June has always been one of my favorite times of the year. Spring has brought an annual feeling of renewal and the excitement of summer is peeking around the corner. One of my favorite sights is that of hopeful graduates in caps and gowns walking through the Philadelphia streets full of pride and promise for the future. Seeing them takes me back to my own graduation, when I was preparing to leave the relative comfort of my MBA program to embark on a new adventure with Vanguard. I still remember the unique blend of nervousness and excitement as I left the graduation ceremony knowing that everything was about to change.
I grew up in the Midwest, specifically Detroit, Michigan. Until I accepted the offer to join Vanguard, I had never lived anywhere else. I always had the benefit of a big, close-knit network of family and dear friends, who supported me during my academic and professional journeys. When moving day arrived, I remember backing my car out of my mom’s driveway, tearfully waving good-bye, and thinking, “Who in the world is going to help me unpack all of this stuff?” It was my first realization that I was on my own.
My first few days at Vanguard were so wonderful, that I had little time to spend on my anxieties about the transition. Everyone was so welcoming and willing to answer absolutely any question. My new leader took great care to encourage me to take my time learning the ropes. Regarding her expectations of me as a new manager in her organization, she said, “Just go out there and be yourself. People will see what I see and they’ll know you’re here to make things better. You’ll figure out the rest.” It was in that moment, when I was encouraged to just be me, that knew I had made the right decision.
In the weeks to come, things continued to go well. I had found my stride with my new team, and I was starting to speak the language in this vast new place. Though I was finding my footing, something was still missing. I had been in Philadelphia for a couple of months, and I was really longing for family. The absence of their special kind of support was tough at times. It was the only thing that stopped me from feeling I’d found the absolute perfect place for me. But then something happened to change everything. Another African-American woman in my department suggested I sign up for the Vanguard Black Professional Network (VBPN). In what seemed like no time at all, my inbox was flooded with invitations for coffee, lunch, and dinner. I saw an email from the head of VBPN asking about a dozen leaders to all please reach out and make sure I had everything I needed. Once these offers started flying in, I realized what had been missing during my transition. There were things unique to my experience as a black woman new to the Philadelphia area that I hadn’t even thought to ask for help with up to that point. I suddenly had recommendations for where to live, where to socialize, and where to have my hair done. It was like I stumbled upon 20 long-lost cousins with all sorts of advice! Slowly the gap I felt started to close.
In addition to leveraging my new family to get myself acclimated to Philadelphia, I found incredible value in the new professional relationships that I forged. Within 6 months I had a handful of mentors who served as sounding boards on professional matters large and small. Over time I solicited their feedback on presentations, asked for opinions on jobs I considered pursuing, and sought encouragement when I knew I’d made mistakes. It was the same support I’d found from friends and family back home. I came to realize that I had indeed found family at Vanguard. As time marched on, I joined the VBPN leadership team and have made it my priority to expand this feeling of “family” to our diverse and ever growing membership.
Years after I first arrived at Vanguard, I now look at the work that VBPN and our other Crew Resource Groups are doing in the name of inclusion for everyone: professional development programs, networking opportunities, cultural celebrations, and much more. I’m filled with pride to think of all that Vanguard leaders and crew are investing to make our company welcoming and supportive to all. I only hope that everyone involved fully appreciates the impact their work has on people like me. They really did help me find a new family. I’ll forever be grateful.
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!
My parents emigrated from the Philippines to the United States before I was born. My siblings and I are the lucky recipients of their courageous American dream – for their future children to become the first generation of American-born children in the family. They settled down in New York City, in Stuyvesant Town, on New York’s Lower East Side. As a young girl, I always knew I wanted to work amidst the hustle and bustle of NYC. But limited income, spread across a growing family, meant my parents had little savings for me to attend undergrad without incurring significant debt. I buckled down and was fortunate to earn a full-ride scholarship towards an undergraduate degree that allowed me to achieve my dream – and experiences across a variety of different NYC institutions: a Japanese investment firm, a publicly-traded global investment bank, and UK-based index company.
Needing a career move
My life transitioned when I gave birth to my daughter. She made me pause and look at everything in a new way. Unfortunately, my time with her was limited – this time in my career often had me traveling cross country, entertaining client relationships or commuting over one and a half hours to-and-from the office.
Then along came Vanguard. Now, I had been an investor in Vanguard funds for years. And I was Vanguard’s key account manager while at my last firm. But I never truly got to know the culture until getting to know the crew. Could it be true – a company that cared as much for its people as it did its clients? It was refreshing to hear that employees would be empowered to make decisions with a different core mission in mind, one which had a sense of purpose, of thinking beyond short term gains.
So we took the leap. I joined Vanguard and relocated my family to the Philly suburbs. It wasn’t easy. I didn’t foresee how much I would miss my family, how much my daughter, and only child, would miss her weekend play dates with cousins. I found it hard to network with crew whose relationships spanned over the course of years of family ties, neighborhood block parties, and high school relationships. I didn’t follow the Phillies or the Eagles, and I didn’t know what a tomato pie was! Only with the support of my husband could I have ever made the move. For the first time, I was out of my comfort zone – the figurative and literal new kid in the neighborhood.
Finding my Vanguard family
By chance, shortly after joining Vanguard, I attended a full-day conference sponsored by the Crew Resource Group “Leadership and Engagement for Asian Professionals” (LEAP). The inaugural event – focused on connecting, inspiring, and elevating crew of Asian descent – was motivating to see. Hundreds of crew members who, like myself, were transplants from different cities worldwide gathered together to celebrate our shared culture. The energy and the vibe of foreign-born or second-generation immigrants who work hard to embrace the opportunities they’ve been given is palpable if you’re familiar with it – I was inspired and reminded of the resilience my parents faced as transplants into NYC. But hearing leaders speak to the value of inclusion, of diversity of cultures, and of thought, I knew I made the right choice coming to Vanguard. I reached out to the LEAP leadership team after the conference to volunteer my time – and give back the sense of community and inclusion LEAP gave to me.
As we look back on Asian/Pacific American Heritage month, three years after being an audience member, I am proud to be one of a 100-crew member volunteer group that dedicated over six months of their hard work, creativity, and time to put on our third, now global LEAP conference. I am proud of working for compassionate leaders who genuinely support crew in their desires to give back, through Vanguard’s Crew Resource Groups (CRGs) or community-based programs. And I am proud to call Vanguard home.
Krista, a Fund Financial Services (FFS) Senior Financial Analyst, approached her team’s networking event with a clear purpose, “We want to educate crew on what we do and the many crucial processes we touch every day.” At a company like Vanguard, there are so many options for career development and, at times, it can be a little overwhelming. That’s why more and more teams like FFS are hosting networking events for crew throughout the organization to learn more about the department, the teams, and open roles. This event was set in the style of “speed dating” – a format where crew meet with team representatives for 10 minutes, then switch tables throughout the event. Those interested in pursuing careers in FFS got information about critical functions and groups, key initiatives, and how to build financial acumen. Attendees even got to learn more about competencies and skills needed to excel in these roles.
“The interesting thing about our team is that there is a transparent career path. You can go from an entry level position all the way to manager with a clear roadmap. The job is primarily project based, not day-to-day versus a typical daily operational role,” described Brad, a Supervisor in Fund Reporting. Krista added, “Attention to detail is important. We are constantly interacting with teams both internally and externally. Relationship management is also a key component.”
Brad shared with the attendees, “We see the full lifecycle of our reports (annual, semi-annual, quarterly) and they have to be diligently reviewed and ready to send to shareholders in strict adherence to the production schedule. You need to possess great time management skills to manage the entire process. I like that aspect – you finish with a tangible product at the end of the day. You get to hold it and touch it. When people ask me what I do, I can hand them a finished product.”
Jake said, “I joined our team over two years ago when there were nine analysts plus managers. Now we’re over 20. It’s an explosive period for our group and we’re looking for new talent. We hope to find people who are genuinely interested.
Critical thinking is an important part of the job. We may get a week notification that we’ll be trading a new product. We have to get ready for new processes quickly.”
Kelsey, who coordinated the event, said, “FFS has previously hosted speed networking events to provide an opportunity for crew throughout Vanguard to learn more about how we support Vanguard’s funds and clients, while building relationships and networking. We expanded the event and gave different groups from the Finance division a chance to represent their teams. Overall we had 28 different teams represented and over 95 crew attending!”
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
If you had asked me 5 years ago where I would be today, trading derivatives at one of the world’s biggest asset management firms would probably not have been my first response. In college I was studying international business and politics, and headstrong on becoming a diplomat at the United Nations. My summer going into my senior year of college, I worked an internship at the UN. This experience motivated me to follow a path where I could influence positive changes in the world. I also loved understanding how economies operated around the world. In finding Vanguard, not only was I excited about the possibility to work at one of the biggest asset managers in the world, but also a company that had a philanthropic vibe. I felt that the overlap between values at the United Nations and Vanguard was pleasantly similar.
Learning a “trade”
I applied to the Vanguard Accelerated Development Program (VADP), not knowing where in the organization I wanted to be, but excited about the opportunity to explore different areas of the company. The first step was tackling the Series 7 exam – which helped me gain solid investment knowledge and a better understanding of how our funds and ETFs operate. It was soon after that I realized I wanted to learn more about the investment arm of the organization. After spending a few days shadowing on the trading floor, I knew the fast paced, high impact environment was perfect for me.
My first rotation was on the ETF Capital Markets team, a very male dominated area where there had never been a female on the team before. They covered both fixed income and equity, and spoke to clients about trading – this required deep training and hard work to understand the complex technical knowledge. I spent my days shadowing others on the desk and learning about equity, fixed income, market structure, market participants, and ETFs. I kept a spiral notebook with long lists of questions of the current day’s happenings, and Tom (my first manager on the team) would spend time post market hours explaining the plumbing of the market and theoretical reasoning behind the day’s trades. Although this group required a thorough understanding of many different aspects of investment management, I found I was able to learn these technical skills by partnering with a mentor, and consistently asking questions, finding articles, and taking time to self-study. That included starting the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) exam, which although challenging and time consuming, has been instrumental in helping me with my investment education. As time went on I felt confident in my ETF knowledge and my day-to-day now consisted of taking on my own trades and speaking with clients directly, rather than just shadowing another expert.
Creating the right environment
One thing to note is that there is a lack of females in the investment space, and they have historically shied away from more technical areas. Being the first female to join the Capital Markets team, I worked with my current mentors in deciphering why that is and how we could encourage other females to enter the space. The main themes I came away with were mentorship and confidence. It’s up to females currently in these roles to encourage, mentor, and lead other females and males entering the space. The confidence piece is tough, however, it helped me learn that it’s rare that someone walks into a trading or portfolio management job knowing the right way to hedge a trade. Knowing that I started at the same level as many of my peers reaffirmed that I too was capable and smart.
After I became involved in the ETF industry, I also joined a nonprofit group in the industry called Women in ETFs (WE). In this group, I got to know other women in the industry and attended numerous panels and discussions. Personally I have gained so much from being involved in this organization – the network I developed has helped me to not only understand the ETF ecosystem, but has also provided me with a network to lean on. After going back and forth to the New York chapter many times, I decided to explore developing a Philadelphia chapter. I felt strongly that I could cultivate the same experience for professionals here that I was getting in New York. Many months, discussions, and persuasions later we were able to move forward with the chapter launch in August of 2017. Over the past year I have attended events with experts in the local ETF industry that discussed trading, regulation, and market making. The WE Philadelphia chapter has big plans for incorporating formal mentorship programs, webinars, and more educational events this year.
No longer a shadow
After spending two years on the ETF Desk, I was approached about taking a trading role on the derivatives desk in Fixed Income. I was honored by the opportunity to take a step deeper into the heart of our funds and the daily happenings of politics, the fed, and market movements. It’s exciting to work on a desk that has direct impact and trades large amount of notional values. Thinking through trades and risk, staying on top of the markets, and learning how thoughtful decisions can positively impact shareholders has kept me so excited to come into work every day and allowed me to continue to grow as an investment professional.
It has been Vanguard’s openness to teach and mentor that has given me the opportunity to work in such technically challenging roles. If I could say one thing to women and men exploring a career in investments, it’s not to allow what you don’t know to intimidate you. If you are willing to work towards a goal, you can achieve it. You just need the right mentors, the right mindset, and the right company.
If you’re seeking and environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out or career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
Like everyone before me, my story with working for Vanguard starts with an interview. What makes my story a bit different, is that I didn’t get the job… or even a callback for the next two jobs I applied for. But six years after that first interview, and a lot of great experience at companies completely removed from the investment world, I was ready to give it a go once again. This time, I finally got the job as one of Vanguard’s Sales Consultants!
My experience in sales
In the past, I’ve done sales at companies ranging from an internet startup to an ocean freight shipping company. No matter what job I had though, one thing remained consistent: I loved talking to everyone I could about saving for retirement because I know not enough people are taking the steps necessary to save for the future. Even after building a career elsewhere, this is what made me want to try Vanguard again and again, and it is what fuels my passion for helping people accomplish this goal each and every day.
So what does a Sales Consultant do here at Vanguard? I help people decide if Vanguard is the best place for their investing success. This manifests itself in many ways, ranging from basic conversations like “tell me more about Vanguard’s Personal Advisor Services” to more complex strategies on how to move different account types without major tax implications. I’ll typically speak to about 10-15 potential or existing clients per day, with conversations ranging from 20-30 minutes. The rest of the day is following up with clients I’m already working with.
I love being a salesman, but the industry rightfully has a bad association with the term “sales” – mainly due to high commissions and fees that clients don’t always know about. Vanguard couldn’t be further from this because we structure the job as straight salary with no commission. In the sales world, no commission is a bit jarring because that is typically what motivates salespeople to excel. Instead, at Vanguard, that motivation to “sell” comes from a firm (and data-proven) belief that Vanguard is the best place for the vast majority of investors.
How I give back
Now that I’ve been at Vanguard for about a year, the most exciting development has been the ability to get involved with giving back to our community. At Vanguard, giving back is in our DNA, with over half of our crew volunteering their time at some point throughout the year. For me, I knew early on that I wanted to be a part of equipping young people for financial success. We all know how important it is to start saving young, but who is actually teaching kids these crucial lessons? That is why getting involved with Vanguard’s My Classroom Economy was such an easy choice to make!
My Classroom Economy provides free material that enables any educator to teach their students financially responsible principles that will benefit them for their entire lives. What if you could go back in time and better understand the implications of that student loan you took out? What if you started saving for your retirement with your first paycheck rather than being part of the 40 million households who have no retirement savings at all? With the month of April being national Financial Literacy Month, I think of the work that this team is doing and become giddy thinking about the hundreds of thousands of students forever impacted by this program.
Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t get the initial jobs I applied for, because if it were not for the experiences I had outside of Vanguard, I wouldn’t be nearly as passionate as I am about what we do here every day.
Helping the next generation with financial literacy is one way Vanguard crew connect with our communities. Learn more about how Vanguard helps communities have the best chance for success. And if you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
I’ve always been drawn to the concept of Skills-based Volunteering (SBV). It’s a simple notion: find an area or skill in which you excel and support someone who needs help with that skillset. It’s a win-win for both parties.
When I joined Vanguard, the question for me was not whether or not I wanted to volunteer, but rather where I could have the most impact. Specifically, I remember the announcement that Vanguard would be kicking off a community garden and crew members with “green thumbs” could put their talents to good use. Unfortunately for me, if you ever saw or experienced my gardening skills, you would see why our community garden team has not been knocking down my door. Okay, the community garden was out, which was probably best for all involved. So what skills could I put to good use…besides my lacking horticultural talents?
Finding the right opportunity for me
This question made me reflect a bit on my learning experiences since joining Vanguard in 2012, with the hope of narrowing down the appropriate skill to leverage before jumping head first into the Skills-based Volunteering “deep end.” To be honest, this was a tricky exercise for me. I have been very fortunate to have had a number of diverse learning experiences over the past seven years: participating in Vanguard’s rotational leadership development program, going back to graduate school for an MBA, and teaching business courses as an adjunct faculty member at a local community college. As valuable as these experiences have been for my development, I wouldn’t necessarily say they set me up to be a specialist in traditional SBV fields (IT, Legal, Finance, etc.). What they have impressed on me is the value and importance of being a lifelong learner. I paused after this reflection period, a bit frustrated that I hadn’t gotten any closer to locking in which skill to leverage when volunteering…or so I thought.
I had lunch with a mentor of mine later that week and shared my SBV conundrum. As a good mentor does, she responded with some sound questioning. I expressed to her that I had hoped to leverage the skills I’ve developed at Vanguard to help give back in a meaningful manner. She shared with me an opportunity to help lower-income families file their taxes in a program called VITA at Vanguard. As someone with an undergraduate degree in biology, I initially balked at the recommendation, thinking I had no business helping anyone with his or her taxes. She chuckled a bit, then shared that Vanguard leads an onsite training to help you prepare for the IRS designation and certification for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Like so many times in the past, Vanguard provided me with an opportunity to learn a new skill and put it to good use. I was sold and decided to sign up for the first available training.
More than just taxes
The tax season flew by and I left with a renewed sense of why I wanted to leverage SBV in the first place. This opportunity provided countless memorable interactions, like a single parent telling me they used the refund money to save for their two daughters’ college educations, or a family of four that used their refund to pay a medical bill. It was a humbling experience in which I selfishly felt like I took more away than the families I worked with.
It was a truly rewarding experience and one I will not soon forget. For me, it was a great reminder of the importance of being open minded to learning new skills and being a lifelong learner. You never know where you’ll be able put those talents to good use.
Sharing our expertise with others is one way Vanguard crew connect with our communities. Learn more about how Vanguard helps communities have the best chance for success. And if you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
3 things they said I’d never find in a company culture
I arrived at Vanguard in the fall of 2005 after a career in both the non-profit sector and in a help-desk support environment. I had been seeking what some friends warned didn’t exist in a corporate environment: a place that valued lifelong learning and a culture of service. My corporate orientation mentioned a broad set of community initiatives and introduced the idea of professional development with a commitment I had not heard in my prior experiences. Still, I was skeptical: do leaders here really dedicate that much time to growth? Do these people who call themselves ‘crew’ really have the drive to give back to their own community, often on their own time?
A chance to grow
I found my answers in the first few weeks as a website support specialist. After I asked about ways we might improve our client’s online experience, my supervisor invited me to join him on a conference call with a vendor. I found myself explaining details and offering suggestions to consider new approaches. Immediately after the meeting, my supervisor sat with me one on one, asked how I felt, and then offered constructive ways to think about my questions for the future (for example, he advised me to ‘ask yourself if you would recommend the change if your client was in the room’). I remember being struck by the level of consideration given to my ideas, and the care taken to ensure that changes were in the best interest of our clients. The trust and respect I felt was liberating and challenging. I was inspired to prove that I could contribute even more.
A culture of teamwork
Fast forward to 2008, where I found myself watching, alongside my colleagues and the world, as pillars of the global economy began to deteriorate. Rather than panicking, our leaders joined their teams to answer client calls and emails, and set the tone to reaffirm our investment principles. The reassuring patience and focus on our long-term approach that clients heard was a mirror of the commitment that crew felt across all levels. That day, I learned that we are fundamentally more than a financial institution – we are built to help people realize their dreams. Senior leaders, processing associates, project leads, and phone representatives unified under that idea. That experience solidified my desire to pursue leadership as my career path. And with the support of Vanguard University and other leaders who have served as mentors to me, I’ve been leading crew – and serving alongside them – for nearly 10 years.
A commitment to service
My path has provided me with a number of fulfilling community experiences. I have shopped for gifts with colleagues to brighten the holiday season for children in need. I have joined crew and made Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a “day on, not a day off,” by painting apartments for elderly Philadelphians. For me, our commitment to community shines brightest during our “Vanguard Gives Back” annual giving campaign, where crew can pledge time and donations to make a tremendous impact.
I had long hoped to involve more people in giving, and I met with colleagues and a leader to develop an idea that could leverage our health-focused culture. In 2012, I was honored to help kick off our giving campaign by coordinating the first ever Vanguard Gives Back 5k race within our Pennsylvania campus. Over 500 crew ran, walked, and wheeled that first year. In 2017, that number grew to nearly 2,000! I have since met with crew in our Arizona, North Carolina, and even Australian offices to share our experiences and expand this event. They have made the 5k a truly global force, and a symbol of working and giving together.
Writing about these experiences leaves me with excitement for the future. It also instills a sense of responsibility for me to carry the examples I received forward to others. The next crew member I meet may be looking for their next growth opportunity, may become inspired to serve clients and colleagues, or may help Vanguard expand its leadership in our community.
International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity and focuses on unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy, and action. Carolyn S., a program manager in our International division currently located in Tokyo, shares her Vanguard journey, and why she chooses to stay for the long term.
Vanguard was my first “real” job after college – I started in the Scottsdale office serving Retail clients. After interning at other financial firms, I realized Vanguard was a very different kind of employer, one who offered something unique to crew and was a place where women could succeed. I’ve held a variety of roles during the past nine years, and most of my bosses have been women. Having several senior level women to look up to made it easy for me to imagine possibilities for my own career.
This International Women’s Day feels like a good time to reflect on my experiences and how the values of this unofficial holiday coincide with many values held by Vanguard. It is also an important day to me as I have been a part of WILS (Women’s Initiative for Leadership Success) for many years. I’ve been inspired by Vanguard’s commitment to WILS and its mission: WILS is committed to inspiring and preparing women for leadership positions at Vanguard. To achieve this, Vanguard seeks to create a culture that supports and encourages women’s professional growth. While IWD focuses on ten values to guide the direction of this globally-recognized day, I want to share three that stand out for me:
Simply put, collaboration is a must at Vanguard. Of course, there are tasks and small projects you can complete on your own, but overall we are structured to work together. Here’s an example: in school and during internships, I would almost finish an entire project before sharing results with key stakeholders. Occasionally, I would discover new information and have to redo my work. While working in Vanguard’s Corporate Strategy department, however, I learned a refreshing style: I tackled only about 40% of a project, usually in partnership with my peers, then reviewed the approach with leaders, teammates, and internal partners. This allowed for much more timely feedback and ensured we were on the right track. It’s not about micromanaging, it’s about working together to deliver amazing results. In addition, it offers multiple opportunities to be coached and stay informed.
Throughout my time at Vanguard, my leaders have consistently expressed their appreciation for my work – whether it’s a quick email, stopping by my desk, an IM after a meeting, or during an annual performance review. And sometimes the gratitude isn’t explicit – I know Vanguard highly regards my work because they trust me with significant responsibilities. For example, in 2017 I was on a small team charged with planning an IT Leadership Conference session – a demanding project that was outside of my typical responsibilities. While being asked to support this event was appreciation in and of itself, it didn’t stop there. After the event, the executive who sponsored the team gave me a handwritten note of thanks detailing why she appreciated my efforts. That really made me feel valued.
From the beginning, it was clear that there’s a basic level of respect at Vanguard no matter your position. I can vividly recall attending a meeting with the head of our department early on in my career. During the meeting, I decided to take a risk and offer my opinion on a decision the team had made. This leader paused, acknowledged my comment, and asked me questions. That moment may have felt small to others, but for me it was hugely impactful. To have someone so tenured respect my opinion and even ask me for further thoughts meant a lot as a newer crew member. Now that I’m in a leadership role, I make it a priority to do the same for others. In fact, as a leader at Vanguard I am expected to engage and advocate for my co-workers and ensure they feel included and can tell their ideas are respected.
A truly international IWD this year
I recently moved to a position in our Tokyo office – a huge transition both personally and professionally. I feel very grateful that Vanguard trusted me with this opportunity and responsibility. Consistent with the themes I mentioned, I felt supported and valued by my new leadership team and teammates during the transition. It’s yet another testament to the variety of things you can do at this company when you work hard and commit to personal growth.
I could go on about the many ways Vanguard exemplifies the other seven IWD themes, but, that would be a very long blog post…
March 2nd is Employee Appreciation Day – an unofficial holiday to thank employees for their hard work and efforts throughout the year. It just happens to coincide with tax season – one of the busiest, most hectic times of the year for financial institutions. Call volumes spike, timelines tighten, and issues get more urgent. While crew do a lot to prepare to meet client’s needs, many acknowledge that they couldn’t do it alone. Below are just a few of the stories of crew stepping in to help a fellow crew member – and a client.
Jennifer P.: After working a 10 hour day, my colleague, Nik S., stayed even later to help me with a client’s complex retirement request. We partnered together to resolve the situation and get the client exactly what they needed. Nik never complained, he just focused on the goal of helping the client. I can’t thank him enough.
Julaine B.: I just hung up the phone with Ryan and he ended the call with, “Thank you for all that you do.” The sincerity in his voice made me pause and reflect for a minute. In spite of the stress, I am truly grateful for the opportunity to provide assistance to my fellow crew member. These small words of appreciation can make a difference in your workday.
Bridget O.: Thank you Mary K. for providing exceptional operations leadership helping all of us in Flagship smoothly navigate the first week of the year despite weather contingencies. You made it look easy.
Annsley R.: A BIG shout out to Ardy A. and Tara C. for their excellent customer service today that resulted in high praise from our client. He stated, “Tara and Ardy are worth their weight in gold and are wonderful representatives!” Thank you both for your amazing partnership and creating a best in class experience for our clients.
Karen L.: A client told her story to me of her experience with both Melissa C. and Christopher T., “these two employees gave me the best service I’ve had in years! I needed help with a bond fund and they both guided me with our family’s investments. It’s a challenging time and I learned a great deal!” Melissa and Chris, thank you for delivering excellence!
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.