From Airman to crew member: Presenting the best of myself
I began my working career as an Airman in the US Air Force. After serving 8 years, I recognized the strength of the core values I gained: Honesty, Integrity, and Service before Self. Those values, coupled with the foundation set during my childhood, created the woman I am today and help to drive every decision I make.
In 2003, I separated from the Air Force after determining that one of my goals of becoming an officer could not be realized due to a prerequisite change in the application process. Feeling a bit lost and unclear of the path ahead, I began the search for the next chapter of my career journey. I relocated to Charlotte, NC and was introduced to Vanguard. Shortly after, I was extended the opportunity to join the company–officially transitioning from Airman to crew member.
Joining a company with a variety of growth opportunities was an important factor for me. Fortunately at Vanguard, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally in countless ways throughout the duration of my career. Often times it has been through a job assignment which required an expanded set of skills. However, I’ve also grown by being in tune with my abilities and knowing when I needed to enhance a competency. One of those competency’s I knew I wanted to gain more knowledge on—and be more effective at—was communication.
I always knew how critical it was to be an effective communicator, but also knew I wanted to become stronger in this area. To that end, last year I signed up for our internal Toastmasters club. While I was reluctant, I knew that only positive results could arise from the experience. Since becoming a member, I’ve become more comfortable with speaking in public settings, more confident in presenting ideas, more assured to share input. For example, I’ve agreed to take on key roles in events such as moderating a Fireside Chat (or Meeting with the North Carolina Leadership team and) with our Chief Human Resources Officer at Vanguard, and on a more personal front I recently served as the master of ceremonies and also a presenter during a women’s conference at church.
To shift gears to written communication, a few years ago I sought out a class on the topic of business communication. While I walked away with many tips, I regularly leverage a couple best practices for communication via email specifically.
Balance when to leverage email vs phone. For example: if the email will take more than three exchanges, make a phone call.
Keep information succinct to capture the reader’s attention. For example: if the reader has to scroll down the email to obtain all of the written content, chances are: the email is not succinct enough. Make it a goal to ‘eliminate the scroll’.
There are situations when a more thorough communication is relevant (perhaps in written form and/or planning for a presentation). In those instances, it’s important to find the right mix of information to share and I like to use the “5 W’s + How” as my template:
Who is my audience
What does my audience need to know
When is the decision needed, the change occurring etc.
Where is the impact if applicable
Why is the change or recommendation needed and
How will the plan be implemented
These steps have helped me to keep messaging as concise as possible while sharing what the audience really needs to know.
In closing, I share my complete gratitude to be part of an organization who truly cares about our Clients, our Crew, and our Communities. I feel honored that Vanguard cares enough about our crew to support and encourage continued development. I was proud to serve our country and I’m equally proud to serve our shareholders.
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Vanguard Celebrates National Coming Out Day (VIDEO)
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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.
How LEAP Made Me Feel At Home
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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.
Creating a diverse and inclusive environment was once a passion of mine. Now it’s a burning fire. Having worked on many different teams, in different industries, and in different continents during my professional career, I have witnessed the incredible results that can be achieved by teams who embrace the unique perspectives and experiences of each team member. And I’ve often been asked to share my experience and what I have learnt about inclusion along the way.
When it comes to building an inclusive team, we all have a part to play. Whether you’re new to the team, welcoming someone else who’s new, or simply striving to create a more inclusive environment within your current team, I hope sharing my insights may make it a bit easier.
If I’m changing locations or teams, I take some time to assimilate to my new environment. It’s helpful to observe local customs and team practices—things that seem as simple as personal greetings, fashion choices, or meeting “norms” may be quite different from one situation to the next. For a change as big as moving to a new city or country, I also make sure to learn about local sports, cuisines, hobbies, and events; and I look to my new team to help me get up to speed.
When I was put in charge of Vanguard UK/Europe in 2015, I chose a local football team (soccer in the U.S.) to get passionate about. I put time into picking a team that matched my personal values, and then I wove the team’s results, history, and culture into the local story when talking about Vanguard’s strategy for building a growing business. It was a fun way to connect with my new colleagues, helping them understand both my character and the vision for the business.
I gave the example of using a sports team to communicate with my colleagues, but that metaphor may not resonate with everyone. Knowing that, I also try to connect with each of them on an individual level. I treat every meeting and person I interact with as the most important interaction I will have that day, irrespective of location, hierarchy, race, gender, or department. This is a personal value that drives me to ensure we all get a fair shot. By sharing our diverse experiences, we can feel safe questioning the status quo and empowering each other to be a unique part of the team.
I cannot tell you how rewarding it is to understand an individual and what makes them tick. I am always amazed at how hearing a person’s story and learning what drives them can completely change the type of relationship you have at a more personal level. When you know the hurdles that have been overcome to be where the person is today, you far better appreciate their capabilities to maximize their impact and help a team get a little better every day.
Look back to move forward
As a forward-looking person, I feel most energized envisioning what could be. But creating an inclusive environment also means understanding what came before you. I have learnt that I must consciously ask questions to understand the history of what, why, and how the team operates before seeking to influence. Taking the time to do my homework shows respect for what the team has already achieved and better allows an outsider like me to give informed input as we look to the future.
When I first worked in the U.S. with Vanguard in 2008, I was struck by how many times I wanted to comment (and critique) what our key intermediary clients were doing compared to what I had seen be successful elsewhere. I realized that instead, I needed to ask why. There was so much context and history worth absorbing to help frame my contribution to the conversation. Today I am super conscious of a new member to a group, asking questions to better understand their background while sharing team history to help them understand where we’ve come from and where we’re headed. I’ve found this exchange of information to bring the best out of the diverse experiences and personalities in the room.
Dare to be different
Perhaps the most important piece of advice I can give is to remain true to yourself. You bring valuable new ideas and experiences to the table. Share them with your team as you immerse yourself in your new environment. Although it can be intimidating to join a new team, this change is most often exactly what the group needs. Just do it at the right pace.
My most recent transition led me not only to another country, but also to an unfamiliar role. When I first started as Chief Human Resource Officer, I had big shoes to fill. I constantly asked myself what my predecessor would do in certain situations or how she would lead the team. Finally, I woke up one day and realized I’m not in the role to do it exactly the way she did. I had to remind myself that I was chosen to lead HR because of who I am, what I bring to the organization, and how I can personally deliver on Vanguard’s mission. I challenge you to adopt the same mindset.
My big thing is, fostering inclusion is ultimately about unleashing the team to achieve their best. The less each individual worries about proving their own contribution, the more a team feels empowered to step up in such a change. That is what the best leaders and high performing individuals do, they make teams better. While it may seem a harsh reality, it is not about you as an individual. It is about the team as a whole achieving great results for clients.
Creating an inclusive team environment may seem daunting—it’s a commitment I must renew each and every day. But by working and continuously improving together, we can bring out the best in everyone.
-John James, Managing Director of Global Human Resources (CHRO) at Vanguard
Celebrating “mi comunidad” during National Hispanic Heritage Month
Each year from September 15 to October 15, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month to celebrate the diverse backgrounds of American citizens of Latin American, Spanish, and South American descent. At Vanguard, we focus on attracting, retaining, developing, and engaging Hispanic/Latino crew members and celebrate the diverse cultures they represent through our crew resource group HOLA (Hispanic/Latino Organization for Leadership and Advancement). Operations Manager Evelin M. shares her experience bringing HOLA to fruition and how it has influenced her Vanguard journey:
When I started working at Vanguard in the Acceleration into Financial Professional (AFP) program eight years ago, I remember asking my manager how I could sign up to join the Hispanic crew resource group (CRG). I had interned at two other companies and expected that a company like Vanguard would already have one. I was surprised to find out that a Hispanic group did not yet formally exist. My manager connected me with another crew member who was leading an informal group in the Malvern office. A spin off group was also created for all of the people of Dominican descent who work at Vanguard. I immediately connected with other crew members who had similar backgrounds and they offered suggestions for how to acclimate to Vanguard. Before long, HOLA was born.
Once HOLA was officially launched, I was very eager to get involved with one of the committees. The group made me aware of the Spanish food restaurants in the neighborhood and non-profit organizations supporting the Hispanic community. When I meet with other HOLA members I make sure to recommend these places.
HOLA created a safe environment for me to learn and grow in my career. I was an analyst in the Fund Financial Services (FFS) department with aspirations to become a supervisor. My involvement in the committee ultimately helped me prepare to be a people leader. I applied to join the leadership development committee and got accepted. My experience within this committee helped me increase my conceptual thinking and relationship management skills. It also gave me opportunities to network outside of my department and site, which helped me build my business acumen. As I became a supervisor, it was very helpful to apply what I was learning from HOLA in my role. For example, I needed to apply my ability to think strategically (and globally) on an ambiguous project where my team worked closely with our Scottsdale office.
My involvement in HOLA has given me more confidence to challenge myself and aspire to do more. My HOLA network helped me prepare as I transitioned from the Finance division to the International division. My interests began to shift toward helping with attraction so I became an HOLA Ambassador after 2 years in the leadership development committee. It is really beneficial to have the opportunity to change my involvement within the CRG. After I graduated with my MBA and had more availability, I wanted to be more involved. Next, I joined the Attraction committee to serve as a relationship manager with organizations that Vanguard partners with, such as ALPFA and Prospanica. Having the opportunity to network with these organizations and meet college students and professionals who may be interested in working at Vanguard has been an exciting and rewarding experience.
Looking back at my involvement with HOLA, I am very happy with what I have gained. HOLA has provided a platform for me to give to others and receive. There were multiple HOLA leaders who conducted career coaching sessions with me, fostered my development and inspired me. I also pay it forward and help other HOLA members in their professional development. I feel much more comfortable bringing my authentic self to work and also speaking in Spanish. My HOLA experience is even more applicable now that I am in a department supporting the Latin America and Caribbean region. The support from the HOLA CRG really helped me as I transitioned from multiple roles and responsibilities in my Vanguard tenure. I highly recommend everyone get involved in at least one CRG to foster their professional development—and to find their own “comunidad.”
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.
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.”
Vanguard women break down investment acumen myths and perceptions
Vanguard’s crew resource group WILS (Women’s Initiative for Leadership Success) recently hosted a panel discussion with three female senior leaders in Investment Management to help breakdown investment acumen myths and misconceptions. In this blog, we recap the event and share how these discussions drive professional development and offer ways to improve this important skill-set.
Three panelists take the stage, each representing a different area of focus in Vanguard’s Investment Management group: U.S. Equity Investment Risk Management, Global Rates and Fixed Income Strategy, and Product Planning. Each share their diverse career journey – some had long investment management careers outside Vanguard, others spent time on our Client Services teams or in rotational programs. But all three were anxious to help the women and men in the audience overcome their struggles with the often intimidating world of investment management.
First, it was imperative that the panel define what encompasses Investment Acumen – how does it differ for those focused squarely and deeply in Investment Management from those whose leadership interests are more general?
Seeking deep investment acumen
Two of the panelists expressed the importance of specialization in Investment Management. Their career advice for those who are pursuing this path is to go deep on what interests you most. Develop conviction and an opinion in that area, pursue courses and/or certifications that will increase your knowledge and expertise. They conveyed that specialization is a great way to distinguish yourself.
General investment knowledge
It is also important to have foundational investment acumen for anyone working in Financial Services and at Vanguard. Prior to her current role, one of the panelists had spent the majority of her career in leadership and strategy roles, where she had a strong focus on developing crew. This leader shared that she was keenly tuned in to her learning style. She knew that it was important for her to deepen her investment acumen, so she sought a role to close what she felt were some gaps in this area. She also reinforced the importance of knowing yourself, “I have an all-in learning style so I knew an immersive experience was right for me.” For others in similar situations, she encouraged the audience to think about what unique strengths you bring to the table. How might you lean into those as you’re learning and contributing to a new group?
The panelists also shared their thoughts on how women in Investment Management can be perceived, and the unique challenges they have experienced in overcoming conscious and unconscious bias. The fact is that currently there are significantly fewer women than men in investment management. In everyday settings, women need to adopt strategies to make sure their diverse thoughts are heard. When any group of people is outnumbered, they tend to be heard less and more likely to get interrupted and dismissed.
These panelists advise us to keep swimming against the current. Seek to understand the dynamic of whatever group you’re in and develop a strategy for how you can fit in. It is important for each of us to be ourselves, while fitting into the environment as that self and on our own terms. A great foundation is to build your acumen and credentialize yourself as a valuable voice in the room. Everyone in the room was already doing that very thing – attending sessions like these builds acumen and strengths that enable crew to stand out.
Finally, the panelists recognized the opportunity each leader in investment management has to “represent women well.” Without diverse thinking, how can we meet the diverse needs of our clients?
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
What differentiates us from other data science teams?
“Data scientist” has become a top career choice, but with all the buzz surrounding this term, lots of questions arise such as: Who are they? What do they do?
Well, here’s your opportunity to hear my perspective as a Data Science Manager at Vanguard! To me, a Data Scientist is anyone who can solve business problems by:
Translating business problems into mathematical, statistical, or machine learning tasks
Making appropriate assumptions using business domain knowledge
Building models using data
Drawing insights from models and translate them into business solutions
You may have already done those tasks, but what differentiates a modern Data Scientist from a more traditional one? Increasingly, we seek candidates who can manage large volumes of unstructured data and navigate sophisticated mathematical structures while taking advantage of powerful technology.
Here are some common questions we’ve received from candidates:
1. What’s it like to work at Vanguard? Vanguard is an investment management company and our core purpose is “To take a stand for all investors, to treat them fairly, and to give them the best chance for investment success”. Vanguard’s unique ownership structure — the company is owned by its funds — means there are no conflicts of interest. So we always ask: “Are we doing the right thing for our investors?” whenever we make any decision, whether it’s about a product launch, sales, or marketing. Working at Vanguard is great because crew alignment to the mission naturally leads not only to success for our clients, but also to a great work culture.
2. What kind of problems do you usually solve? I work in the Center for Analytics and Insights at Vanguard. We help our internal business partners serve their clients better by providing analytics-driven insights to support the client life journey. This includes winning new clients, onboarding them, and deepening engagement in the relationship to retirement and beyond. My data science team uses mathematical, statistical, and machine learning approaches to answer business questions related to financial professionals, institutional investors, retirement plan participants, and investment products.
3. Will I have an opportunity to grow my career? I’ve been at Vanguard for 10 years, and I can confidently say that I have grown professionally as well as personally during my tenure. I didn’t start my career as a Data Scientist, yet many growth opportunities were given to me to be prepared for my current role. Vanguard provides various opportunities to grow professionally, with a range of Data Science roles at different levels, support for ongoing learning, and opportunities to rotate to different teams. Vanguard can help you reach your goals. You should continuously push your own limit — individuals who have growth mind-sets will thrive at Vanguard.
So, what differentiates us from others? The entire company works toward one simple and clear goal of doing what’s best for our clients. We solve some of the company’s most complex and challenging problems using a mix of math, stats, and computer science skills. We bring diverse and innovative ideas and share them in a fun and collaborative environment. What else could you ask for as a talented Data Scientist?
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our Data & Analytics career our opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) is a nonprofit organization that specializes in coaching, mentoring, and supporting Black, Latino, and Native American professionals from college to business school and beyond as they climb the corporate ladder. In this blog, Antonia S. shares her experience with the organization and what she gained from their partnership.
Why did you choose to participate in MLT?
Why MLT? Well that’s an easy one! I realized very early on in my college career that I needed more personalized coaching and mentorship as I tried to navigate my future career. MLT was more than that for me. It’s a family of professionals I can go to for guidance and advice on everything from career choices to my next travel adventures. They have helped me at every personal and professional turning point in my life.
What surprised you about the experience?
Once MLT family, always MLT family. One of the most initially surprising experiences as a member of MLT is how much other MLT alumni will go above and beyond to advise, help, support, and motivate you personally and professionally. While it is encouraged from the organization, I believe we find great pride, purpose, and fulfillment in being able to promote and uplift each other whenever and wherever possible. As a collegiate MLT 2010 Career Prep Rising Leader, I had no idea what opportunities, networks, friends, and family I would gain almost 10 years later.
What do you hope to gain from your relationship with MLT?
As a MLT Career Prep and Professional Development alum, I have already gained so much from MLT. As I transition post-MBA, I look to extend my relationship with MLT by giving back to the organization in the form of mentorship and recruitment. At this point in my life, my goal is to help grow and strengthen the MLT footprint to ensure we continue maximizing our impact across the world. We are only as strong as our alumni base, so it’s important to keep connected with other MLT alumni, ensuring we are doing what we can to further diversify and enrich organizations in need of top notch Black, Latino, and Native American talent.
What are your goals for the future?
My goal is to continue making long lasting impressions on families and communities that need it most. I will marry my education, operations, and leadership development background with my newly acquired financial literacy and advisory skills to help organizations and families better plan, grow, and save for their future and generations to come.
What have you learned from working towards an MBA?
It’s not what you know, but what you do with what you know, how you impact others with what you know, who you know, and do not know and mostly importantly how you manage the connections and drive change with each of these factors.
We all struggle with something – what have you learned from your challenges?
Faith, confidence, and grit go a long way and cannot exist without each other. In the last two years, I’ve lost a parent, experienced an injury during a trip to a foreign country, and survived a highly competitive recruiting season at an equally competitive school. Through all of that, I am reminded that one’s mindset is the foundation to weathering any storm. With faith, confidence, and grit at the forefront you can make it through anything.
What advice would you give those searching for a career?
One of my favorite Instagram comedians once said, “How is the sky the limit when there are footprints on the moon?” My first thought was that this guy is hilarious and how does he think of this stuff? My second thought was that this question promotes a very real message of how self-limiting we can be when dreaming big and setting high goals for ourselves.
One of the biggest life lessons I’ve learned is that you can never dream too big. Getting into Wharton was not an easy feat and I could not have imagined myself a graduate of their MBA program 10 years ago. However, now as a Wharton 2018 graduate, I know this will not be my biggest accomplishment but a stepping stone to something far greater than I could imagine.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, learn about our MBA career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
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.
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.