In this blog, we sit down with Kelly M. and Elisha V., two crew members who serve different areas of the Vanguard business and received a professional development opportunity through one of our employee resource groups. Kelly is a Senior Research Associate in our Fixed Income Group, where she analyzes municipal bonds and works with the trading and portfolio management teams. Elisha is an IT Delivery Manager within our 401(k) Institutional Systems division, where she leads IT teams across our Pennsylvania and North Carolina offices. This is their story:
When thinking about where you want to launch or continue your career, you can be assured that at Vanguard, an emphasis is placed on professional development. Combined, we have been at Vanguard for nearly twenty years. During our tenure, we have both received support in various ways to help further advance our skill set. There is one development opportunity that we pursued, however, that stands out from all the rest. Through the Women’s Initiative for Leadership Success (WILS), one of our five Crew Resource Groups, we applied and were selected to participate in an advanced leadership development program for women. In addition to collaborating with female talent from across the enterprise and having a dedicated leadership coach consultant, the program presented us with several frameworks and tools that prepared us to handle a number of scenarios that we could potentially face throughout our careers. Examples include shaping the way we make decisions, preparing and executing courageous conversations with crew, reframing the dialogue of our inner critic, and recognizing unconscious biases.
The experience couldn’t have come at a better time in our professions. Elisha had just started a new managerial position and Kelly, who had always been an individual contributor, aspired to obtain a formal leadership role. Although we support different business areas in unique fields, we are both women within male-dominated industries. We were both successful within our careers at this point and were excited to learn ways in which we could enhance our skills and achieve professional goals going forward. We also quickly realized during the program that what got us here would not get us there, with there being where we envisioned our careers going and how we saw ourselves reaching our full potential. This specific program changed our perspectives on what that means and gave us the resources to clearly define who we are and what we stand for.
Identifying the direction we wanted to steer our careers, in addition to using learnings centered on how to plan and execute courageous conversations, continue to stand out as key takeaways from the program. We had the chance to practice these exchanges, and the more we practiced, the more we realized how impactful it was when developing others. Moreover, taking on courageous conversations is so imperative to improving a challenging situation, and we are now better equipped to handle them. Lastly, we received helpful reminders that something as simple as making the invisible, visible, can be a powerful mind shift that will lead you to a more successful outcome.
The advanced leadership development program for women has provided us with more than either of us expected. We are more prepared and confident in navigating our careers for having taken part in this initiative. Again, this is just one example of the many development opportunities offered at Vanguard.
More about the authors:
Kelly joined Vanguard directly out of college in 2007 and has been working in the Investment Management Group for the past three years. Kelly graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.
Elisha has been at Vanguard since 2012. She launched her career as a developer and shortly after moved into a technical lead role. Following these experiences, she transitioned to a project management position that gave her the opportunity to be a technical relationship manager for a large 401(k) client and now as a delivery manager, supporting cross-divisional capabilities and relationships for Vanguard Advice for Institutional. Prior to joining Vanguard, Elisha worked at various startups and financial companies also within the engineering and technology capacity for four years.