Internal Audit: diverse work, a welcoming team, and time for my son
When I started my career over 10 years ago, I had recently graduated college and was thrilled to have a job and steady paycheck. I followed most of my friends into a career in external auditing, performing IT audits. Shortly after I started my career, the stock market crashed. As I saw people around me struggling to find jobs, I felt fortunate to have my position in a company where I was able to learn, grow, and travel all across the country. However, after 7 years of traveling between clients and working busy schedules, my personal life had changed – I was getting ready to marry and start a family and knew I needed a more predictable work schedule.
Although I knew that the career change was the right decision for me, it was still nerve-wracking. I loved where I worked, my colleagues, and the variety of work on my plate. I was worried that the new position would be boring and it was daunting to think about rebuilding my reputation again with people who didn’t know me.
Now after 3 years at Vanguard I can say that the change was the best decision I could have made. During my time here, I have never audited the same process twice and am able to get a much deeper understanding of the processes than I was able to do in external auditing. I am afforded the opportunity to learn about all aspects of Vanguard’s business, network with management across Vanguard, and constantly learn new skills. Additionally, my leaders frequently give me stretch opportunities to stay challenged.
I worried about rebuilding my reputation in a new company, however, within the first week I realized that Vanguard really appreciated my prior experiences – team members asked for my opinion and saw me as a valued member of the team. The culture at Vanguard is unlike any culture I have seen in all the companies I’ve worked with in my prior auditing experience. I have made some great friends in my time here and can truly say that I enjoy coming to work.
I appreciated the career change the most when my son, Wesley, was born 21 months ago. I remember coming back to work after maternity leave and about a week in, I received the dreaded call from daycare that my son had a fever. My team was so understanding and I was able to go pick him up and work from home. I appreciated the flexibility I was offered while still being able to keep my work progressing. Nothing can match being home in the evenings to have dinner as a family and to put my son to bed each night.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our Internal Audit career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
As a newly minted college graduate, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew I wanted to be successful, and that meant I needed to build experience at a reputable and well-known company.
I had grown up reading The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing, so when I received an offer to join Vanguard in Scottsdale, I enthusiastically accepted the opportunity. I had enough of the frigid Michigan winters.
I started my Vanguard career as a Client Relationship Associate in 2014, answering inbound phone calls and assisting clients with placing trades, resetting passwords, and educating them on Vanguard products. To be honest, I saw my first role at Vanguard as a stepping stone to somewhere else. I never thought I would stay.
Like many ambitious and naive college graduates, I defined success as making a six figure income in a stereotypically cool job like investment banking or tech. If I achieved that, I would know that I “made it”.
And yet, here I am, four years later. Why did I stay? What changed?
In my first year, I discovered that I loved educating clients on Vanguard mutual funds. There is a special fuzzy feeling that comes from using my skills to educate and help others, and I wanted to chase that feeling. I thought to myself, “Where can I do more of that?”
As I gained experience at Vanguard, I began to plot my next career move. I knew that financial advisors typically make a good living doing meaningful work, so I decided to pursue the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) designation.
Vanguard Personal Advisor Services was still in its infancy at the time, so I explored opportunities outside of Vanguard, but was disappointed to learn that a vast majority of advisory positions were sales driven. I was attracted to Vanguard Personal Advisor Services compared to other advisory firms because, as a salaried advisor, I didn’t have to worry about prospecting or earning commission-based compensation. The only thing I would need to focus on is making the best investment decisions for my clients. For many outside advisors looking in, this is the dream (trust me). And after about two years working hard in inbound phone roles and passing the CFP® exam, I joined Personal Advisor Services.
Vanguard has a noble mission: “To take a stand for all investors, to treat them fairly, and to give them the best chance for investment success.” As an advisor, I get to live that mission, and this is truly rewarding in the sense that I find purpose doing something meaningful and worthwhile. You know that special fuzzy feeling I was chasing? I found it in Vanguard Advice! I know it’s a cliché, but I love what I do here. You can’t put a price on that.
Furthermore, freedom to travel, especially in my 20s, has been an invaluable benefit of working for Vanguard. In the last two years alone, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to Thailand, Vietnam, France, Spain, Canada, and Japan. Vanguard provides a generous amount of flexible, guilt-free paid-time-off (PTO). With our collaborative culture, my supportive team allows me to treat PTO as a time to completely forget about work. If I worked for a different company that based my income on sales performance, I wouldn’t have been able to take the amazing trips that I have.
As I approach my four year anniversary in August, I can’t yet say that “I made it”, but I couldn’t be happier with where I am. I have redefined success as maximizing my fulfillment. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past four years, it’s that success is not all about the paycheck. Rather, it is mostly about finding rewarding work towards a worthwhile cause. Needless to say, I’ve found that at Vanguard.
After only a few years of working, I found myself sitting in bumper to bumper traffic one morning, miserable and on the verge of tears. I was tired of spending two to three hours a day in my car. If there was an accident or bad weather, it would destroy my evening and I would get home at night frustrated and exhausted.
Everything changed when I was encouraged to take advantage of Vanguard’s great commuter benefits.
Jumping on the train
Taking the train to work from my home in Philadelphia was a life changing experience. I ordered a train pass online easily and it was shipped right to my house. I love my walk to the train station, breathing the fresh air and getting a little bit of exercise in the morning.
The second I step off the train at the Paoli station near our headquarters in Malvern, PA, Vanguard’s free shuttles are waiting to take me to the office.
Being more productive
Beyond the convenience, I find the time that I spend every morning and evening on the train to be invaluable. If I have a work assignment that I need to finish, I just bring my laptop along with me and work on the train. I’ve read numerous books, listened to podcasts and even had time to plan my upcoming wedding.
Saving the planet
As if the benefits to my personal life weren’t enough, there are also benefits to the planet. Light rail systems produce 62% less greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile than an average single-occupancy vehicle (SOV), according to the Federal Transit Administration. Beyond the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, driving less minimizes the pollutants that cause smog, uses less natural resources, and minimizes congestion on our nation’s busiest roadways.
Having the opportunity to take the train to work every day has made me a more productive and all around happier person. As I sit on the train each day, I love to think about the positive impacts that I and my fellow Vanguard train commuters are having on the planet.
Vanguard’s support in my family’s adoption experience
Vanguard has an inspiring mission to help investors of all types, and I’ve been happy to be a part of it for more than ten years. I have also found Vanguard to be a place that values employees with families of all types. I experienced this during the adoption of two of my children.
Adopting a child can be a challenging and very expensive process —agency fees, social worker costs, legal and government requirements, and many other things add up. We benefited greatly from Vanguard’s Adoption Assistance Program, which reimbursed a significant part of these costs. Additionally, the Parental Leave benefit provides six weeks of paid leave for all parents, including adoptive parents, which was incredibly helpful to not only finalize the adoption, but also for us to be able to spend time together at home as a new family.
Me and my new daughter
I have used Vanguard’s Adoption Assistance Program twice. My wife and I had adopted our oldest daughter as a baby when I first joined Vanguard, and we also had a biological son, but felt we had room in our family for one more.
We knew there were some children who were older or had special needs and were still waiting to have a family of their own. Last year, we adopted our seven-year-old daughter from China.
She didn’t speak English at the time of her adoption, but the orphanage caretakers told us through translators how happy she was to hear the news: “…she looks so excited, she keeps saying, I have a mom and dad!” Can you imagine being seven, without a mom and dad, then finding out you do have a family, and they are coming to take you home?
We spent two weeks in China and took our older two children, then 10 and 11, along with us to meet our daughter and bring her home. Our new “mèimei” (younger sister) was shy at first, but quickly showed that she had a size 10 personality in a size 7 body. I can still picture her marching through the busy city of Guangzhou cheerily calling out to hotel staff, “Nǐhǎo!” (hello) with her family struggling to keep up with her. Spotting a moth on a window, she shouts to her new family, “Jiě jie! Guò lái! Nǐ kàn!” (Sister, come here, look!)
The process was challenging, requiring a lot of trust and faith from her, us, and others, that somehow it will all work out right. In many ways, we pursue things in life that are difficult, and they often end up being worth the effort more than anything else. This is one of them.
First meeting her
During my leave and return, I also experienced an incredible demonstration of support from my work colleagues and management team who were happy along with me and had so many words of encouragement and ensured a supportive and flexible environment as I took time away to go bring our daughter home.
I appreciate that Vanguard values employees holistically and recognizes families can be formed in various ways, not only in traditional ones. By supporting adoptive parents through the Adoption Assistance Program and Parental Leave Policy, Vanguard makes it possible for more people to choose adoption. For the crew members who have room in their hearts and homes to be a family to a child who needs one, I hope they will use Vanguard’s benefits and any other resources to adopt.
Has the universe ever given you a sign? An unmistakable, it’s-time-to-act type of signal? Well, as I was sitting at Vanguard’s Leadership Symposium in Philadelphia last fall, a topic hit my radar for the third time in the span of a few months. And since good things come in threes (right?), I committed then and there to take action – and my kids and I are glad I did. Yup, in this Vanguard blog, I’m talking about my kids. Let me explain…
I started my Vanguard career in April 2001 working in our Legal department in Malvern, PA. A lawyer by training, I was initially our “intellectual property guy,” though over the course of 9 years, my responsibilities grew and evolved until I was leading our Corporate Legal Services group and reporting to our General Counsel.
Because Vanguard encourages its crew to have a breadth of experiences, I had begun exploring leadership opportunities outside of our Legal department and outside of our PA campus. So in 2010, I moved to Vanguard’s Institutional business and, at the same time, my family and I (wife, four kids, one dog) moved to Scottsdale, Arizona. I’m very grateful to Vanguard for the fantastic opportunity to grow! Moving outside of my comfort zone work-wise and moving across the country were huge changes for us as a family. In many ways, these shared experiences of change brought us closer together.
Of course, I’ve always been involved in my kids’ lives – reading to them, playing games, doing yard work together, teaching them to drive (two so far!), etc. And I’ve coached all four of them on various youth soccer teams – I’ve lost count, but something like 18 teams overall. My work at Vanguard was always flexible enough that I could do these. But as the kids were growing older, I was getting worried that I was missing something. Enter Stew Friedman…
Stewart Friedman is a professor at Wharton and author of several books on the topic of having a richer life by integrating elements of home and work. I’m summarizing, but his view is that you can do real-world exercises that improve performance and increase your leadership capacity by better integrating all parts of your life. It’s a powerful and motivating message. I knew Vanguard wanted me (and all its leaders and crew) to have a richer life. I remember receiving this message three distinct times – at a Vanguard executive development program, during a conversation with other Vanguard leaders, and at the Leadership Symposium (where Professor Friedman himself presented!). It was time to act.
One of the things I did was ask each of my children to write down a handful of things they would like to do with me, just the two of us. They all came up with fantastic ideas, fun and interesting things – why hadn’t I done this sooner?!? My 17 year-old daughter, Maddie, had a few ideas – among them were to learn about money and investing, and for the two of us to read a book together and then discuss, like a book club. So with Stew Friedman’s guidance, we “integrated” these two ideas and decided to read a book together about money and investing!
Maddie and I read The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko. Though written in the mid-1990s, its core lessons still ring true – the keys to financial independence involve living within your means, being frugal, and spending time on budgeting and planning, among others. They were great lessons for Maddie and helpful reminders for me. And wonderfully aligned to Vanguard’s investment philosophy and mission as an organization.
Here’s what Maddie had to say about the experience: “I’ve had a lot of fun doing the book club with Dad. When he asked what we could do together, I thought of books because we both like to read, and thought about financial things because I don’t know a lot about it and he works at Vanguard. Now, not only has he taught me about managing money, but we’ve had some meaningful and grown-up conversations beyond that, too. It brought us closer together and, to me, reinforced the value of reaching out to those you love.”
It worked so well that Maddie and I are now on our 3rd book, Mindset by Carol S. Dweck. We are having a wonderful time exploring and connecting over these books – and discussing life in general. I’m a lucky and super-proud dad, and I’m glad for the opportunity to reflect on that with Father’s Day just around the corner. Thank you universe (okay, really thank you Stew Friedman and Vanguard) for giving me that unmistakable sign!
What is important to you? Is it your career? Your family? Personal hobbies? For me, my best days are when I am able to dedicate time to both work and home. With so much going on in my life, there’s a reason I’ve chosen to make Vanguard my (professional) home for more than a decade – balance. My role with Vanguard offers me the ability to balance my personal needs with professional expectations, because of the mutual understanding that there are priorities from both sides.
For example, my wife has been very understanding on the late nights when I have things to finish at the office. My supervisor is understanding when I have to call off work because my three year old is sick. There have also been occasions when both my supervisor and my wife are understanding that I requested a day off to play golf or go snowboarding. So, how am I able to feel productive and still have a personal life? It takes a blend of many different values…
I remember going for a run around campus during my first summer at Vanguard. I was returning to my building when I came across a parking lot with a basketball court. As it turns out, Vanguard has recess! Every day that it’s warm and the court is dry, 8-20 crew members meet to play some pickup basketball. After that fateful run, I changed my lunchtime routine so I could join the others on the court. Every day, I feel like I’m in 3rd grade heading out to play with my friends. It’s such a great way to relieve stress and clear my head, and it’s amazing how something as small as just having a basketball court on campus has an impact towards someone’s wellbeing. Vanguard understands that.
I was three years into my career when my wife gave birth to our first son. My supervisor at the time helped me plan to take a week of PTO starting the day that my wife went into labor. Not only was I encouraged to take the time, but everything went smoothly while I was out. Four years later, we had another son, and I took another week of PTO. Two years after that, things had changed – Vanguard was now offering paternity leave. I was able to take six weeks to spend with my family – a time that made a world of difference in getting my family settled.
In my experience, Vanguard is an extremely flexible company to work for. But first, you must learn how to do your job and do it well. Once you have established yourself as a productive crew member, then look to gain flexibility in the work place. Which brings us to…
I was lucky to get my first job with Vanguard. I was hired in 2008 during the economic recession and jobs in the financial industry were difficult to come by. It was a competitive time and I knew I had to work very hard to distinguish myself as a top performer. This feeling of constant focus on performance is something it took time to get used to. I had worked a few jobs since college, but none that had long term career possibilities. That was not the case.
I embraced this pressure and strived to be a distinguished crew member at Vanguard. In order to do that, I had to hold myself to a high standard. Sometimes that includes working late or coming in early. Sometimes I have to skip basketball during lunch. Sometimes I can’t make it to yoga class in the morning. I have missed dinner at the in-laws (not the worst thing). I know that the more I put into my work, the more I achieve. Finding balance during both the busy times and lulls at work is my goal.
Flash back to 2012. I felt ready for a promotion after having spent a few years in my position and receiving positive feedback. I knew that I would get my chance if I was just patient. After discussing opportunities with my supervisor, I learned that management would not be backfilling the position that could lead to a promotion for me. After I had this information, I knew it was time to seek other opportunities at Vanguard.
I went from Vanguard’s Institutional Investor Group to Vanguard’s Financial Advisor Services. The new department was definitely a change of pace: I had to learn a whole new system, new processes, and different terms. Once I was up to speed, I used this as an opportunity to develop myself professionally. I took on extra responsibility. I established new connections and kept in touch with my current network.
Luckily my patience paid off. Not long after I left my old department, the management team opened the position that I wanted. I had been ready for this promotion for years, but I did not let that stop me from preparing for the interview process. I knew what people had done in the past in that role and knew what I wanted to change going forward. I am currently still working in that position and consistently find new challenges and ways to grow within the department.
So what do I want you to take away from my story? First off, good things come to those who work hard. Also, it is important to balance your hard work with times of relaxation. Balancing relaxation with hard work does not always go according to plan and it is important to be flexible when things are not going your way. Patience pays off: when the right opportunity comes along, it will feel like things were just meant to be.
In honor of Mother’s Day, we’re featuring a series of blogs dedicated to working mothers and their experience at Vanguard. In this blog, Schuyler T. discusses working at Vanguard and what happened when her baby came earlier than expected.
I started at Vanguard as a Client Relationship Specialist answering phone calls from our clients. To be honest, I took the job because my Dad informed me that if I wanted to remain living under his roof I would have to get a job. Considering I wasn’t entirely sure if he was kidding or not, I accepted the job and started a few weeks after graduating from Bucknell University. In my mind, I thought this job would satisfy my Dad’s request and allow me the time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life…
Finding the flexibility I needed
Thirteen years later, I am still with Vanguard and have had an opportunity to grow both personally and professionally. Today, I am a Manager who sits on the Talent Acquisition Leadership team, but more importantly, I am the mom to two great kids and the wife to an amazing husband who is also a crew member. I love my job and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, in fact, I would go as far to say I love being a working mom. There is no secret formula to create a balance or even a magic number of how much time should be spent at home vs. work. Instead, it is all about flexibility.
Vanguard has offered me the flexibility that I need to be the best mom to my kids and succeed in my career. Flexibility comes in many shapes and sizes – some weeks I may put more time in at work to finish a project. Other weeks I may need to put in more time at home to be there for my family. Either way, I have never felt that I had to choose between work and family.
“I didn’t have time to come up with elaborate Halloween costumes – a quick search around the house and voila! Halloween costumes and happy kids!”
Coming back to work
As a new mom to two, I had 4 months of paid time to spend with my newborn son and help my daughter adjust to being a big sister. This time was invaluable to me and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I was able to enjoy my leave and bond with my family. And guess what? Work didn’t stop, and I didn’t get any emails or phone calls. The only communication I had with my team was me sharing pictures of my adorable (I may be biased) kiddos. After my 4 months of leave, I was ready to come back to work. I knew my kids were in great hands with our childcare provider as their days were filled with learning, socialization, art, and songs. Much more exciting than a day spent with mom. In fact, for a few years every time I shared with my daughter that tomorrow was Saturday, she would sigh and respond with “that’s nice, but I can’t wait for Monday”. Comments like these validate that, just like me, my kids have their own lives too. They have friends and activities at school that they get excited about, just like I have projects and initiatives that I am excited about at Vanguard.
Working full time and being a full time mom is not easy, and it’s definitely not glamourous (so what if my house isn’t perfectly tidy, my garden needs weeding, or we sometimes have pizza for dinner) but I wouldn’t change it for the world. In my opinion, I get the best of both worlds and they complement each other quite nicely. Every day I have the opportunity to challenge myself at work, which keeps me driven and energized, and there are still so many things that I aim to do with my career. I know Vanguard and my family will support me every step of the way.
In early 2015, I was suffering. Years of working a desk job and a sedentary lifestyle had taken their toll and my health was worsening. My blood pressure was way too high, and gout attacks frequently made it agonizing to walk. Sleep apnea and acid reflux meant I rarely got a decent night’s rest. At 41, I wasn’t too young to be at risk of a heart attack (or worse). It was time to do something. Lucky for me, Vanguard has an amazing wellness staff here to help – at Vanguard’s fitness center called ShipShape.
Small steps and big changes
I started with baby steps, like joining ShipShape’s six-week group weight-loss challenge and hitting the gym regularly. Encouraged by our specialist, I kept a food diary and changed my eating habits. I walked on the treadmill for a half-hour. I used the stairs instead of the elevator to get to my desk on the third floor. At the gym, the ShipShape team greeted me by name almost immediately, which built up my sense of belonging, as well as the accountability that I needed to make this a habit. They have been with me every step of the way.
Jumping to the next level
As time went on, I gravitated to group exercise classes, where I did things I never thought possible. I lifted a barbell for the first time in my life – then did 800 reps in 45 minutes. I punched and kicked through a cardio workout. I swung a kettlebell. I jumped on a BIG box. And then I did it all again. (At home, I annoyed my kids by threatening living-room burpees. Hey, I’m still a dad.)
The results came almost immediately. I lost a tremendous amount of weight that first year, but just as important, was developing the routine and the commitment to make this a lifestyle change. My family tracked my weekly weigh-ins. I had to buy new clothes! My team at work noticed. People who hadn’t seen me in a while were surprised by my transformation. “You did all this at Vanguard?” more than one person asked me.
It takes a (supportive) village
Make no mistake, this can be hard work, but the ShipShape staff are there to guide you through it. Austin has us pedaling for our lives in Group Cycling (but you don’t notice it, with such a fun soundtrack). Shannon doesn’t skip any of the toughest kickboxing choreography. Brandon and Chelsea sweat it out with us in every class they lead. I can’t argue with the results! There’s nothing more energizing and motivating than pushing yourself to the limit while surrounded by dedicated crew focused on a common goal. I have strengthened my Vanguard network, made new friends, and even found my current job through a workout buddy. And if I haven’t been around in a while, someone notices.
For me, fitness just fits
I have a favorite shirt that I wear to the gym – it has the words MAKE HISTORY emblazoned in big red letters on a gray background. It was a Father’s Day gift from my wife and three children a few years back. This shirt is the symbol of a miracle. I wear it to celebrate how far I’ve traveled on my wellness journey and to remind myself why I so often visit ShipShape. The center is always there for me – I can go before breakfast or at lunchtime, which suits my family’s busy schedule. I know the specialists will greet me with a smile and that I’ll see friends and might try something new. Three years later, my ShipShape family is a significant part of who I am as a Vanguard crew member. I couldn’t be more grateful.
Today, I’m more present and available for my Vanguard team, my peers, and most importantly, my wife and kids. I stay active, and my health has dramatically improved. I find that I contribute more at work and at home. So, what’s next for me? I plan to keep making history.
Like most adults, my life is full – both professionally (projects, meetings, deadlines) and personally (family activities, pets, hobbies). Normally I feel pretty in control, but recently I felt like I had reached a point where I found myself swirling – I was constantly switching tasks, and never really finishing anything because I was distracted by everything else I had to do. Worst of all, I wasn’t really having a positive impact in any facet of my life. I felt like I was racing through everything and accomplishing nothing. It was exhausting and miserable. I knew I needed a change.
Mindfulness – the practice of maintaining a heightened awareness of the present to increase focus – is being used more and more by people who seek deep concentration, including professional athletes, CEOs, and mathematicians. And it’s gotten a lot of traction right here at Vanguard – crew have multiple opportunities and resources to incorporate mindfulness into their lives. I started researching the options available to me – there are long-term programs, small scale overviews, a mindfulness website, and more. As I read about these programs and resources, I was skeptical. I wasn’t sure if mindfulness was really for me or if the activities were worth my time. What if I went through an entire program and realized I wasn’t interested? I was already busy enough. Also, the idea of meditating at my desk in front of my co-workers seemed a little…odd.
So I decided to start small, with a Mindfulness Drop-In Session. One day a week, I could attend a 30 minute class with a trained professional and learn basic meditation techniques. I figured this would be an easy way to get started – and if I hated it, I never had to do it again. The sessions are optional, which means that I can drop in as often or as little as I want.
The first time, I admit I was a bit nervous. Was everyone else in the room an expert? Would I be lost and look foolish? Fortunately for me, that wasn’t the case. A certified meditation expert took us through some simple exercises and made the session very easy to follow. It was a relief to find out the sessions are quite casual, so I don’t have to share anything or even close my eyes if I don’t want to. It was also anonymous; there were no introductions, no goofy icebreakers, just a few encouraging words from the instructor as we practiced meditation.
Seeing a change
After attending a few sessions, I noticed some improvements. It was little things, like feeling more aware in meetings or being able to breathe comfortably when I got stressed. It was nice to notice that my shoulders weren’t up by my ears at 5pm anymore. I will admit that initially I thought it was a weird thing for an employer to offer, but now that I see how this ties in to health and wellness, it makes sense. This program isn’t for everyone, but for me, it made a difference. Best of all, I can tell the changes are noticed by those who matter most to me – my family, clients, and co-workers. After all, what good is having a fulfilling career and a wonderful family if you’re not fully there to appreciate it?
With National Adoption Day coming up, a crew member shares his story of adopting his son and how Vanguard supported him.
All of us have days that remain special throughout our lives, and for me, March 15, 2011 tops that list. This was the day my wife and I flew from Philadelphia to Chicago, checked into a small hotel in Oak Park, and walked around the corner to an adoption agency we’d been working with for over a year. This was the day we met our son.
He’d been born just days earlier, and we’d arrived in Chicago to make this bundle of joy a part of our family. I will never forget holding my son for the first time. I wept openly, as did my wife. Not only because we were happy, but because it had been a long road to parenthood. Vanguard played a significant role in making that day a reality.
I joined Vanguard in 2006, just after completing my MBA at the College of William & Mary. During grad school, my wife and I decided the time was right to start a family, yet parenthood remained elusive. My first few years as a crew member, I held a client-facing role, and those days were a mix of both client visits and constant trips to a fertility specialist. Yet despite years of treatments, doctors, and hospitals, we eventually realized a biological child was simply not meant to be.
Once we agreed to pursue adoption, we refocused on the desire to become parents. I was thankful not only to be surrounded by supportive colleagues and leaders at Vanguard, but that the company offered financial support as well.
The adoption process brought its own challenges, along with a multitude of decisions. Do we adopt domestically or internationally? Baby or older child? What about children with special needs? Plus, adoption laws vary from state to state. What was best for us?
On top of that, there were home studies, discussions with therapists, plus numerous adoption agencies to consider. The sheer number of decisions can be overwhelming, and navigating everything became a full-time job in and of itself. Eventually, a birth mother here in Pennsylvania chose us for her daughter. We were elated. I planned to take time off to spend with my new child, developed a coverage plan for my clients while I was out, and let my colleagues and teammates know. Unfortunately, the birth mother changed her mind about the adoption 3 days after we were given custody of the baby. Per Pennsylvania law, birth mothers have up to 30 days to change their mind after an adoption, so my wife and I had to give the child back to her birth mother.
My Vanguard Family
Needless to say, I was devastated. I returned to the office a few days later, my head held low and struggling to keep the pain inside. Worse yet, multiple coworkers knew why I’d left work, and they realized that a quick return to the office wasn’t a good sign.
Yet, the outpouring of support, understanding, and empathy I received was beyond what I could ask for, or had seen from any other workplace. My friends and coworkers genuinely cared about me, and their support made a huge difference.
Looking back, I was lucky to be working at Vanguard during these tough times, and as a leader today, I strive to support other crew members facing their own personal struggles. Decades ago, I lived in New York and worked on Wall Street, and I know that had I still been there, the response I would have received after a failed adoption would have been very different.
Lots of companies talk about a “work family,” but for many of us at Vanguard, that sense of family is real.
Lots of companies talk about a “work family,” but for many of us at Vanguard, that sense of family is real. When my wife and I adopted our son, the sheer outpouring of love and happiness I felt from my colleagues was amazing. Furthermore, being able to take parental leave in those first few weeks and receive financial aid to assist in adoption expenses served as additional reminders that Vanguard cares about me. Even today, almost 7 years after his birth, I get questions about my son at the office. Whenever I bump into a fellow crew member I haven’t seen in years, the first thing they usually ask me about is my son. And it’s genuine.
I’m thrilled that Vanguard was recently recognized by the Dave Thomas Foundation as one of 100 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces and I’m humbled whenever fellow crew members reach out and ask for support on their own journey to parenthood.
And should you find yourself working here and considering adoption, look me up. I’d be happy to chat.