Is finding our “calling” a possibility at Vanguard?
Over a year ago, my professor from Columbia Business School challenged me and my classmates to turn our jobs into a “calling” rather than a career. The advice was opportune given that we were all in our second year of business school; some of us deciding between offers, others finding the right match.
He gave examples where work was a ‘means-to-an-end’ for some, but for others it was about making an impact: Hospital janitors going out of their way to make patients feel at home, concrete finishers striving for the perfect pour.
My mind quickly jumped to my father, who found his calling as a Cardiologist early on. Even at 80 years old, he still can’t wait to get out of bed and head to the Louisiana VA hospital to treat our nation’s veterans.
The gauntlet was thrown back to me. I had six months to graduate and find my post-MBA employer. Was I going to settle for a career where I would hit the snooze button several times each morning, or a calling where I’d wake up like a child excited on Christmas morning?
Upon graduating, my decision to choose Vanguard’s MBA Development Program hinged on whether I could turn this job into my very own calling, maybe even a place that would excite me enough that I would never hit the snooze button again. I wasn’t sure if I could see myself working at an investment management firm until 80 like my Dad at the VA, but I knew that Vanguard had a clear mission cultivated by its founder John Bogle: To take a stand for all investors, to treat them fairly, and to give them the best chance for investment success.
Moreover, employees signaled that the senior leadership here have always shared a constant focus on development and creating the right opportunities to help employees grow and succeed over the long term. But what struck me the most about Vanguard was that the MBA program was rotational, so I would get to experience three different roles before jumping in and committing. Could working at Vanguard potentially mean I would “never work another day in my life?”
Do what you’ll love, and you’ll never work another day in your life
Fast forward 15 months later; I am currently finishing up my third rotation in the MBA program at Vanguard. While it’s safe to say that I’ve done my best to make an impact and establish some sense of purpose, I’ve come to the realization that turning your career into a calling doesn’t simply happen overnight. It takes time, but there have been several ways that Vanguard has helped along the way:
Providing a never-ending learning opportunity
In my third and last rotation, I have had the opportunity to work on an international business assignment to help support the growth of our ETF business. I have travelled to Hong Kong, London and Malvern, where I worked side by side with the Portfolio Review Department, Sales and Advice teams. The learning opportunity was not just about understanding how our business strategies differ across regions; it was about understanding how to cultivate strong relationships and manage different working styles and viewpoints.
I also got to work with folks in Australia, Canada and Japan, waking up at odd hours to accommodate multiple time zones, and weaving in outside topics that seemed to transcend borders—sports, travel, and Vanguard’s mission!
Providing avenues to focus on self-development and well-being
Vanguard has always supported and encouraged me to work in the office that best suits my personal needs. I’ve been located at our robust Scottsdale location, and maintained close ties to Malvern (our headquarters) and London (our international headquarters). Working in the Scottsdale location allows me to stay close to family, enjoy over 300 days of sunny weather, and partake in outdoor activities—things that are important to my holistic well-being.
Some of my most inventive solutions to complex work-related problems are the result of long, thought-provoking hikes on Sedona’s Red Rocks, Camelback Mountains or time spent on the golf course. Surprisingly, productivity arises when you least suspect it!
While it’s unclear if every job will become someone’s lifelong calling, I know that there are steps we can take along the way to make our work a part of who we are, and that Vanguard will continue to support our endeavors in making a lasting impact on our investors and generating a culture of inclusivity. Ultimately, it’s up to us to continue to seek passion in how we serve…and while we may not all be collecting a salary after 80 years old, hopefully we can thank our Vanguard retirement accounts for keeping us afloat. 😉
All investing is subject to risk, including possible loss of principal.
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My Vanguard career began during a transition. A transition that involved moving to a new town and starting a life together with my now husband, Chris. As I prepared for the move, and for leaving my job, I knew I was looking for a company where I could grow and develop a lifelong career. That goal landed me in a Client Relationship Associate role in Vanguard’s Retail Services group.
As soon as I walked through the door on my first day, and began learning more about Vanguard, I connected with the core values of the company: to enable investors to achieve investment success. I loved talking to a variety of clients about how to invest their hard earned money in hopes they could someday achieve their investment goals—it made me feel like I was making a difference for them. Being new to the investment industry, the support and guidance from my early leaders solidified my interest in giving back the same support to other crew on their Vanguard journey. I’ll never forget contemplating my next career step, just a year or so into my new role one of my colleagues told me, “You should become a team leader–you would be a great leader.” This resonated, because I naturally care for others and want to help them succeed. Who knew a simple compliment could be a turning point for my career?
I worked hard the next few years to become a Vanguard leader; I attended trainings, connected with mentors and coaches, and met with crew all over the firm. Then, I was ready to apply for my next role, a leadership role. I felt empowered, excited and ready to take on the challenge. I landed a team leader role in Brokerage Services and was…terrified! I went into the challenge with all I had and luckily came out the other side as a successful leader with a team of high performing crew. Phew. Being a team leader was an awesome journey and it led me to yet another transition in my career…back to an individual contributor role when I least expected it.
I remember the call like it was yesterday, a former colleague from my Brokerage Services days had earned a promotion in a new role. Her role was going to become available and she thought I’d be a great fit. I was super curious to hear why she had thought of me, as I wasn’t actively seeking a new opportunity at that time and didn’t know her very well. We ended up having lunch to talk about the opportunity and the rest is history. A few weeks later, I was moving on to a new division after 5 years in our Retail division. I cried. I was so overcome with emotion on that last day (also because my team decided to package my 5 year anniversary celebration with my going away celebration), I was feeling so many emotions. Happiness, sadness, gratitude. I was happy, scared and most importantly, I was ready.
On my first day in my new division, Financial Advisor Services, I felt this electric energy and excitement. I made a few quick friends and was assimilating into my new role quite nicely, when suddenly I found out that after 3 months in the job, I was pregnant with our first child. Did I mention that we were in the throes of wedding planning too? “OMG. What am I going to do, how are we going to raise a child!? What about the wedding? How do I tell my boss? How is this all going to play out?” I was in panic mode, a huge life transition was happening at the same time as another huge life transition, at the same time as a career transition. I had to figure out a plan, and fast.
Ultimately, once I had some time to digest this new information, talk with some of my support network, I practiced resiliency and reframed my mind and thought—I can do this, I am grateful for this, this is meant to be. In a recent session I attended, Wharton Professor Adam Grant, talked about resiliency in transitions and how they are means of catapulting into success. When he said this, I reflected back to these days.
Fast forward to the end of my maternity leave, I had been home with our son, Will, for 4 wonderful months. He was the perfect baby, and slept, ate, and traveled well. I was loving my new job as his mom. As I prepared to return to work in the role that I had left, another serendipitous situation arose. A promotional opportunity within my current team. Initially, I thought, “I am so not doing that to myself, I am not ready, I already have no idea how I will juggle work with all my new responsibilities at home…” The excuses were pouring out of me. Quickly, I realized I had to check myself and take a step back to look at the broader picture and think about what I really wanted and could achieve. I decided to go for the job, and it has proved to be one of the best career decisions I have made. That role that helped me to push myself harder than ever before.
After a few years in that role, and enrolling in an MBA program, the leadership spark returned and I was ready to get back to my true passion, leading people. Thanks to a vast network of coaches and mentors, and the experience I had gained over the past 5 years, I earned a new role. However, I was due with my second son about 4 weeks later and was in the midst of my MBA program. This time I thought—no big deal. I can handle this! I took 6 months off with Ben and enjoyed every moment with him, knowing that when I returned to my brand new job, I would figure it all out with the help of my amazing husband, classmates, colleagues and managers.
As I reflect on my career, I realize how the moments when the walls felt like they were going to come crashing down have turned into my most memorable and successful moments both in my personal life and in my career. In times of change and transition we can choose to let it break us down or chose to grow with the change and use it as a catapult to success. There have been some tough times during each of the transitions but through those pivotal moments, I’ve learned and grown the most. I am proud to say I have used them as a trajectory for success and look forward to what exciting changes and opportunities are ahead of me.
My Story: Vanguard’s Chief Investment Officer Greg Davis
In his last careers blog,Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer Greg Davis uncovered key moments from his time at Vanguard. In this blog, Greg looks back at his upbringing, his early job history, and why he ultimately came to–and stayed at–Vanguard.
I was born in Germany and raised in a U.S. military family. We were a multicultural, multilingual family; I spoke German with my mom and English with my dad. Of course both parents understood the other language, so there was no pulling one over on either of them. Both of my parents worked, and I was co-raised by my maternal grandmother who spoke primarily German. My grandmother was an instrumental part of my childhood and spent a lot of time with me at home. The summer before second grade, we moved to the U.S. and settled in South Jersey.
Throughout my childhood and young adult years, I looked up to my older brother a lot. He achieved a great deal of success in the field of computer science, and he did it without a college degree. In fact, I’m the first person in my family to attend a four-year college. But because I so admired my older brother, I first decided to follow in his footsteps and start my high school education at a vocational-technical high school, where I could spend half my day working on computers. As I was thinking about college, initially my plan was to study computer science or engineering. Once I arrived at Penn State, I loved the math side of my education but found myself less interested in chemistry and mechanical drawing. As a result, I decided to change direction and focus on studying business. Post-graduation, I went into the insurance industry as an underwriter, followed by a stint as a premium auditor. While both roles were great experiences, I still felt as though there was something else that would be a better long-term fit for me.
During these years, I would periodically drive by Vanguard’s campus. Although I never thought of pursuing Vanguard as an employer, I was curious about their trading floor and Vanguard’s approach to investment management. I started researching the markets and the investment side of the insurance industry. I had no idea I was planning my future career.
In order to break into the investment side of the business, I realized I had to pursue an advanced degree, so I went back to school to pursue my MBA at Wharton. This afforded me an opportunity for a Wall Street internship in Fixed Income Sales & Trading. Fortunately the internship was successful, and I was able to leverage that experience into a full-time opportunity at a large NYC Investment bank in a Fixed-Income Trading rotational program. My timing wasn’t great, as shortly after starting the program the Asia Financial Crisis swept around the globe, leaving a very significant mark on many of the Wall Street Banks. Our rotational program was abruptly ended and I was placed into a non-trading role and I was extremely unhappy. The truth is, I felt as though I was settling. I decided to start looking at opportunities at other firms. Then a childhood friend, who happened to be a Vanguard recruiter, asked for my resume. I was hesitant at first, but she finally convinced me to meet with a man named Ken Volpert, who at the time ran Vanguard’s bond index team. During the interview, Ken talked about career options, Vanguard’s investment philosophy, and company growth, but it was something else that piqued my curiosity. Ken spoke about how dedicated he is to developing people and how he makes sure his crew get opportunities to learn and grow. At that moment, I knew I wanted to work for him and Vanguard.
I started as a trader and quickly saw how my values aligned to Vanguard’s investment principles. Not only had I found a firm whose mission I connected with, but I also discovered how many people advocated for me to get exposure to projects, resources, tools, and new experiences. I loved being part of the trading world–getting involved in the markets, owning something right away and seeing it through to success. As I grew and moved into bigger roles, I was able to then provide personal and professional development skills—those that I learned and admired from Ken—to other crew that I’ve led and mentored. It’s refreshing to see the focus on development come full circle.
Because I believe so fervently in developing others–including leaders of leaders–often someone will ask me, “What do you do when someone isn’t performing well?” I advise leaders to start by having an honest discussion with their team member about that person’s performance–what’s not going well, what they need to do to improve, and how you as a leader can support them. There seems to be a misconception that nice cultures don’t give strong feedback, but that’s actually a rather unkind approach. No one should ever have to guess why their career isn’t moving forward.
Of course, there were setbacks along the way. I recall a time when our bond index funds experienced a period of substantial underperformance, bonds that we owned were being downgraded to junk (below investment grade credit rating). It’s quite distressing to see something you’re responsible for underperform. Luckily, the team rallied and reengineered our approach to bond indexing. As painful as that experience was, it allowed the team to learn and improve our process, which helped us be well-prepared for the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. That team-focused mentality is why I’ve stayed at Vanguard for over 15 years. In addition to hurdles, there are also moments of pride: watching my team rise through the ranks to become officers and senior leaders. I’ve also loved watching Vanguard grow–adding a personal advisor business and expanding outside the U.S. This means better outcomes for our clients.
Moving to the U.S. from Germany–and having to quickly improve my ability to read, write, and speak English–taught me a lesson I’ve carried with me from childhood until now: If you’re comfortable, you’re not growing.
You never know, your future just might be in that building you drive by every day.
I recently celebrated my three year anniversary with Vanguard and what a journey it has been! In order to understand how I got here, I think it is best to start at the beginning.
I attended Arizona State University and, like most students, held a variety of jobs and internships to help me figure out what kind of career I wanted. I was getting a degree in Business but wasn’t sure where my skills would fit or what I would be happiest doing. During this time, I had three experiences that helped shape my career path and ultimately led me to Vanguard.
My first opportunity was a leadership internship with a large retail chain that was based in the Phoenix area. I got to spend three months in a retail store shadowing the Store Manager, getting to know the daily operations, and running the store on my own by the end of my time there. This experience opened my eyes to the potential of a career in leadership because I loved working with the team every day and I enjoyed overcoming diverse and frequent challenges. However, I came to the realization that standing on my feet for 9+ hours a day was physically taxing and the long-term career growth in a retail store is limited.
My second adventure was in a commission-based sales position where I sold bridal gowns. I know what you’re thinking: “Wasn’t that job fun and glamorous? Was it just like the shows on television?” After the initial excitement of working in the bridal industry wore off, I was left with the pressure and anxiety of going to work every day knowing that if I didn’t close a sale, I wasn’t going to get paid. There were weeks where I made great money and weeks where I couldn’t pay my bills. I came to the realization that I cared about my clients far too much and I struggled to morally “close the deal” when I sensed hesitation on their end.
My final opportunity before arriving at Vanguard was an internship with another financial services firm. I worked in a branch office helping a few advisors run their books of business. I loved learning about finance and working with clients but I realized that a career as a commission-based advisor wasn’t for me. I saw first-hand the same pressure and anxiety that I had experienced in bridal gown sales and knew my time with this firm had to come to an end.
After graduation, I embarked on my journey to find a career I’d enjoy long-term. Thanks to my internship with financial advisors, I knew finance was something I was passionate about, and began my search for financial services firms in the Phoenix area. When I found a job posting for Vanguard, I did some research on the company and the role since I didn’t know anyone there to reach out to. I read great things about the company culture, benefits package, and unifying mission but was hesitant that it would be a good fit for me. Setting aside my fear, I interviewed in March of 2015 for a front line position serving clients by phone and was extended an offer!
My first day at Vanguard was May 11, 2015 and I vividly remember the fear and uncertainty I felt walking onto campus that day. But, I took a deep breath and stepped into a room full of friendly faces for my Corporate Orientation. I knew there was no turning back now!
One year down at Vanguard, I realized that I connected with the mission, loved the people I worked with, and appreciated the client-focused mentality. Not only that, but I became significantly better at managing my own finances because of the extensive training and guidance that Vanguard provided.
I started exploring career development opportunities and the wide variety of career paths that Vanguard offered. I knew I loved working with clients but couldn’t get the pull to leadership off my mind from my internship a few years prior. Like many people, I had to apply for and be declined from a few jobs to eventually land in the exact opportunity I was meant to be in. I went on to spend a year as an Assigned Representative serving high-net-worth clients and getting to run my own book of business. Getting to know my clients, their families, and their goals brought me joy that was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I laughed, cried, and celebrated with them through all of the major milestones they experienced. However, it was during this time I realized my heart was set on leadership. I was lucky enough to have a great leader who supported me, challenged me, and helped me prepare for my first leadership role at Vanguard.
After a stressful few weeks of networking, applying, and interviewing, I became a Team Leader on November 20, 2017. I walked in on that first day with similar feelings to my first day at Vanguard. I hardly knew anyone in this new department and I was worried about gaining my teams’ trust. To my relief, I was welcomed with open arms by a supportive peer group and wonderful team of crew.
One of the most memorable experiences I’ve had as a new leader at Vanguard was attending Leading Crew to Success. This week long training is held in the Pennsylvania office and Vanguard flies leaders from all over the world in to network and learn together. During this week, I spent countless hours getting to know and learning from other leaders from all levels, departments, and countries. We had fireside chats with Senior Staff, engaging discussions on leadership development topics, we competed in fun teambuilding activities, and capped the week off with a “graduation ceremony” with CEO Tim Buckley. This experience opened my eyes to the diverse group of inclusive, engaging, and talented leaders at Vanguard. It was amazing to see that regardless of what department we are in or where we live, we are all working towards the same goal of seeing our crew, clients, and organization succeed.
I have now been in my new role for ten months and, without a doubt, can say that it is my favorite job I have ever had. I face exciting challenges, learn something new every day, and get to work with the most amazing people. I am so grateful for the investment Vanguard has made in my personal and professional development over the last few years and continues to make every day. Currently, with the help of Vanguard’s tuition assistance, I am pursing an MBA in Organizational Leadership to support my long term leadership aspirations. I can honestly say that three years ago I had no idea that I would have ended up here, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Vanguard Leadership Development Programs’ case club event
When I became a manager in Vanguard’s rotational Leadership Development Programs, I heard about a very special week in April called Leadership Week. After just a few weeks in my role, I started to receive intriguing invitations to events like Case Club, Inclusion, and a Fireside chat with our CEO Tim Buckley. Additional invites followed for teambuilding activities and fellowship, where I would get to meet and build relationships with all the participants across our development programs – Investment Management, Acceleration into Financial Professional, Emerging Leader, Technology Leadership, Financial Advisor, and MBA. To say I was excited was an understatement!
After I enthusiastically accepted all of the invitations, I received the wonderful news that I was chosen to be a Team Advisor for our day long Case Club event. I will admit, my first question was – what exactly is Case Club? Case Club is a day dedicated to defining and analyzing the problem of a chosen case. Crew from our leadership development programs work in teams to make creative recommendations for a particular case, and then present their findings to a panelist of tenured Vanguard leaders and our MBA program participants. Building relationships, tons of learning, team building AND a catered breakfast and lunch? Sign me up!
As a Team Advisor, I have to be honest – my team rocked! Renamed Team 1.06, for their extraordinary skill and speed during our teambuilding event, my team was compiled of crew from all three US Vanguard sites (PA, AZ, and NC) and multiple programs. Overall, I was impressed with the caliber of thought leadership and collaboration of all participants.
Lindsey G. shared her experience, “Diversity in all aspects is an asset for any company, and Case Club is an incredible example of how Vanguard values this mindset. With a variety of backgrounds, knowledge, and experiences, it was a true privilege to brainstorm in such a comprehensive way.” Claire B. echoed, “I especially appreciated the opportunity to work with and learn from my peers in the other specialty programs across all three of Vanguard’s US offices. The seven of us were able to tackle our business case from many angles because of our unique experiences and interests.” I couldn’t agree more with these participants! I was in awe to observe this exceptional group of crew build enriching and positive relationships, leverage their subject expertise with humility, and take a partnered team approach to the problem, all the while still able to challenge ideas and solutions.
As a Leadership Development Program manager, I especially appreciated seeing the level of participant confidence continue to build throughout the day as teams’ analyzed the case and built their final presentation. Kyle C. shared, “The highlight of the case study for me was walking out of the presentation and the team unanimously agreed that it went even better than we had practiced.” Verity F. added, “The opportunity to enhance our ability to present, appreciate, and respectfully debate ideas will be invaluable as we move forward with our careers at Vanguard.” David M. summed it up best, “Case club was definitely the highlight of my week!”
The entire development program leadership team strives to provide a positive learning environment where our crew can be constantly challenged through developmental and growth experiences while they navigate their career path within Vanguard. Matt J. shared his perspective, “As a member of the MBA Leadership Development program I had the opportunity to sit on a panel and listen to presentations from groups made up of all the Vanguard programs. It provided me an insightful opportunity to get into the brilliant minds of our crew. I had several “lightbulb” moments as they walked me through their thought process and decisions when solving specific challenges. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to participate, and look forward to sharing some of the new ways of thinking I observed with those that I work with every day.”
Lindsey G.’s final reflections are a true testament to Vanguard’s culture of building relationships, teamwork, and creative problem solving, “Sure, we will remember certain parts of the case, but I will never forget my extremely talented teammates and our ability to work together so well towards a common goal.” Way to go Case Club participants! It was an honor and a privilege to coach, support and lead our participants throughout the day.
If you enjoyed this post, check out more from our #LifeatVanguard Blog. And if you’re ready for a more rewarding, engaging, meaningful career, learn more about our Leadership Development Programs 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.
Has the universe ever given you a sign? An unmistakable, it’s-time-to-act type of signal? Well, as I was sitting at Vanguard’s Leadership Symposium in Philadelphia last fall, a topic hit my radar for the third time in the span of a few months. And since good things come in threes (right?), I committed then and there to take action – and my kids and I are glad I did. Yup, in this Vanguard blog, I’m talking about my kids. Let me explain…
I started my Vanguard career in April 2001 working in our Legal department in Malvern, PA. A lawyer by training, I was initially our “intellectual property guy,” though over the course of 9 years, my responsibilities grew and evolved until I was leading our Corporate Legal Services group and reporting to our General Counsel.
Because Vanguard encourages its crew to have a breadth of experiences, I had begun exploring leadership opportunities outside of our Legal department and outside of our PA campus. So in 2010, I moved to Vanguard’s Institutional business and, at the same time, my family and I (wife, four kids, one dog) moved to Scottsdale, Arizona. I’m very grateful to Vanguard for the fantastic opportunity to grow! Moving outside of my comfort zone work-wise and moving across the country were huge changes for us as a family. In many ways, these shared experiences of change brought us closer together.
Of course, I’ve always been involved in my kids’ lives – reading to them, playing games, doing yard work together, teaching them to drive (two so far!), etc. And I’ve coached all four of them on various youth soccer teams – I’ve lost count, but something like 18 teams overall. My work at Vanguard was always flexible enough that I could do these. But as the kids were growing older, I was getting worried that I was missing something. Enter Stew Friedman…
Stewart Friedman is a professor at Wharton and author of several books on the topic of having a richer life by integrating elements of home and work. I’m summarizing, but his view is that you can do real-world exercises that improve performance and increase your leadership capacity by better integrating all parts of your life. It’s a powerful and motivating message. I knew Vanguard wanted me (and all its leaders and crew) to have a richer life. I remember receiving this message three distinct times – at a Vanguard executive development program, during a conversation with other Vanguard leaders, and at the Leadership Symposium (where Professor Friedman himself presented!). It was time to act.
One of the things I did was ask each of my children to write down a handful of things they would like to do with me, just the two of us. They all came up with fantastic ideas, fun and interesting things – why hadn’t I done this sooner?!? My 17 year-old daughter, Maddie, had a few ideas – among them were to learn about money and investing, and for the two of us to read a book together and then discuss, like a book club. So with Stew Friedman’s guidance, we “integrated” these two ideas and decided to read a book together about money and investing!
Maddie and I read The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko. Though written in the mid-1990s, its core lessons still ring true – the keys to financial independence involve living within your means, being frugal, and spending time on budgeting and planning, among others. They were great lessons for Maddie and helpful reminders for me. And wonderfully aligned to Vanguard’s investment philosophy and mission as an organization.
Here’s what Maddie had to say about the experience: “I’ve had a lot of fun doing the book club with Dad. When he asked what we could do together, I thought of books because we both like to read, and thought about financial things because I don’t know a lot about it and he works at Vanguard. Now, not only has he taught me about managing money, but we’ve had some meaningful and grown-up conversations beyond that, too. It brought us closer together and, to me, reinforced the value of reaching out to those you love.”
It worked so well that Maddie and I are now on our 3rd book, Mindset by Carol S. Dweck. We are having a wonderful time exploring and connecting over these books – and discussing life in general. I’m a lucky and super-proud dad, and I’m glad for the opportunity to reflect on that with Father’s Day just around the corner. Thank you universe (okay, really thank you Stew Friedman and Vanguard) for giving me that unmistakable sign!
Omar S. heads the U.S. Investment Grade Taxable Research effort at Vanguard and was selected as a Toigo Fellow while getting his MBA at Columbia Business School. In this blog, he shares what the Toigo Foundation means to him as well as a recap of a recent event.
During Catapult, I was one of three panelists in the Investment Management Career webinar, where we talked about our respective career journeys, including my journey at Vanguard. We heard from Vanguard leaders, including CEO Tim Buckley and CIO Greg Davis, who shared their personal Vanguard stories, their perspective on the markets and the importance of diverse thought and talent. Additionally, the audience had the opportunity to learn more about careers in finance, particularly at Vanguard, whether it be full-time positions or prominent MBA programs.
The evening reception was a great way for participants to connect and hear testimonials from crew across various Vanguard divisions and learn how Vanguard is much more than an investment management firm. For Vanguard crew, it served as an avenue to learn the past, present, and future aspirations of an impressive group of applicants with deep, varied experience across the top business schools in the country. I often tell people that, financial assistance aside, the more valuable aspects of the Toigo Fellowship throughout my MBA experience were the small, intimate gatherings with leading corporate sponsors. I’ve long felt it offered a chance to have meaningful connections and conversations with potential employers, and these impactful discussions increased the chance to secure summer internships and full-time positions. We worked toward replicating that experience at Vanguard for the Toigo finalists, and I believe we succeeded.
The second day of Catapult saw several panel discussions and afforded Vanguard an opportunity to not only continue engaging with Toigo, but also for staff panelists for the Investment Management, Social Impact Investing, Emerging Markets, FinTech and Foundations & Endowment panels to hear perspectives from those on the front lines in those specialties. The day also included a Career Connections segment, where Toigo members heard insights from the co-head of Vanguard’s MBA Development Program and two current MBA rotation candidates. Vanguard’s final day of involvement included a Career Expo and Career Coaching Panel where we could, again, talk more to Toigo Fellow finalists and alums about Vanguard’s MBA opportunities as well as our culture, philosophy, and exciting growth.
I was humbled by everyone’s willingness to help, and the coordinated effort between Human Resources and the businesses solidified a great few days with Toigo and served as a foundation from which we can certainly grow. I thought it was a wonderful collective effort and we received a lot of positive feedback.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, learn about our MBA careers opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
National Girl Scout Day: Inspiring and empowering the next generation
March 12th is National Girl Scout Day, a day celebrating the organization’s empowerment of girls and its positive impacts to communities across the country. To recognize the day, Vanguard shares this story of how our leaders inspired the next generation at a special Girl Scout event.
A common bond that many Vanguard crew members share is the desire to connect with and make a difference in our local communities. Vanguard encourages crew to prioritize community outreach through volunteer service and inspiring the next generation of talent. Susan M., a graphic design manager in International Marketing Services, saw an opportunity to do just this through her daughter’s Girl Scouts troop. “After comparing the Girl Scout organization’s core values with Vanguard’s, I noticed many similarities. I realized that there was an opportunity to help young women take their first step in their journey as a leader by leveraging my talented colleagues.” said Susan.
Sharing our journey
Susan worked closely with the Girl Scouts organization to create an event where the girls were treated to a panel of talented women from various Vanguard departments, who shared their leadership journeys. The panel included leaders from Investment Management, Marketing & Communications, and International Marketing. In addition, the audience received a step-by-step how-to guide, and, of course, a custom Girl Scouts patch.
During the panel discussion, each leader explained their unique career path and what steps they took to become the leader they are today. This helped the girls think more deeply about what qualities they possess. The panel members were sure to highlight some of the less obvious leadership qualities like observation and listening skills. The discussion was interactive, complete with time dedicated to Q&A.
Envisioning their future
Following the panel discussion, the girls were broken into small groups and asked to create a “dream board.” This helped the girls conceptualize and express their dreams and aspirations through images and words—emphasizing the important lesson to the girls that their goals are attainable. Along with creating the boards, the girls were also tasked with looking at their dream jobs at a 360 degree angle: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Throughout the activity, the leaders circulated around the room and asked questions to help the girls envision a logical path towards their goals. One of the women on the panel, Stephanie G., said, “The dream board activity was an amazing way to get the girls thinking about how they could be a leader in the future. There was one girl who aspires to be an author. Another girl talked about being a scientist. And another about photography and traveling the world. I think everyone was smiling by the end of the night.”
A passion for development
When I asked the panel to reflect on the event, their responses spoke volumes about how passionate they are about developing talent and sharing their knowledge and experience. The members of the panel seemed to benefit from the event just as much as the attendees.
Rachel C. also shared her positive thoughts about the event. “I enjoyed the event both personally and professionally. I was able to stand beside some of my favorite peers and represent female leadership at Vanguard. An event like this one shows that Vanguard cares about the development of young women.”
Sharing our expertise with the next generation is one way Vanguard crew connect with our communities. Learn more about how Vanguard helps communities have the best chance for success. And if you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.