A week in the life of a newly remote worker: Part two
In my last blog, A week in the life of a newly remote worker: Part one, I touched on my experience adapting to a new work environment, focusing on my first three days at home. Now I’d like leave you with some additional thoughts that came to me at the end of that work week.
Day 4—You’re not alone
I’m a social media addict, but it can be intimidating tuning in when so much news is being reported. That said, I have enjoyed seeing how my friends are using social media as a distraction. For those with children, I love to see how parents are setting up mini-classrooms, planning pajama days and scheduling break times with pets. Who doesn’t want to see photos of dogs? I’m also enjoying suggestions friends are sharing to stave off boredom and keep everyone productive, as well as reminders to support local businesses. Yes, we all stockpiled food, but many of us can get pick-up or delivery at local establishments. The support across multiple communities has been inspiring.
Useful tips for your mind and body:
Silence can be painful, but so can the news. Find a fun playlist to add some sound to your day.
Read a book, watch a movie (some services are even offering virtual watch parties!), and relax with a bath.
Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn? Find an online class—it doesn’t have to be work related.
Keep moving. Our gym at work is offering online classes each day while the gym is closed.
Walk around the block, if possible. I challenged myself to take my dog for a longer walk each time we go outside and have run into neighbors along the way.
Day 5—Being thankful
Not everyone has the option of working from home. My company has done everything they can to do right by employees, just as they do for investors. Our mission stays the same—we’re working to provide our clients with the best chance of investing success. This is as important as ever right now!
My final message is to take some time for yourself. Make sure to separate work and personal time. My teammates compiled a list of free resources for you to explore. You can do a quick internet search on these topics to learn more:
A week in the life of a newly remote worker: Part one
I’ve got this. I enjoy working from home on occasion, maybe once a week. Working from home for at least a month is going to be a challenge to the way I work, the way I think, and the way I live. My team, and Vanguard as a whole, had been preparing for the possibility of being quarantined, but can you ever be fully ready for such a change to your way of working? In part one of this two-part series, I am going to share lessons learned from my first week at home.
Day 1—The set up
Everyone is upbeat, sharing photos of their new work space. Additionally, they’re sharing articles about a remote lifestyle, juggling children and spouses/partners at home, and how to communicate with teammates. I have an office at my house, but decided to set up shop downstairs on the dining room table so I could keep my dog company. I have notebooks, pens, two computer screens, as well as a webcam. Luckily, Vanguard recently implemented new software that our entire team can use to meet virtually. To ensure we are keeping up with one another and communicating work stream updates, our team scheduled a daily check-in call, which has been very valuable.
Set a schedule and stick to it.
Preserve a space just for work. Bedroom doesn’t count.
Take breaks to stretch your legs and eat.
Remember how positive everyone was yesterday? We were excited about our new work environment, but we soon saw that everything didn’t go as planned. That’s ok. This is a learning experience for all.
Useful tips for communication:
While my team has familiarity with working remotely and communicating with team members in different parts of the country, it can still be difficult reading someone’s tone in an e-mail, or articulating what you’re trying to say. As virtual team meetings become the norm, we are focused on making certain that all voices are heard, project updates are communicated effectively, and we are banding together to reach common goals.
Read emails thoroughly before jumping to conclusions.
Ask for clarification if something doesn’t make sense—this will help you avoid misunderstandings and unnecessary frustration.
Make sure your co-worker has finished his/her thought before starting to speak in a virtual meeting.
Use video, if possible. Participants will be more engaged and less likely to multitask.
Day 3—Staying connected
Useful tips to stay connected:
These themes have extended outside of Vanguard as well. I’ve had family members call to see how I’m doing, and I’ve tried to do the same. Personal connections can make a difference when you’re alone all day. I’m in a curling league—yes, that strange sport where you throw stones down the ice—and a large part of the game is socializing afterwards. We had a virtual gathering last night for those of us who wanted to “hang out.” My advice: Reach out to someone you haven’t talked to recently. I’m sure they’ll be happy to hear a familiar voice.
I’ve also observed other teams adopt new means to stay connected. One planned a “walk and talk” meeting to get everyone up and moving. Others have used internal message boards to share everything from technical tips for computer equipment, ways to communicate better with co-workers, and general messages of encouragement to everyone company-wide.
Since hallway talk is no longer an option, our team has set aside time each week to catch up on non-work-related items. It’s always fun to see a pet or child running around in the background and how home wardrobe styles differ.
Set up non-work “dates” with peers, as well as friends outside of work. It helps to see smiling faces if you’re used to being around groups, but are now at home.
Use your friends for motivation! I have an app on my phone that reminds me to keep moving, whether it’s steps, exercise, or just movement. You can even challenge your friends. We’re in this together.
Start group documents, such as your own tips for working remotely, allowing teammates to share suggestions. You can even share your favorite television shows to watch.
Stay tuned as I’ll be sharing more insights and tips in the next installment of A week in the life of a newly remote worker.
Vanguard’s Chief Executive Officer, Tim Buckley, and Chief Information Officer, Greg Davis, discuss Vanguard’s plan to ensure stable and strong service for our clients, while also keeping crew safe through social distancing.
Tim Buckley:Greg, one of the questions that we’ve been getting from our clients is what are we doing around business continuity? What steps have we taken to make sure that regardless of how long the coronavirus goes on regards to how severe it gets that we can continue to keep the operations going? And now to our viewers out there, if you look behind me, what you’re looking at is one of our trading floors. Usually you’d see it densely populated. That doesn’t mean that people aren’t working out there when you just see people, every other desk or every third desk. It means that we’ve distanced them properly, and I should by the way mentioned that you’ll notice a Greg and I are sitting apart here. We’re trying to practice social distancing and everything that we do. Beyond, social distancing, what are you guys doing? What steps have you taken to make sure this operation continues? How have you distributed your team?
Greg Davis:So it starts really with the fact that hey, it’s a global operation so we have trading locations in the US, trading locations in the UK as well as Melbourne, Australia. And in addition to those global trading locations, we also have contingency sites that we’re leveraging right now in each one of those locations. So we have our team split up between our main hubs and those contingency sites, and we’ve even prepared for the fact that if we need to, our people could trade from home. So we’ve installed the technology, we’ve tested the system, so we could have business as usual, even in a severe event.
Tim:And trading from home is not something you are going to jump to. I mean you guys love the collaboration that happens on the floor even when people are spread out. It’s just much easier to happen there. That said, if we have to go there, we absolutely ready to do it.
Tim:Security is going to be the same absolutely whether if someone’s at home as it’s going to be the same if we’re trading from home, as if you’re trading from here.
Tim:Now, I should mention Greg that the rest of Vanguard’s operations, whether they’re talking to an associate at Vanguard, whatever area of Vanguard is supporting the client, those areas have been distributed too. That we have taken steps to move associates apart. Moving between different buildings. People are working from home. They are distributed between our sites as well so. We’re taking the steps to make sure that we continue business as usual here or as close to as usual as possible
All investing is subject to risk, including possible loss of principal.
There is no guarantee that any particular asset allocation or mix of funds will meet your investment objectives or provide you with a given level of income.
Bond funds are subject to the risk that an issuer will fail to make payments on time, and that bond prices will decline because of rising interest rates or negative perceptions of an issuer’s ability to make payments.
Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss.
Investments in stocks or bonds issued by non-U.S. companies are subject to risks including country/regional risk and currency risk.
What people say when I tell them I work at Vanguard
Working at Vanguard is both an honor and responsibility. Crew members are often excited to share where they are employed, but you never know how others may respond—will they want investment advice, or ask if you know a friend or family member who also works at Vanguard? We asked crew to tell us some of their stories. Here is what they had to say:
I was recently on vacation in Cartagena, Colombia. One day, we took a day trip on a speed boat with two other couples, whom we did not know, to nearby islands. We introduced ourselves and the conversation naturally turned to the topic of what we all did for a living and where we worked. When I mentioned I worked at Vanguard, one of the gentleman’s eyes got as big as saucers. He grinned and stuck out his hand to shake mine. He was so excited to meet someone who worked at Vanguard and thanked me enthusiastically for helping him achieve a lifetime of investment success. I accepted his thanks on Vanguard’s behalf. He then shared that because of his investments at Vanguard, he is able to follow his passion of traveling and seeing the world.
Clients always seem pleased to make our acquaintance and regularly share how grateful they are. Without fail, that’s one of the two reactions I receive when telling someone I work at Vanguard. The other, as others have likely experienced, is, “Do you know so-and-so?”
When someone finds out that I work for Vanguard, they tell me about how they have money with Vanguard and where that money is invested. Upon finding out that I am in our Information Technology group, they begin to offer me recommendations for enhancing the tech experience for clients. A two minute meet-and-greet ends up being a twenty minute, in-depth conversation.
People often think I am a financial advisor when they hear I work at Vanguard. I have a few friends who are getting hitched soon and want to discuss their finances with me. While I’m happy to offer perspective, I always start the conversation with a reminder: I am not a financial advisor but can provide guidance.
Before I worked at Vanguard, I used to say that I worked in the “investment” industry because nobody had heard of my company. But as the financial crisis occurred in 2008, it was strange to suggest I worked with investments, seeing as some people didn’t hold the industry in high regard.
Since becoming a crew member in 2009, I proudly share with people that I work at Vanguard. The typical reaction I get is, “You do? That’s a great firm. Make sure to take good care of my 401(k)!” Before launching my career here, I underestimated the pride I have working at a firm that does the right thing for its clients.
If you ever happen to meet a crew member at one of our domestic or international locations, we’ll be happy to tell you about #LifeatVanguard. We may not be able to offer advice or know your acquaintances personally, but you’ll definitely feel the enthusiasm we have for our mission to provide our clients with the best chance of investment success.
All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest. Advice services are provided by Vanguard Advisers, Inc., a registered investment advisor, or by Vanguard National Trust Company, a federally chartered, limited-purpose trust company.
Diverse perspectives in Vanguard’s Investment Management Group
In the spirit of celebrating International Women’s Day, we partnered with women across Vanguard’s Investment Management Group (IMG) to hear their #LifeatVanguard stories. In this series, crew and leaders touch on a variety of meaningful topics, including what drew them to Vanguard, resources used for learning, company culture and advice for women looking to join IMG.
Voyage to Vanguard and first impressions
Senior Portfolio Manager in the Equity Investment Group
I was attracted to Vanguard as one of the largest asset managers in the industry, as well as its mission-based corporate objective. One of the biggest differences that stands out from where I’ve previously worked is the fact that we are owned by our shareholders, so every decision made at Vanguard is based on aligning with the best interest of our clients.
Global Portfolio Risk Manager in the Fixed Income Group
When I first became a crew member, I was most surprised by the level to which collaboration and team work was both encouraged and valued. People are genuinely helpful and dedicated to delivering the best possible products and services to our clients. We are mission driven. We are client focused. We are a team.
Learning and development
Investment Risk Manager in the Risk Management Group
I’m always looking to seek out and utilize every possible resource I can. For example, on market and asset class specific topics, I will read the news and academic papers, but I also like to learn from experts such as our credit analysts, portfolio managers, and traders. On risk topics, tools, and models, I like to keep up with new developments via hands-on application, conferences, and seminars. I also enjoy discussions with my fellow colleagues to shares best practices.
Investment Analyst in the Investment Strategy Group
I’ve been working on building out my machine learning acumen to supplement my more traditional econometric models. I’ve also been increasing my financial acumen through the pursuit of my Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) designation, which will help better frame my research questions. Moving into 2020, I want to improve my presentation skills so I can share my ideas with a variety of audiences to get feedback and new ideas to build the best investment solutions.
Living my best
Regulatory and Policy Risk Lead in the Risk Management Group
A personal passion for me throughout my Vanguard career has been contributing to our corporate inclusion and diversity efforts. I was a member of the core team that developed, piloted, and scaled the Women’s Initiative into Leadership Success: Invest in Yourself (WILS IIY), which is a monthly educational series for women focused on providing an enterprise-wide perspective on core investment topics. It was a special experience for me to participate as a panelist earlier this year during our first global session with the United Kingdom office.
Investment Analyst in the Fixed Income Group
I plan ahead as much as possible, especially now that I am a part-time grad student. I map out my days, weeks, and months to ensure I have time for everything that’s important to me, including going to the gym, having dinner with friends and family—and rest! It’s essential to prioritize time to recharge as you can’t go the distance on an empty tank.
Head of U.S. Equity Investment Risk in the Risk Management Group
My advice to individuals starting their careers is to ask a lot of questions and try to learn as much about the company’s business model as possible. No matter what role you’re in and what your level, being able to connect what you do and its significance to the overall success of the business will help you do a better job and align your contributions to the objectives of the company.
Head of Equity Index-Europe in the Equity Investment Group
For women looking to join the Investment Management Group, a career in trading and investing is not easy, but nothing worth having generally is. A high level of commitment, patience, resilience, and passion is required . . . have more confidence in yourself, you are that good!
CFA® and Chartered Financial Analyst® are registered trademarks owned by CFA Institute.  Vanguard is client-owned. As a client owner, you own the funds that own Vanguard.
Vanguard celebrates MLK and Black History Month through service
In the U.S., crew members celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life, legacy, and commitment to volunteerism by participating in community projects and activities throughout the winter. As Black History Month comes to an end, we have asked crew in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Arizona to reflect and share their personal experiences attending Martin Luther King, Jr. Days of Service events. Here’s what they had to say:
For as long as I can remember, receiving quality education has been a priority in my household. I spent countless hours at my parents’ dining room table working on homework. Even now, my mom regularly tries to convince my 4-year-old son to work on spelling games at the same table. I feel very fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to work with the West Philadelphia Action for Early Learning (AFEL) to help instill this imperative into the children of that community. The organization has two main goals: kindergarten readiness and reading on grade level by the third grade. My colleagues and I were able to support these goals by preparing resource bags for use in classrooms and reading to some of the children from local schools. Beyond the crew that were able to attend, crew from across Vanguard donated over 250 books to help children build their home libraries.
The specific group that supported AFEL is the Vanguard Black Professional Network (VBPN), which is committed to increasing engagement of black crew members and supporting the increased representation of black crew in leadership positions. Having the opportunity to serve with aligned crew in a community that may produce the future of Vanguard leadership was truly a humbling experience.
— Josh C.
VBPN sponsored two MLK Days of Service events in North Carolina at Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina and Classroom Central. Second Harvest is responsible for supplying food throughout a 19-county region of North and South Carolina through a network of over 700 emergency pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and programs for low-income children and seniors. Crew members took time out of their Saturday to help inspect and sort donated food items for distribution to those partner agencies. Classroom Central equips students in need by collecting and distributing free school supplies to their teachers. Eleven Vanguard crew members assisted the organization by die cutting shapes and organizing the overflow of school supplies in the warehouse.
— Ebony B. and Sabrina B.
As a North Caroline VBPN site lead, giving back is extremely important to me. It’s such a rewarding and humbling experience. I’ve been with Vanguard for 21 years and our commitment to our community has never wavered. It is an amazing differentiator, and providing Days of Service so crew can work together to help others is so empowering. As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Black History Month, this resonates with me even more. His commitment to service and helping others was powerful and a major driver in the movement. To be able to not only serve, but honor him and his sacrifice, is humbling. To me, this is what our purpose is about; loving and helping others, and extending your hand to pull others up. That is what service is really about.
— Kenya H.
I am a helper by nature and have enjoyed volunteering for many organizations and causes since childhood. I recently had the opportunity to coordinate an MLK Days of Service volunteer event on behalf of VBPN at Feed My Starving Children (FMSC). FMSC is a non-profit organization that assists in providing rice, soy, dried vegetables, and vitamins and minerals to needy children locally and internationally. Through donations and the efforts of volunteers, FMSC is able to ensure the food is packaged and expedited to hungry kids. On the day of our volunteer event, I was immediately impressed with the FMSC staff. We were warmly greeted and provided with instructions to prepare us for the day.
I appreciated that the FMSC staff emphasized a hygienic environment to ensure the children were not exposed to germs, and we watched a video that included detailed instructions for each food prep station. The staff kept the event light by teaching us fun chants to say when each prep station was able to completely fill a box with food packages. The staff shared with the volunteers that it costs $88.00 to feed one needy child, ALL year! As a parent of two teenagers, that resonated with me. On average, it costs my family more than $88.00 per week in meals. During our volunteer session, we were able to fill 192 boxes with food packages, which will feed 113 children in Thailand and provide 41,472 meals!
When I volunteer, I feel that I benefit from the experience in so many ways. I get to share in the experience with fellow crew and members in our community that also volunteer their time. Volunteering helps me appreciate how fortunate we are and reminds me that by simply providing our time, we are making an impact. A thank you note I once received after donating my time included an impactful quote that sums up my volunteer journey:
“Help one another. There’s no time like the present
and no present like your time.” —James Durst
Vanguard Leadership Performance Consultant Matt P. shares his insight on creating a feedback culture—and as he mentions, it doesn’t need to be scary!
If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times: “I’m open to feedback. Please share it with me as soon as you have it.” But once there’s something to share, feedback becomes the “gift” everyone wants to return.
For over ten years now, feedback has been an integral part of my professional (and personal) life. As a corporate trainer, leader, and now Leadership Performance Consultant, I recognize that feedback is an essential ingredient in the development and growth of others (myself included). I rely on both dispensing and receiving it. And others rely on my ability to articulate its importance and understand its impact to their career.
It’s normal for our skin to get too “thin” when it comes to feedback. And aside from the good game a person may talk, feedback is generally avoided. You can predict the result: Development stalls, or even halts completely. Feedback doesn’t need to be scary. And although it’s often misunderstood, it isn’t complicated. My advice: Run toward feedback! Dispense it with empathy, and receive it with gratitude.
So what is feedback?
Well, at its most basic, we use feedback to “grow, show, or know.” More specifically, this means providing “developmental” or “evaluative” (sometimes both) feedback to help someone. And that someone shouldn’t necessarily be an employee who is getting a message from a leader. Feedback works best when it’s given peer-to-peer, leader-to-direct, and direct-to-leader. We’re all in this together. So what are the nuances between developmental and evaluative?
At the highest level, developmental feedback is based on a desire to grow or develop someone at an individual level. It provides detailed information on how behavior or performance can be changed or maintained. It also gives minimal indication or performance relative to others. In contrast, evaluative feedback is usually for a defined period of time and aligned to a specific competency. It’s often tied to specific rewards or compensation, and focuses on outcomes or relative impact to others. Lastly, feedback is not coaching. But feedback informs and drives coaching. Feedback is factually based and past tense. “In yesterday’s meeting, you did XYZ. Here was the impact.” Coaching gets into where you go from here.
Often times, people give compliments in lieu of feedback. “Great job in today’s meeting!” Thanks. But what was so great? This is a prime opportunity for specifics. “Great job” is more of an opinion—a compliment at its best (at its worst, it avoids giving detail and thoughtful insight). Instead, try linking what someone did to the expected results of the job, or something the recipient is working to improve. And don’t worry; you can still be complimentary: “Great job instilling confidence in your stakeholders yesterday. During the meeting, you answered every question with detail, affirmed next steps, and assigned deadlines appropriately. As a result, everyone left with a better understanding of his or her responsibilities, as well as where the project is going.” See the difference?
Find your approach
In order to be truly effective, feedback needs to become habitual—think brushing your teeth or going to the gym. Each of us should be looking for opportunities, regardless of role or level, to make feedback more deliberate and disciplined. If you’re asking for it, reflect on what you can do to solicit for it, and make it safe and easy for others to provide it. Don’t get defensive. Seek to understand, thank the messenger, and reflect on what you heard. If you’re giving it, be thoughtful and specific with the message, and show that you’re invested in someone’s growth, not looking to nit-pick. Provide it often so it becomes routine and is expected by others.
So often what I observe is that feedback is only given when someone does something that falls on the furthest ends of what I call the “Nailed it! Failed it!” spectrum. If Cynthia does a “great job” in a meeting (Nailed it!), she gets a compliment (again, not feedback). If Cynthia messes up (Failed it!), she gets feedback about what she did “wrong” (and coaching may or may not accompany it). Resist the temptation to live on the fringe. Most of what we do in our careers are neither “Nailed it” nor “Failed it” case studies. We live in the “in-between”. And here lies the greatest room for feedback to work its magic.
Here’s an example: “Matt, I appreciated your participation and insight in yesterday’s staff meeting. Can I offer you some feedback? I noticed a few times throughout the meeting you were checking your phone. During one of these instances, you weren’t able to notice the non-verbal reaction several teammates had to something you said. Keep in mind that looking down at your phone instead of reading the room may serve as an impediment to your ability to counter resistance, read the room, convey commitment, and or effectively influence others.” This is an instance of where giving a precise and meaningful piece of feedback can help a teammate understand the impact of his behavior. And, should he chose to act on it, get better!
Make feedback more habitual by carving out time in one-on-ones, team meetings, and/or coffee chats with colleagues. After a while, others will see feedback for what it is—a conduit for insight and development, not penalization. The more people understand that it’s being given not only to address large skill gaps (appropriate, though not the norm), but to reinforce positive behavior and improve performance and overall development, the more people will seek it out—even expect and appreciate it! Create a safe, empathetic environment for giving and receiving feedback, and strive to make feedback more expected, so it’s accepted. Only then will it truly be the “gift” that everyone wants to receive.
— Matt P.
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In recent months, Vanguard has been recognized across multiple communities as an employer of choice. In this blog, the Diversity and Inclusion team is excited to highlight accolades that Vanguard is proud to have received.
College students praise Vanguard’s summer internship program
Vanguard is ranked No. 4 for 2020 Best Financial Services Internships among 40 companies in the industry, and Vanguard is ranked No. 40 for Best Overall Internship among 135 participating companies representing all industries. This contest is sponsored annually by Vault.com, and results are based solely upon feedback from the undergraduate students that participated in our 2019 summer internship program.
The scoring and final ranking is based upon several aspects of the summer internship program:
Full-time employment prospects.
Compensation & benefits.
The interview process.
Overall quality of life.
Maintaining a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2020 Corporate Equality Index Survey
This is the fifth consecutive year that Vanguard has been recognized in the 2020 Corporate Equality Index report. Published annually, the survey evaluates a company’s corporate policies, practices, and benefits with respect to LGBTQ+ employees. It’s the global standard for benchmarking corporate policies and practices for awareness and inclusion in the workplace.
The 2020 survey is divided into three key criteria areas of focus:
Nondiscrimination and inclusion policies across business entities.
Equitable benefits for LGBTQ+ workers and their families.
Support of an inclusive culture and corporate social responsibility.
Chief Diversity Officer Crystal Hardie Langston shared, “At Vanguard, we believe our culture of inclusion is essential for each of us to fully thrive in our careers and provide superior value to our clients and communities. It’s a business imperative for Vanguard’s success in the future, and that’s why we are committed to providing a trusting, supportive environment in which all crew members worldwide feel a sense of belonging.”
Continuing to climb in IT
Vanguard rose to number three among large organizations (5,000 or more U.S. employees) in Computerworld’s 2019 survey of the Best Places to Work in IT, up from number nine last year and number ten in 2017.
The rankings are based on both employer and employee surveys. About half of the scoring was based on crew member responses, and the other half was based on a survey of several HR areas: career development, retention, benefits, diversity, and training.
“This is an incredible endorsement for our organization, for Vanguard, and for our clients,” said John Marcante, managing director for IT. “This recognition is a reflection of all the crew at Vanguard who work daily to make this place a special community.”
Vanguard embraces veterans
Vanguard was also recognized as a Top Veteran-Friendly Company in 2019 by U.S. Veterans Magazine (USVM). The magazine’s annual list evaluates a company’s policies, practices, and career recruitment efforts with respect to veterans. Its mission includes finding employment and other opportunities for transitioning service members, disabled veterans, spouses of veterans, and veteran business owners.
USVM selected about 200 names after polling hundreds of companies, including many on the Fortune 1000.
This year’s evaluation recognized excellence in three focus areas:
Sponsorship of veteran career events.
Success in seeking, hiring, and/or retaining veteran candidates.
“Together we work to establish a strong crew network of service-minded military veterans and friends,” said Sean Gardner, senior manager in Global Risk & Security and a member of the VetsConnect leadership team. “Our objective is to enrich the sense of community for crew with past military service and all others interested by providing engaging ways to connect, assisting new veteran crew to Vanguard, and reflecting the esprit de corps of our military heritage.”
The selection was based on Scottsdale crew’s demonstrated distinction and excellence in multiple fields: client experience, innovation, leadership, social responsibility, and workplace culture.
“This is a significant accomplishment for Vanguard,” said Deborah Akinsipe, HR site lead for Arizona. “We could not have achieved this milestone without the commitment of our crew. Their dedication to client service and unwavering support to our local community are just some of the reasons we received this award.”
I have always been the kid who loves school. I never balked at a summer reading list, and after about three weeks of summer break, I was ready to go back. Even while completing my undergraduate degree at James Madison University (Go Dukes!), I had a strong feeling that I would head back to school some day for an advanced degree. I wasn’t sure what my area of focus would be or when I would start, but I knew it would happen.
Before I could make these choices, I wanted real-world experience. I joined Vanguard in 2014 as a Client Relationship Associate in our Charlotte, North Carolina office, serving our personal investors. I supported a few teams within our Retail Investor Group, where I was responsible for helping new clients meet their investment needs and continuing to deepen current client relationships. From there, I transitioned to the social media team in the summer of 2017 to focus on community building and social care. If you’ve ever seen a post signed with “—Emily” on our Facebook page, that’s me!
It was a few months into my new position when I felt ready to continue my education journey. Work was going well for me and I was getting the hang of how marketing works outside of the classroom (I took a few marketing classes as an undergraduate, but everything is different in practice than in theory). I wanted to learn more about not only marketing, but business as a whole, and decided to begin looking for an MBA program.
Charlotte is a hub for many financial companies, so I had multiple programs available to me. I needed a program that would allow me to continue working full-time, since I would be paying for this on my own. I also wanted a program that was cost-effective (as a Vanguard crewmember, I think about costs more than the average person), and flexible in case I needed to take time off. The Professional MBA (PMBA) program through the University of South Carolina is what I ultimately chose, and two years in, I’m so glad I did.
Posing with Cocky, the University of South Carolina’s Gamecocks, at the Charlotte USC campus
Because I would be paying for school on my own, I was nervous about how I was going to make this work financially. I’m fortunate to not have any undergraduate debt (thanks Mom and Dad!), and did not want to be buried in debt as a result of obtaining a graduate degree. When discussing my education goals with my manager, he mentioned Vanguard’s Academic Assistance Plan. Once I researched this further, I became even more excited to start my studies.
The Vanguard Academic Assistance Plan offers a generous tuition reimbursement each calendar year for full-time crewmembers. There’s no minimum time-in-job requirement, so even as a relatively new employee, I could still take full advantage of this benefit. Based on the cost of my specific program, the plan covers the cost of tuition for four classes per calendar year. School is stressful enough, so not having to worry about how to pay for it is a huge weight off my shoulders. I’m able to focus more on my studies and build relationships with fellow students because I don’t have to fret about how I’m going to afford everything.
I plan to graduate from my MBA program in December 2020 and will genuinely miss working with the professors and other students. Having the opportunity to get the perspective of other professionals, both inside and outside of the financial services industry, has helped me provide more well-rounded input and insights in my current role and better understand Vanguard’s place in the business world at large. Vanguard’s Academic Assistance Plan is allowing me to accomplish one of my dreams (getting an advanced degree), while working at a great company.
Please note: All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.
There are many anticipated advances that will change the way that we do business. Speculation and ideas about what will shape the future of investing can bring fear or excitement to the industry. Vanguard’s Crew Resource Group, Leadership and Engagement for Asian Professionals (LEAP), held a Q&A session with Vanguard’s CEO, Tim Buckley, and a Principal of the Institutional Investor Group, Jean Lu, on how cultural and technological differences make an impact on ongoing and future ways of working, both at Vanguard and within the industry.
(Left to right) John Ameriks, Jean Lu, and Tim Buckley discuss Future of Work
In the opening remarks, Jean Lu reminded everyone that approaching cultural differences can be an opportunity to challenge the status quo. Although difficult, addressing the uncomfortable aspect can provide a new perspective to everyday operations.
As one of the department heads of the Institutional Investor Group and a co-executive of LEAP, Jean discussed her experiences receiving difficult questions about diversity and shared that when we speak up, we become advocates for diversity and bring value and new ideas to light. She referenced a quote from Verna Myers, Vice President of Inclusion Strategy at Netflix, who noted, “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance,” to highlight the importance of what we can do to increase diversity, inclusion, and intersectionality in the workplace. Jean later added, “Diversity matters because embracing different cultures give us a competitive edge. It’s my fiduciary duty to share my perspective, even if it’s uncomfortable.”
Tim Buckley also made it clear that diversity plays an integral part in the future of Vanguard. Tim elaborated, “If we listen to each other, we can learn from each other and build on ideas.” As an example of this type of collaboration, he described how Vanguard’s economics team brings together regional expertise from Europe, Australia, Hong Kong, and the U.S. to ensure our research and analysis presents a global picture of the trends investors need to know about.
One trend our economists have an eye on is how technology will impact the future of work. With the rise of automation and artificial intelligence, Tim reminded the room of the distinction between tasks and jobs. Many rote, repetitive tasks can be automated, which means that jobs will rely more on human creativity and problem solving. At Vanguard, we’ll need both technical expertise and what our researchers call “uniquely human tasks” to serve clients well. Jean added that the “. . . need for tech acumen and expertise will only increase. Our ability to go deep is important.”
LEAP holds events throughout the year to participate in meaningful and impactful conversations. John Marcante, co-executive of LEAP, shared that LEAP impacts the workplace by “providing a network of support, development, and empowerment,” and urges that we “Get involved. Dig deep. Ask hard questions. It takes courage. That’s what leaders are made of. It’s about talking about intersectionality.”