Michael P. is a Senior Investment Analyst in the Portfolio Review Department. He is an alumnus of Vanguard’s MBA Leadership Development Program and is originally from Seoul, South Korea. This is Michael’s story of why he joined Vanguard and what he learned along the way.
A surprising introduction
One evening during my first year at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, I attended a company presentation led by two Vanguard crew members. I still vividly remember the presentation, as it was quite different from what I expected. Rather than talking about how many assets Vanguard manages and how Vanguard funds are performing, the two crew members spent most of their time talking about the collaborative culture of the firm and how they are structured to do the right thing for clients.
I was instantly intrigued, as having been in the asset management industry for most of my career, I saw right away that Vanguard was a different kind of company. I found out my instincts were right after I joined the firm as a member of the MBA Leadership Development Program. Every crew member I’ve spoken with knew and believed in what the company stands for. It was refreshing to be part of an organization that is dedicated to the investment success of investors all around the world.
A 7,000 mile transition
Becoming a Vanguard crew member meant that there was a lot of change ahead for me. On a personal level, I got to settle down in my new home in suburban Philadelphia, 7,000 miles away from my hometown in Seoul, South Korea. At a professional level, I was eager to take on new challenges through the rotational program and expand my perspectives beyond my previous experience as a fixed income portfolio manager.
With that in mind, I took my first rotation in a product development research role in the Portfolio Review Department. Conducting research and drafting proposals to launch new products was quite different from trading bonds, but I was able to pick up a lot of new skills and enjoyed every moment of it. After my time in the MBA program ended, I launched in my current role as a Senior Investment Analyst.
Things I learned along the way
It’s hard for me to fully appreciate how lucky I was to have this journey from Korea to Vanguard’s headquarters in Malvern, PA. Reflecting back on my experiences, here are a few things I picked up that helped me along the way:
1. Be open-minded to new opportunities. The rotations of the MBA program are well suited to help you experience the various ways you can impact our shareholders’ financial well-being. Like me, you might find a new area of passion and learn new skills in the process.
2. Be aware that there are many people who are invested in helping you, and don’t hesitate to ask.I was consistently surprised how many crew members around me, both leaders and peers, placed my professional growth and development as one of their top priorities. This was a critical factor behind my successful transition.
3. Be ambitious. Here at Vanguard, we are excited about how much more we can do to fulfill our mission of helping investors achieve their goals. This is where every crew member’s extraordinary effort, wisdom, and enthusiasm makes a real difference. Are you ready to bring yours?
After working as an engineer for over 12 years, I decided to completely change careers and pursue my MBA full time. Why? I wanted to do work that I was good at, and passionate about. The thought of making a major career pivot was exciting, complex and risky at the same time. Where could I combine my aspirations for general management with my passion for helping people with their personal finances? Is it possible to transfer the skills that I acquired as a manufacturing engineer, technical sales engineer, and product manager? Or would I have to start over? How would I get up to speed quickly enough to make a meaningful contribution?
To take a stand for all investors, to treat them fairly, and to give them the best chance for investment success.
This sounds a lot like my passion for people and their success with personal finance! And this mission is not just hearsay, it is the foundation for the work that gets done each day. For example, when I worked in the Institutional division, we were focused on helping plan participants achieve retirement success. When I worked in Enterprise Finance, we were focused on monitoring how well we were performing as a company for the benefit of our clients (fund performance, cost, client loyalty and risk management). Now I am working in Client Experience…I’m sure you get the point.
A supportive squad
There were 15 other professionals who joined the MBA Development program with me. Their academic and professional accomplishments have enriched my experience. This group has been my “speed dial” for many things like: learning the Vanguard organization, understanding various aspects of the financial services industry, and just getting connected and acclimated to a new working and living environment.
The additional benefit is that there are many cadres that have preceded us and they continue to make themselves available – sharing their insights to ensure that our experience is a success.
A quality offer
All leadership development programs are not created equal. These are some distinct elements of Vanguard’s approach to MBA development:
Program Qualifications – Vanguard looks for candidates with more pre-MBA work experience than most companies. This was very compelling for someone who worked for many years prior to business school. It was a signal to me that Vanguard values my past experience and provides opportunities for crew to transfer their skill sets.
Rotational Assignments – There is a lot of work that goes into matching participants and assignments at Vanguard. We are placed in departments that align our strengths, experiences, interests and even development opportunities, thus creating meaningful and unique on-the-job training.
Development (beyond the job) – The MBA Development program has created additional opportunities to enhance our professional development through: industry discussions, leader overviews, specialty workshops/trainings, assessments & feedback, MBA buddies, and corporate mentors.
There are other benefits to working at Vanguard (people & culture), but this is supposed to be a blog and not a book. In four days, I will celebrate my one year anniversary at Vanguard. As I reflect back on the excitement, complexity, and risk, one thing’s for sure – I would make the same choice all over again.
Check out this video to learn more about the MBA Development Program!
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, learn more about our MBA programs at www.vanguardjobs.com.
This Valentine’s Day, we wanted to recognize a special kind of love – love of your career! Below we share just a few of the reasons Vanguard is a caring place to work.
At Vanguard, many crew members start their first day in a group and spend time together to get licensed and trained. In this video, you’ll hear from Amanda S., a crew member that shares why her husband eventually came to Vanguard too.
Amanda S.: And that’s what brought my husband here. He worked for a competitor where it was you need to get licensed on your own. You have to figure out the job on your own. And he did it. He did it really well, but then he saw I had some great friends and how much Vanguard was investing in us that he was like, “All right, how do I come to Vanguard? I don’t care what role I come to Vanguard in.” He’s like, “I want to be hired because I know from there I’ll then be able to build my career path.”
We asked crew members Donald F., a Communication Project Leader, and his wife Arecka, an IT Project Manager: What’s it really like working at the same company as your spouse?
“It’s a blessing for us because we both get to take advantage of the benefits of working for a company like Vanguard. From health coverage to our gym memberships to generous paid time off, we both feel very lucky to be working here.
Also, balancing personal and work life comes easy for us because our positions allow for flexibility. We joke with each other all of the time about whose project is a higher priority, because if I’m trying to retain a billion-dollar client then she knows she’ll be the one driving our daughter to karate. Either way, we’re able to make it fun and productive because we can always balance work and family with minimal hassle.”
The power of (career) love – When you feel good about what you do, you want to share it with those you love. That’s why employee referrals remain the number source for finding top talent at Vanguard!
I’ve always been fascinated with human behavior, and wanted to find a career where I could help people live happier lives. I thought that if I could understand people’s thought processes, I might be able to help them make better decisions. So, I decided to study psychology. During my college years, I pursued internships that allowed me to deepen my understanding of human behavior and explore potential career paths, with the goal of earning a PhD in clinical psychology. But as much as I loved learning about psychology, I just couldn’t picture myself working anywhere I had interned. I put my plans for graduate school on hold and continued exploring what I wanted to be when I grew up.
After graduating, I worked at an employee assistance program call center where I connected people with financial, legal, and behavioral health resources. The majority of my calls involved assessing the caller’s various challenges– and through these calls, I began to notice a pattern. In a lot of cases, people’s financial issues were at the heart of their problems. Unfortunately there wasn’t much I could do to help them as I didn’t have the financial background to provide the right guidance. I knew there had to be a way I could offer more meaningful help.
Applying to Vanguard
I wasn’t sure that a finance company like Vanguard would hire someone without a business or finance background, but I heard such great things about the company, I had to give it a shot. So during the interview, I conveyed my passion for helping people and my desire to learn how to help people achieve their financial goals. Because of my dedication to clients and my related skills, they offered me a position as a Client Relationship Specialist in the Retail Investor Group. I was so grateful that Vanguard hired candidates with various backgrounds and appreciated diversity of thought. Crew members are valued for their unique interests, passions, and experiences. And Vanguard does an incredible job teaching the skills necessary for crew to be successful in their roles.
Securities license exams
Now I’m not going to lie and say passing the FINRA Series 7 and 63 licensing exams was easy, but college taught me how to learn and the trainers and fellow crew at Vanguard supported me every step of the way. They offered study materials and practice test questions, and used teaching methods that made the topics comprehensible for every learning style. Crew members who were passionate about coaching and leadership spent time explaining the more difficult concepts to us. The caring culture was evident from the first day I set foot on campus in Charlotte, NC.
Finding my place in finance
Now that I’ve been at Vanguard for a few years, I finally feel like I’m giving clients the services that make their lives easier and their financial situations better. Additionally, I’ve been able to amplify my impact by supporting process improvement projects that help crew and millions of clients.
But it wasn’t just my clients who received support. The sense of community has only grown over the last 6 ½ years I’ve been here. My peers, mentors, and leaders at Vanguard have all encouraged me to test out different career paths, and build additional skills. Since coming here, I’ve learned how to network, build a personal brand, and strengthen my professional presence. I’ve had the chance to work with IT teams and volunteer in the community at Vanguard sponsored events. I’ve even had the opportunity to complete my MBA, fulfilling my aspiration for higher education.
Looking back, I always knew I wanted to help others, I just didn’t know the best way to go about it. Deep down, I knew I wanted to help people get informed and find the right path. I never dreamed that, along the way, I would also help myself.
As my family was traveling across the country from Michigan to our new home in Arizona, I couldn’t help but think what a big change we were undertaking. My wife, Christina, and our dog, Daisy, were relocating to Arizona in a move that could only be characterized as bold. All of our earthly possessions were crammed into a moving truck and we knew exactly two people in Arizona – a former client and a fellow Rotary Club member. We had both recently turned 40 and were starting to feel some wanderlust. I had been working in investments since my early 20’s and over the last couple of years I had developed a desire to do something different with my life and, not to sound cheesy, but to make a bigger difference.
Enter Vanguard into the picture. I became aware of the exciting things brewing in Vanguard’s Personal Advisor Services by reading various financial periodicals and blogs. Having been a big fan personally and professionally of Vanguard and their approach, I was entranced with the possibility of being part of the new revolution Vanguard was starting in the advisory world.
The decision to leave my prior employer and the community where I grew up was a very hard one. I had been in that position for 10 years, was well established in the community, and had a great roster of clients — so there were a lot of factors to weigh. My wife was enthusiastic and her response to my suggestion of moving was, “Sure, let’s do it!” After joining, I would often talk about what a great place Vanguard is to work, so she decided to apply for a position in our operations department. She has really thrived at Vanguard and values our unique client-focused culture.
Looking back over the last 3 ½ years I can confidently say that this was one of the best decisions I could have ever made. The response and sheer growth of Personal Advisor Services has been mind-blowing and a great opportunity for me to truly make a difference in my clients’ lives. In my role as a Senior Financial Advisor, I work with clients every day and can see firsthand the impact that both Vanguard and I are making in their lives.
I tell clients my story and end with “I moved 2,000 miles across the country to work for Vanguard.” That’s how much I believe in what we do.
If you enjoyed this post, check out more from our #LifeatVanguard Blog. And if you’re ready for a more rewarding, engaging, meaningful career in advice, check out our opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
For everyone who didn’t find their dream job on the first try
When I graduated college, there was a lot of pressure to make big decisions, to choose the right path, to triumphantly launch into my career. But let’s be realistic, it’s tough to truly understand what it’s going to be like to take up a specific profession right after college. Assuming you know you want to work immediately after college (instead of the perfectly reasonable choices of going back to school or dedicating a year of service), the options can be dizzying. As a marketing major, I knew I wanted to work in the field, but had no idea where to start.
I ultimately found a role in the mortgage-lending arm of a large financial services company but, two uninspiring years into the job, I realized it was time for a change. I’d love to say that I sought greener pastures after recognizing the disconnect between my values and the mission of the organization, but the truth is the firm was having widespread layoffs (and a government bailout), as a result of the 2008 recession. Two years out of college and seeking another job, I now knew how to ask better questions. How strong are an organization’s values? What is attractive about the company’s culture? Does the firm invest in its employees? But the most important question of all is this: Where do I want my career to lead, and will this next position move me closer to that goal?
For me, the answers led to joining Vanguard.
I ended up taking a client service role, and a few short weeks into the job, I began to realize how special this company is. As I grew into the role, I found they shared both my dedication to our community and a focus on ensuring I had the tools I needed to be successful. Now, almost 10 years later, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Since then, my career goals have evolved a bit. However, each time an opportunity came along, I followed the choice that moved me closer to my objective. (Important disclaimer: sometimes that meant not taking the job, which Vanguard gives me the freedom to do.)
Today, I work in our Retail Marketing department as a project manager, pursuing my original passion from college. On the way here, I have had the opportunity to be a people leader, to get my MBA, and to become a Certified Financial PlannerTM. I’ve worked directly with clients, helping them achieve investment success. I continue to volunteer in the community, helping to prepare low-income individuals’ taxes through Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA).
So it took me a couple tries to find my perfect fit. For many others it might take a few more than that. If you go to work each day feeling disconnected from the mission of your company, feel your work and your skillset are misaligned, or simply want a change, I recommend giving Vanguard a look. Regardless of where you are on your career journey, it might just be that next step towards your dream job.
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 grew up in suburban Western Pennsylvania about 30 minutes outside the city of Pittsburgh. I graduated from Slippery Rock University (SRU) with a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology. I always loved the greater Pittsburgh area and never even considered a move some 300 miles across the state to the greater Philadelphia area. Even before I applied to Vanguard, I told myself (and my parents) that I would spend one to two years at Vanguard and then seek out a job “back home.”
It was the spring of 2008 and the Great Recession was just months away. On April Fool’s Day, I received a phone call that I was being extended an offer to join Vanguard’s Technology Leadership Program. (Yes, my offer letter is dated April 1!) My first role was a Systems Operations Analyst within Global Technology Operations. There, I joined a team of talented technicians who served as guardians of Vanguard’s critical web infrastructure. This position helped me hone my technical and professional skills while building a strong network of peers I keep in touch with even to this day.
In late 2012, an opportunity to join a team within Global Support Services (GSS) appeared in our internal job posting system. With my manager’s support and guidance, I was able to successfully apply for and obtain this new position. This role exposed me to many different U.S.-based teams across the company and I also got the opportunity to work with our growing office in Australia. As I continued to develop in my role, my manager and I had regular discussions about my career path at our weekly 1-on-1 sessions. One week in late February 2016, I had found a role that would be a perfect fit for my goals. It turns out that my manager saw the same role, too! Of course, we both agreed that I should apply for the position.
After interviewing for the new role in the spring, I moved to the Next Generation Apps team. In my current role, I support the software build pipeline responsible for software releases (deployments) which happen every four minutes. There is never a boring day in this role and no problem is the same. My team members are some of the most talented technicians I’ve ever met during my tenure at Vanguard.
We work well together, which is especially important considering that we’re charged with promoting progressive software development practices and technologies across the entire company.
Over the course of these past nine years at Vanguard, I’ve had the opportunity to receive career advice from a variety of crew members, most of whom measure their tenure in decades. These same coworkers have advised me to keep growing professionally and personally. In that vein, they’ve encouraged me to never become complacent, always be on the lookout for a better way to do something, and always be an advocate for yourself.
With the support of my manager and team, I completed my master’s degree at Penn State in December, 2016. It took over two years of night classes after a full day’s work and plenty of declined social obligations. While I was supported by the people I worked with, Vanguard’s generous tuition reimbursement program provided the financial backing and incentive to advance my education. I am certain that I wouldn’t have chosen to advance my education without this critical support in place. Every step of the way, my leadership team encouraged me to do my best work while giving me the opportunity to figure out solutions to tough problems in my own way.
One of the biggest benefits of working for Vanguard is the ability to take on different roles and move around the company. The ease of mobility has allowed me to develop an appreciation of the work that goes into running a company with nearly $5 trillion in assets under management. It also is a great way to build a strong network of colleagues who you can count on to help out when something isn’t quite right, whether at work or elsewhere.
If I could share one piece of career advice with others, it would be to always feel comfortable with changing things up periodically. Rotating through three different positions in the span of nine years has provided me with immeasurable benefits. I often tell my friends and family it’s why my plan to stay “just one to two years” became nearly a decade.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com
How my time in the Marines shaped my civilian career
Vanguard strives to ensure veterans joining our crew have tools and support to develop new skills and thrive in their careers. As part of National Career Development Month, crew member Amy M. shares her story of moving from military service to a civilian career.
Like most people who served in the United States armed forces, I take a great deal of pride in my military background. I’m always excited to share my experiences as a United States Marine and answer the wide range of questions that tend to surface. I find that many people are interested in learning about my transition from the military to the civilian workforce or the most valuable advice I received. Perhaps my favorite question has become “How has your military experience influenced your civilian career?” because it is – without question – an experience I harken back to every single day as a Vanguard leader.
For me, my military experience has been a critical success factor (both personally and professionally) and over time, I’ve come to realize just how much it has enriched and influenced my leadership journey. The experience has enabled me to espouse the strong virtues of both military and Vanguard leadership philosophies: valuing core purpose and shared vision, exhibiting moral courage, understanding the true concept of “team”, and demonstrating the strategic agility to achieve results.
Leadership development is a vital component of military training. A fabric of the culture and core to service men and women alike, 14 distinct leadership traits are instilled into Marines and translated into the lives we lead as citizens. I believe they parallel Vanguard’s core leadership values and I continue to hold these principles in high regard and seek to practice them daily in my leadership journey. Below are just a few of the leadership traits that have become part of my DNA as a Vanguard leader.
Dependability: Counted on always.
Whether in battle or in our communities, Marines develop solutions – not excuses. As warriors and as citizens, Marines can always be counted on.
Integrity: The cornerstone of character.
Nothing you can learn about leadership is as important as earning the trust of your Marines. To lead Marines is to follow principles, acting with honor when all eyes are on you, or when no one is watching. Great leaders must first be great men and women, accountable to the mission and those who follow.
Initiative: Every Marine is a leader.
When there’s a job to do, no Marine waits to be told what to do. Whether on the front lines or the home front, Marines look for ways to improve the situation at hand.
Unselfishness: Team before self. There are few endeavors as selfless as becoming a United States Marine. This team-first mentality becomes part of every Marine’s DNA, from the battlefield they serve on, to the communities they serve in.
Knowledge: Know more today than yesterday.
Without knowledge, judgment is reduced to intuition; decision-making becomes nothing more than a guess. On the battlefield or in the business world, those who are constantly learning and seeking self-improvement find the most success.
Enthusiasm: Motivation is contagious.
There’s no such thing as an ordinary mission for Marines – anything worth doing is worth giving it your all. To carry out a task in the Marine Corps is to motivate everyone to believe in it, thereby increasing the likelihood of mission success.
What life experiences have influenced your career? As we approach the end of the year, what will you reflect upon and how will you align your personal values with your talents and career interests as you think about the year ahead?
Our internal networking group, VetsConnect, strives to create a sense of community for active duty, veteran, and civilian crew members. If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
An overview of the Financial Advisor Development Program
Like many college students, my senior year involved tackling my job search. As a finance major with a concentration in financial planning, it was important that I found a job in this industry, while also connecting with a company that would support my desire to pursue the CFP® certification. I wanted to work face-to-face with clients, as helping people was one of the main reasons that I chose a career in financial planning. Working for a company that valued their employees and cared about career progression was another necessity.
In the midst of my job search, a Vanguard representative attended one of Virginia Tech’s Financial Planning Association (FPA) Student Chapter Meetings and presented on a new program they were offering for financial planning students – the Financial Advisor Development Program (FADP). I learned that FADP was a two-year accelerated rotational program created for recent college graduates interested in pursuing a career as a financial advisor. I quickly found that FADP sounded like the job for me.
The first three months of the program are dedicated to achieving the proper licensing requirements, FINRA Series 7 and Series 66 licenses, with substantial support and resources provided by Vanguard. Not only did Vanguard provide support and resources to help me prepare for the CFP® exam, but they even paid me for the six weeks of studying leading up to the exam. I would receive the CFP® certification in two years (as opposed to the industry standard of three years) through the Apprenticeship Pathway experience exception.
This program gives participants a well-rounded education, mentor relationship and hands-on experiences before they start their career as a financial advisor. In addition, the overall environment I found at Vanguard assured me I had found everything I wanted in a company. Every person I met wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. When I got the call that I had been chosen for the program, I excitedly accepted.
Fast forward a few months to June, when I began my career with Vanguard as an FADP participant. I was glad for the opportunity to be around people who were going through the same experience of studying for the CFP® exam. I grew close to my coworkers very quickly and found that having their support was a key component to staying motivated. Together, we all benefitted from the support and guidance of both the FADP leadership team and our assigned mentors – experienced CFP® professionals. Starting a new position in a brand new program can be pretty overwhelming, and having so many friendly faces on your side is very beneficial.
With the testing phase behind me, I am currently in the program’s first rotation within Vanguard’s Business Development Group. In this role, we communicate with clients in hopes of bringing them to Vanguard. We will uncover clients’ needs and educate them on what Vanguard has to offer. During the second rotation, I’ll help Vanguard’s high net worth clients in Flagship Services, serving existing clients who work with a financial advisor at Vanguard and focusing on deepening my relationship management skills. The third and final rotation will take place in Vanguard’s Advice department, Personal Advisor Services (PAS), creating opportunities to learn Vanguard’s Advice methodology and demonstrating how our advice offer can help clients looking for guidance with their portfolio. I am excited to begin speaking with clients and helping them to get on the right track with their financial success. I am confident the knowledge and experiences I’ll gain from FADP will set me up for success as a financial advisor and I’m looking forward to all that is to come!
-Sara Beth W.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
Vanguard is always looking for people who are bright, collaborative, and, of course, focused on our clients. But recruiting new crew can be a challenge – there are so many available jobs in our industry and we always want someone who fits into our culture. Sometimes we have to think outside the box to find those who believe in our mission.
Recently, we found many of these like-minded individuals while volunteering in our community. Since charitable work is a big part of our culture, it made sense that we would find others there who share our values of client-first, teamwork, inclusion, and integrity. We also discovered that these events gave us an opportunity to answer questions about life at Vanguard and how to join our crew, while still making a difference. Thus, the College Community Outreach (CCO) program was born.
The program is a recruiting initiative, a volunteer program, a networking opportunity, and a coaching session all rolled into one. Vanguard’s University Relations team, in partnership with VetsConnect (our internal military network), invite motivated college students to join us at community service events with a goal of improving our community and learning more about Vanguard. While volunteering, students are able to discuss our culture and career options, and speak directly with hiring managers and HR professionals. And the program isn’t just for potential crew, it also allows current crew to develop leadership, project management, and relationship skills.
Robert G., an Operations Associate in our Retail Investor Group, shares how the program helped him secure a position at Vanguard. “The many volunteer projects afforded me the opportunity to meet with some of Vanguard’s crew. I was able to talk with them and get to know them on a personal level, hearing their stories as they reflected on their time at Vanguard.”
Another benefit is those seeking employment with Vanguard not only learn about our culture, but can also better prepare for an interview. Due to his service in the navy, Robert is passionate about veteran’s programs and was able to meet Vanguard crew volunteering at the Veterans Multi Service Center (VMSC) in Philadelphia. Robert explains, “In my previous career in the Navy, volunteering for projects was a frequent undertaking. After hearing about crew experiences, I was able to reflect upon my time in the Navy and figure out a way to apply my experiences and talents during my interviews.” After being hired fulltime, Robert will be supported in his continuing efforts with VMSC and other organizations by his leaders, peers, and VetsConnect. And maybe one day he’ll be the one sharing his experiences while searching for the next new crew member.