecting on those things that have brought them gratitude. In recognition of the holiday, some practice “thanks-living,” the act of recording at least one thing you are thankful for in your life for 30 days. The intention is to allow us to focus on all the blessings we have in our lives and appreciate the positive.
In addition to a time of thanks, November is also National Career Development month. As we can all probably attest, the term “career development” can have different meanings to different people. What we can likely agree on is that career development has a considerable impact on how we feel about our jobs, which is significant since we spend the better part of our waking hours at work.
As the new leader of Crew Development at Vanguard, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on both National Career Development Month and the many, many people that have made my own career such a rich and fulfilling one. I have seen time and again the benefits of showing gratitude towards those who had an impact on my career development. I also believe that my mindset of gratitude has made me a better colleague and leader overall.
With those thoughts in mind I wanted to share my thanks on this November 1st with:
My parents: Without their unwavering support of my education, most of my career achievements would not have been possible.
Minette B: My first boss out of college, for teaching me the value of candor at the onset of my career.
Anthony C: My Organizational Development “partner in crime” (or colleague) for many years, for his willingness to have an open dialogue with me on so many things; strategy, change management, diversity in the workplace, leadership standards, and much more that have made me a better leader and person.
Jennifer K: For a hand-written note she gave me when I was leaving Kohler Company that I will never forget. Just thinking of her words still gives me goose bumps & cemented my desire to help people achieve fulfilling careers.
Laura K: My leader and role model at Kohler Company, for being a great example of what it really means to be a senior business leader (that just happens to be in HR).
Doug H: Of Whirlpool Corporation, for his selfless support of my career goals and unwavering belief in my abilities.
Tamara T: For her kindness, patience, and candor as my on-boarding buddy, who has been invaluable as I assimilate to a new role, company, and industry.
Lynda R: For seeing potential in me and being willing to take a chance on an external candidate for such an important role at Vanguard.
Richard L: Who is truly my better half, for his enduring support, love, and encouragement while also helping me make sure I keep my feet on the ground.
While writing this post it struck me how difficult it was to keep my list of thanks to a number where the proverbial Oscars music didn’t start up and I lost my audience… I consider myself fortunate that there are so many people who have had a tremendous impact on me in my career, even beyond this list. I am reminded of a simple quote from Margaret Cousins: “Appreciation can change a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” With this in mind, on this November 1st I am asking all of you to challenge yourself in two ways:
Think through and THANK those who have had a positive impact on your career.
Ask yourself what actions you can take to be on someone else’s list next November.
When I started out on my own after college, like so many people I furnished my apartment with items passed down from family members—drinking glasses from my grandmother, dishes from my aunt, lamps from my parents, and a well-used sofa from my older brother. It was a great new adventure as I had my own place and I was now a “wise, all knowing adult.” One day some friends visited and laughed at the lamps. I knew the lamps were older, but they were still cool-looking and in good shape. But my friends were actually joking about the plastic wrap that was on the lamp shades. You know what I am talking about—that protective plastic covering that is on lamps in the store when purchased (and that remained on those lamps all those years). I was perplexed and thought, “EVERYONE has the original plastic wrap on their lamps. At least everyone from where I grew up left the plastic on. What’s wrong with these friends for thinking this was odd?” It was eye opening for me that, in fact, not everyone leaves the plastic wrap on lamp shades. Who knew?!?
I look back on this story with humor and great pride. Those covered lamp shades linked to the history of the people where I grew up in central New York State. The area had been settled by European immigrants who came to the United States to establish a better life for themselves and for their children. They worked hard to make it in the U.S. and experienced the Great Depression. Their past financial struggles gave them an appreciation for preserving and protecting their assets. Those lamp shades were a reflection of the culture and the values of my upbringing.
We all have our unique ways of doing things based on who we are and our previous experiences. Sometimes we may feel that our approach is similar to everyone else, and other times we may feel like the outsider, not fully understanding the norms of the group we are in. The opportunity for this variety of feelings is even more likely at work where we have the incredible opportunity to be around colleagues who come from various backgrounds and experiences. It’s the intertwining and interaction of all of us and all of our backgrounds that help create a diverse and inclusive environment.
For me a key element of inclusion is simply having a conversation and getting to know more about others, and being open to understanding and appreciating different approaches. I ask questions and try to get to know others and their story. I may not always fully understand or even agree, but I always walk away with a better appreciation. And, most often, I find I have more in common with other people than I could have imagined. In times I have felt like the outsider, I have always appreciated when someone took the time to welcome me, get know more about me, or seek my opinion. It was through these actions of others that I felt a greater sense of belonging and comradery.
So, the next time you run into someone with “plastic wrap on their lamp shade,” be curious. Strike up a conversation, and seek to know more about them. If you are like me, you will be amazed by what you learn.
-Ken Oyer (The Vanguard Group, Diversity and Inclusion, PA)
Dear Future C2C Intern: An Open Letter to Future C2C Interns
Dear Future C2C Intern,
Congratulations and welcome to the experience of a lifetime! And truly, welcome. You should be very proud of yourself. It has not been an easy journey, but you have been resilient. In a way, you might even consider yourself lucky – but, as Seneca put it, luck is simply when preparedness meets opportunity. So consider yourself prepared, and remember to make the most out of this exciting opportunity!
I know how you must be feeling. Anxious, nervous, uncertain, excited. It’s normal, I promise. As a previous C2C intern, I can relate to all your worries and emotions. In fact, I felt the same way, and I am here to tell you that you have nothing to worry about. I still remember my first day, walking into Majestic and thinking, “I am in way over my head.” But I also remember looking to my right to see my intern manager smile and genuinely ask me how my morning was. This is because Vanguard cares about each individual crew member and views all of its crew members as a long term investment. The vibes of genuineness and integrity that you got during your interview process? Totally real. Everyone wants to help you, whether just to guide you to your cubicle or to give you career advice.
You may have never worked for a company like Vanguard, and that is okay. If I could give one piece of advice to myself when I started, I wish I was more receptive to learning from the start. Don’t be afraid to ask questions: about your projects, about Vanguard, anything! In my first couple of days, I learned that Vanguard has a very acronym-driven environment. Random acronyms were thrown around like BV@SS, CLI, SMA, and a ton of others. When you are not sure what these mean, the conversation is useless and very hard to follow. I started understanding so much more when I asked what each acronym meant. Life is a journey, and you must never stop learning or developing. It can be uncomfortable and scary at first but remember that growth and comfort never co-exist. Always try to seek the opportunities instead of hiding behind the fear of failing.
This is a big opportunity to expand your network – there are other interns with different backgrounds and experiences than you, and now is your time to learn from them. Perhaps the most daunting aspect when starting was that I knew all of these people surrounding me were just as qualified as me, so leverage this knowledge all around you and form relationships. Try to meet up with anyone you want to get to know better for lunch or outside of work. This is not only a great chance to make new friends and network, but it is also a great way to relax and de-stress. Meet up with other Crew members too. Managers, VSP alums, and even senior leaders are more than happy to spend time with you to help you learn more about their careers and whether Vanguard is right for you. Make it a goal to reach out and make meaningful relationships with the people around you this summer!
Hold on tight because the summer will bring high and low tides. Just remember to be in the present. Embrace the now. You’re the captain of your own ship, so start Vanguarding.
It’s that time of year again! The summer is winding down and the start of a new school year is upon us. For many students, this means going back to class, internships, exams, and assignments. For me, it is the most exciting time of year! As the Head of University and Recruiting partnerships, I look forward to this time of year because it’s a new beginning. The start of another recruiting season opens the opportunity to meet aspiring students and introduce them to Vanguard.
Many people have asked me what makes someone stand out in the recruiting process. I wish I could say there was one secret thing that guarantees someone a chance to get noticed, but there really isn’t. It’s a culmination of things. Just like getting accepted to school, receiving that coveted job offer starts with having a plan. It involves visiting your career management office early to seek counsel from an advisor, and attending career fairs as an underclassmen to practice speaking with recruiters. Ambitious students attend company overviews to learn more about their industry. They join student clubs and assume leadership roles where they get to converse with employer sponsors. They write thank you notes after a mock interview. Successful students network with their peers and learn about diverse work experiences. They also take the time to craft a superstar LinkedIn profile. I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. Getting noticed takes a lot of work. Although there’s no magic recipe, hard work often pays off with a job offer. Trust me!
Don’t wait, get out there now. That means freshmen, too! If Vanguard is an organization you want to notice you, check out our calendar of events. We will be all over the country this year on college campuses, in the community, and back at our many office locations hosting special events for students to visit Vanguard. We look forward to the opportunity to meet you.
Tis the season!
-Karen Fox, University & Recruiting Partnerships Manager