This past summer was my 25th work anniversary at Vanguard. When I joined Vanguard 25 years ago, I was fresh out of college. I was driven, eager, and inspired to make a difference in the world. 25 years later, those same traits apply, though instead of being fresh out of college, I’m married, a mother of 3, and a Vanguard veteran. As I reminisce about Vanguard, we had under $130 billion in assets, occupied only three buildings in Malvern, PA, and had a walk-in center for clients in downtown Philadelphia when I started. I am amazed at how quickly the years have flown by, and am grateful to work for a company which aligns with my values and where I have been able to lead the life I want to.
As a math and business double major, I knew early in my undergraduate studies that I would find a career where I could solve problems, learn from others, and connect with people. While I started my career in Client Services, I spent the majority of my tenure working with fixed income securities: from trading, to portfolio management, and now compliance. When I started on the trading desk I had a steep learning curve and was fortunate to have so many leaders invest in my development to learn all aspects of portfolio management. I had the opportunity to conduct competitive analysis when we launched new funds, help build an internally developed trading system, build external relationships, and manage portfolios to ensure we maintained a stable net asset value (NAV) on our municipal money market funds and met compliance regulations. Over the years, my responsibilities grew until I became an assistant portfolio manager.
Making the decision to take a risk and try something new wasn’t easy. I had been involved with municipal money market and bond funds for 17 years. I knew that if I had learned how to manage portfolios, I could learn other aspects of the business. In my current role in Compliance, I mainly support our fixed income funds. I get to work with global peers, and am in a role where I can leverage my fixed income background and work with investments from a different angle. I have been able to lead large regulatory projects, be an international buddy as new crew joined offices abroad, relocate to Vanguard’s Scottsdale office, build out a global investment training curriculum, and learn what it takes to provide advice on complex regulations. Outside of my day job, I’ve been able to inspire the next generation by helping to recruit talent to Vanguard, leading the Arizona Career Development team (a group of people who help crew figure out career options at Vanguard), and by mentoring and coaching crew. Although I do not currently serve as a formal leader, I’ve been able to inspire crew by listening, asking questions, being available, and sharing tips and lessons I have learned over the years.
And then there is life at home…..
My husband and I had three kids in two years and quickly learned the true concept of zone defense. When my kids were young we both worked full time and my husband’s role had him on the road 70% of the time. I was in the routine of work, being a nursing mom to twin boys, and feeling exhausted from the lack of sleep and chaos of life. As it so happens, I was giving a shareholder a tour of the trading desk, who repeated to me a line I had often heard, “your life is not a dress rehearsal, so make sure you are living it the way you want to. When you are my age and you look back, you will treasure most the legacy you left and impact you have had on your children.” The next day, my ten month old son, Ben, looked up at me with his big brown eyes and gave me a look that said, “Mom, why are you leaving me?” And for me, that was it! I re-evaluated what I wanted and decided I really wanted more time with my kids. But, if possible, I also wanted to continue working and really didn’t want to give up doing something I loved. I am grateful Vanguard and my leader supported me to work three days a week on the trading desk when my kids were little.
As my kids have grown I have been able to lead my daughter’s Girl Scout troop and coach team sports. Since moving to Arizona I’ve continued my involvement in my community by volunteering at a local food bank, becoming a board member of the National Association of Women MBAs, and most recently joining the advisory board of my alma mater, the Le Moyne College Madden School of Business. As to what the future holds, if I can help my three teenagers find their passion and continue to inspire the next generation, what else can I ask for? I am leading the life I want!
Office of the General Counsel, Bring Your Daughter to Work Day 2018
More careers blogs you may have missed
Vanguard Women Break Down Investment Acumen Myths And Perceptions
In this blog, we recap an event hosted by Vanguard’s crew resource group Women’s Initiative for Leadership Success (WILS) where they had a panel discussion with three female senior leaders in Investment Management to help breakdown investment acumen myths and misconceptions.
Inclusion – It’s More Than a Policy Hear from crew about their thoughts on LGBTQ+ inclusion at Vanguard, and learn about the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Corporate Equality Index—and how we stacked up.
Recently, I took the time to sit back and reflect on my experiences in the workforce as a whole and realized I’ve been pretty fortunate. I have worked in various fields – while not necessarily ideal since I’ve always wanted to work in finance, I still never worked in a role or for a company I didn’t enjoy. However, last year while working in the telecommunications field and with six years of military experience under my belt, I decided that I would finally do all I could to get into the financial industry. I joined Vanguard in September of 2017, and not only has it been a refreshing change of scenery in a new field, it’s been everything I’ve hoped for and more.
An excellent support system
As a Client Relationship Associate, there were a few daunting things I had to face to jump start my career – taking the Series 7 and Series 63 exams, and refreshing my finance knowledge from my accounting studies in college. I was fully prepared to go home each day and study like my career depended on it – because frankly, it did. This is when I first noticed the depth of Vanguard’s support. My fellow new hires and I were provided study materials free of cost and given a plethora of time to be able to study, ask questions, take classes, review scenarios, and everything else we needed. I passed both exams on the first try – despite not having a finance degree!
Now, as I approach a year as a successful Client Relationship Associate at one of the largest firms in the world, I’ve started to pursue growth opportunities both professionally and personally—some of which include helping our local communities. I’ve had the opportunity to participate in the holiday giving season through Vanguard, and we’re also provided a volunteer time off day in which we get to help our communities while being paid! Professionally, I’ve been able to meet with fellow crew members in different departments and see a day in their lives, pick their brains about what’s needed to succeed in their role, and view them in action. My team leader Jake has been essential in not only lending his network to get me in contact with different departments, but also in getting me the free time to explore other roles at Vanguard. These sessions have been very important and have helped me identify next steps and roles I’d like to pursue at Vanguard.
With the free time to observe other departments combined with seeing how my team leader has helped me on my journey, I’ve figured out that I want to pursue either a financial advisor or leadership role. I’ve enjoyed seeing the way our leaders develop crew members through coaching and mentoring, and watching how our advisors add value to our clients’ lives by helping them accomplish their goals. It is my hope to continue to build even deeper and more meaningful relationships with my colleagues and our clients, as well as to further develop my skills in my career. Whether it be in leadership or as an advisor, I will continue to be a steward of Vanguard’s mission to take a stand for all investors, to treat them fairly, and to give them the best chance for investment success, all while fostering this same passion with the crew and clients I work with.
With Vanguard’s flexibility and support, I have full faith that I’ll be able to succeed and in a timely manner. As my journey continues, I’m excited to know I have Vanguard’s support and would encourage others to be unafraid of using all of the wonderful resources available to you. I know that I will be able to attain the career I want at Vanguard.
Why I Got Rid Of My Five Year Plan
Vanguard crew member Lauren reflects on why she tossed out her five year plan and instead focused on building a career within a company and industry she grew to love.
Inclusion – It’s More Than a Policy Hear from crew about their thoughts on LGBTQ+ inclusion at Vanguard, and learn about the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Corporate Equality Index—and how we stacked up.
My mom loves to tell anyone who will listen, that from the moment I could crawl, I was running toward something. I was a head strong child, full of energy, always ready to tackle a new adventure. What I couldn’t have known then was that this enthusiastic approach to life would prepare me for what was to come.
While working for a large bank, ready to take on a new phase of my career, a friend of mine encouraged me to check out this place called Vanguard. Boy, am I glad she did! You see, my interview was scheduled when my daughter was just six weeks old. I was told I’d need to come in to the Scottsdale office, and should prepare to spend 4-5 hours on site. Like most moms away from her child for the first time, I sobbed in the car. Doing my best “superman pose” to build confidence, I wiped my running mascara and walked into the building.
I broke all of the rules in that interview. I talked about my daughter. I was candid about why I was pursuing a new career with a new company. There was no posturing or positioning. They got to see the real me. Knowing this was not a “best practice” approach, I was very confident walking out that there was no way they’d hire me. Two days later, I was offered the job! I was thrilled, and singularly focused on launching a career at a company I believed in, never considering what was about to happen next.
Dylan was just a baby when I began my career at Vanguard. She became the light of my life, and taught me what unconditional love can be. She is quite possibly the most charismatic (and strong willed) person I’ve ever met. She is filled with a love for life and adventure. She is also quick to tell you when she wants something, especially when you aren’t delivering. She has an incredible desire to be heard, and always has a story to tell. But as she missed milestone after milestone, I learned what it meant to be a mama bear and a fierce advocate. We were at the end of our rope searching for answers. Dylan had been suffering from seizures, aggressive behaviors, and was severely behind developmentally. After years of searching, we finally found a doctor who agreed that there was a problem and the new chapter in our lives began. We had finally gotten our answer – Neurodegeneration with Brain Iron Accumulation – or NBIA, a life threatening degenerative disease with no treatment or cure.
My priorities shifted again as I balanced what had become a highly demanding career with my role as a mother, an advocate, and a partner to my husband. As the feeling of hopelessness began, I had to push it aside. I became the Chair of the NBIA Disorders Association, where I combined the talents and skills I’d learned as a Vanguard professional along with my uncontrollable desire to help my daughter, and put them to work so that I could make a difference for Dylan and all those affected by an NBIA disorder. I was so focused on my daughter and maintaining my professional momentum that I was distracted from what was going on with my own health. Something was very, very wrong.
Change is rarely easy, but I knew now was the time to take the leap into a formal leadership role and also prioritize taking care of my health. While it was a very difficult decision to step away from the Relationship Manager role I loved, I knew the demanding travel schedule was putting a strain on my family and on my body. I’d been supported in such incredible ways during my journey, and knew my path would one day lead me into leadership. I applied for, and was offered, the role of leading a team of high-net-worth Sales Consultants in our Retail division.
As I prepared to transition into my new role, I took some time off for the holidays. Each year we visit my dad where he lives on a mountain and enjoy a beautiful white Christmas. I had suffered from increasingly challenging elevation sickness (or so I thought), which had become progressively worse each year. This time it was so bad, I could not stop from passing out over and over again. Worried, my husband packed us up and got us off the mountain and I immediately began to feel normal (or as normal as I can be). Although feeling better, a persistent cough kept me from sleeping. I went to an urgent care doctor, who thankfully paused to ask questions, learned about my extensive travel habits, and ordered an x-ray. Although he thought it was likely pneumonia, he directed me to the ER to rule out a pulmonary embolism.
Five days later, I went home with a diagnosis that scared the hell out of me (what are the odds that both Dylan and I have rare diseases?) – lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), an extremely rare lung disease that affects approximately 3,000 women around the world. This disease causes my lungs to be riddled with “innumerable” cysts which obstruct my airways and make it impossible to breathe normally. I was told I would need supplemental oxygen 24/7. I was told I wouldn’t be able to travel by plane. I was told that a double lung transplant was inevitable, and soon. I was overwhelmed.
My world had just shifted. What was I going to do? I’d just accepted this new job. Would they even want me now? Terrified, I called my new leader to share the news. I braced myself for his reaction and disappointment. It didn’t come. What I thought would be an awkward discussion, wasn’t. He quickly subsided my worries. He barely knew me, yet reassured me that he hired me for a reason, and that reason hadn’t changed. He showed me that he genuinely cared about my wellbeing, both in his words and his actions, even after I had to tell him that coming back to work wouldn’t be easy. I’d now be on oxygen 24/7, would be taking drugs that would make my immune system obsolete, I’d have countless hours of tests and appointments, and I might need a transplant that could take me out of work for months or more. My new leader didn’t flinch. He said “Ok. We’ll get through this together. Focus on you. I’ll focus on getting you back to work,” and he did. That day my new leader embodied what it means to be a leader at my company, Vanguard. This approach to leadership isn’t formed by rules, policy, or procedure. It is formed by culture–a culture of authentic caring for others, demonstrated with both words and actions.
Then the reality set in for me. I was going back to work, in a new department, and I’d be wearing oxygen…on my face. Nowhere to hide. I was terrified! How many times was I going to have to tell the story? I’d barely begun getting comfortable with the idea myself, let alone trying to comfort those around me. I’d begun experiencing the stares when my family was out. Would these new colleagues stare or judge me, thinking I had done this to myself somehow? Would they think I was contagious and avoid me?
Just as I began to question if I’d made a terrible mistake, I received a call from my local senior leader. She let me know she had planned a New Year’s celebration in her home for the leaders in our group and asked if I would join. My first reaction? Not a chance. I told her I was afraid of people’s reactions. Instead of minimizing my concerns, she empathized. Caring as always, she asked how she could make it comfortable for me. So I went, and guess what? Everyone was wonderful. This party was exactly what I needed. These people got to see my new reality for the first time in a social, and very safe, setting. The result? When I returned to work, it was old news. They’d already asked their questions, and I was quickly getting comfortable in sharing my story. We had moved on and the tube on my face was old news. Amazing. What I learned here was twofold: how important the role as a leader can be for people, and that when you have the courage to open up about what you need, people willingly and enthusiastically offer their help.
It’s been over a year since my diagnosis. I’ve begun to truly accept my new reality and have found my rhythm. I still require oxygen 24/7, and am working to find solutions that keep my oxygen levels high enough to continue doing the activities I had once taken for granted. While I could spend hours fixating on the countless activities I can no longer do, or worrying about what I may become exposed to that will put me in the hospital, I re-center myself and focus on being present in the moment and find joy in the things I CAN do. The joy of being a mom, the joy of being a wife, and the joy of working for a company and leading a team that I love.
Dylan is still my sweet, charismatic little girl, trying desperately to be understood and fight her own disease. I am still the mama bear fiercely advocating for her every need, and learning to advocate for my own. I’m in a role and part of a business that is thriving. I have a stellar medical team, and am afforded the opportunity to speak at conferences with my doctor, raising awareness for all rare disease patients. Transplant isn’t something we expect next week or next month, or next year. My circle of friends, while much smaller, is stronger than ever. I’m home every night to cuddle with my daughter before bed. For now, I am grateful for every moment and I’m grateful for all of the people who have been there and offered support, encouragement, and sometimes a swift kick in the behind. When the tough days happen, and they do happen, I repeat my mantra, “Keep on keepin’ on.” I put a brave face on for the world.
My advice to others facing their own battle? Be candid about what you need. Work for a company that values you and where you can be part of a community that will support you along your own journey. Remember that you have the power to find joy in even the worst situations. Finally, take a breath, put one foot in front of the other, and “Keep on keepin’ on.”
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.
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.
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?