After working as an engineer for over 12 years, I decided to completely change careers and pursue my MBA full time. Why? I wanted to do work that I was good at, and passionate about. The thought of making a major career pivot was exciting, complex and risky at the same time. Where could I combine my aspirations for general management with my passion for helping people with their personal finances? Is it possible to transfer the skills that I acquired as a manufacturing engineer, technical sales engineer, and product manager? Or would I have to start over? How would I get up to speed quickly enough to make a meaningful contribution?
To take a stand for all investors, to treat them fairly, and to give them the best chance for investment success.
This sounds a lot like my passion for people and their success with personal finance! And this mission is not just hearsay, it is the foundation for the work that gets done each day. For example, when I worked in the Institutional division, we were focused on helping plan participants achieve retirement success. When I worked in Enterprise Finance, we were focused on monitoring how well we were performing as a company for the benefit of our clients (fund performance, cost, client loyalty and risk management). Now I am working in Client Experience…I’m sure you get the point.
A supportive squad
There were 15 other professionals who joined the MBA Development program with me. Their academic and professional accomplishments have enriched my experience. This group has been my “speed dial” for many things like: learning the Vanguard organization, understanding various aspects of the financial services industry, and just getting connected and acclimated to a new working and living environment.
The additional benefit is that there are many cadres that have preceded us and they continue to make themselves available – sharing their insights to ensure that our experience is a success.
A quality offer
All leadership development programs are not created equal. These are some distinct elements of Vanguard’s approach to MBA development:
Program Qualifications – Vanguard looks for candidates with more pre-MBA work experience than most companies. This was very compelling for someone who worked for many years prior to business school. It was a signal to me that Vanguard values my past experience and provides opportunities for crew to transfer their skill sets.
Rotational Assignments – There is a lot of work that goes into matching participants and assignments at Vanguard. We are placed in departments that align our strengths, experiences, interests and even development opportunities, thus creating meaningful and unique on-the-job training.
Development (beyond the job) – The MBA Development program has created additional opportunities to enhance our professional development through: industry discussions, leader overviews, specialty workshops/trainings, assessments & feedback, MBA buddies, and corporate mentors.
There are other benefits to working at Vanguard (people & culture), but this is supposed to be a blog and not a book. In four days, I will celebrate my one year anniversary at Vanguard. As I reflect back on the excitement, complexity, and risk, one thing’s for sure – I would make the same choice all over again.
Check out this video to learn more about the MBA Development Program!
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, learn more about our MBA programs at www.vanguardjobs.com.
Meet a leader, be a leader: Inspiring and empowering the next generation
A common bond that many Vanguard crewmembers share is the desire to connect and interact within our local communities. Vanguard encourages its crew to prioritize community outreach through charity work 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 the “Meet a Leader, Be a Leader” event. 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 to get the girls to think deeper 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. “Meet a Leader, Be a Leader was an event that I enjoyed 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.”
For everyone who didn’t find their dream job on the first try
When I graduated college, there was a lot of pressure to make big decisions, to choose the right path, to triumphantly launch into my career. But let’s be realistic, it’s tough to truly understand what it’s going to be like to take up a specific profession right after college. Assuming you know you want to work immediately after college (instead of the perfectly reasonable choices of going back to school or dedicating a year of service), the options can be dizzying. As a marketing major, I knew I wanted to work in the field, but had no idea where to start.
I ultimately found a role in the mortgage-lending arm of a large financial services company but, two uninspiring years into the job, I realized it was time for a change. I’d love to say that I sought greener pastures after recognizing the disconnect between my values and the mission of the organization, but the truth is the firm was having widespread layoffs (and a government bailout), as a result of the 2008 recession. Two years out of college and seeking another job, I now knew how to ask better questions. How strong are an organization’s values? What is attractive about the company’s culture? Does the firm invest in its employees? But the most important question of all is this: Where do I want my career to lead, and will this next position move me closer to that goal?
For me, the answers led to joining Vanguard.
I ended up taking a client service role, and a few short weeks into the job, I began to realize how special this company is. As I grew into the role, I found they shared both my dedication to our community and a focus on ensuring I had the tools I needed to be successful. Now, almost 10 years later, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Since then, my career goals have evolved a bit. However, each time an opportunity came along, I followed the choice that moved me closer to my objective. (Important disclaimer: sometimes that meant not taking the job, which Vanguard gives me the freedom to do.)
Today, I work in our Retail Marketing department as a project manager, pursuing my original passion from college. On the way here, I have had the opportunity to be a people leader, to get my MBA, and to become a Certified Financial PlannerTM. I’ve worked directly with clients, helping them achieve investment success. I continue to volunteer in the community, helping to prepare low-income individuals’ taxes through Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA).
So it took me a couple tries to find my perfect fit. For many others it might take a few more than that. If you go to work each day feeling disconnected from the mission of your company, feel your work and your skillset are misaligned, or simply want a change, I recommend giving Vanguard a look. Regardless of where you are on your career journey, it might just be that next step towards your dream job.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
To wrap up National Career Development month, Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer Greg Davis offers insights into key moments from his time at Vanguard.
One of my favorite parts of National Career Development month has been reading other crew members’ meaningful career experiences. Kristin L. shared the importance of gratitude towards those who helped shaped her successes. I learned how Amy M.’s military background drove her accomplishments in civilian life. A realization about company culture led Dan K.to become a longtime crew member. And Jordan W. expressed how a supportive work environment can lead to significant achievements.
Now, I would like to continue the trend and share the moments that influenced my professional journey:
Knowing when to let go.
During the early part of my career, I was leading a small team of traders in our Fixed Income Group and it was my first time as a manager. Since I was accustomed to more technically driven responsibilities, I knew I had to shift my mindset to a people focus. A great boss gave me some very perceptive advice, “When your traders can do the job 80% as well as you, let them do it.” I realized I had to learn when to give up some control. It was an eye-opening moment.
It can be tough as a leader to let go at times, but I found that this approach has multiple benefits: it frees you up to tackle other more strategic issues that need your attention and it shows your team that you have confidence in their abilities. While it may be faster to do some tasks yourself in the short-run, teaching someone to do it on their own is a better long term strategy for the entire team. True leadership requires the humility to accept handing over the reins.
On successful teams, each member knows they’re essential.
Another memorable moment happened when I began working under Tim Buckley, Vanguard’s Chief Investment Officer at the time. Tim is very forward looking and he taught me to be deliberate about building the right team – it should be composed of talented collaborators who have the ability to run together towards a common goal. Because of Tim’s example, I often stress the importance of developing people, it’s a critical element for long-term investment success. But what do you do when you discover a member of the team isn’t performing at the right level?
Ultimately it comes down to continuously growing as a team and acknowledging when someone needs additional coaching. I have found that being candid is appreciated, even if it is an uncomfortable conversation initially. We should always remember that giving feedback enables someone to understand their strengths and opportunity areas, which are critical to their long term success.
Always consider what needs to happen now to be successful in the future.
As a final thought, I want to share some advice around another big moment – choosing your next role. As you assess your career goals and dreams, ask yourself three questions:
What are you passionate about?
What are you good at?
Which job leverages both of these?
When you find a position that combines your interests and talents, you have found your dream job. But, the key to answering these questions effectively is self-awareness. You may be passionate about music, for example, but unable to sing a single note on key. Identify how much time and energy you want to invest in developing skills before pursuing a role or industry.
A word of thanks.
I am thankful to have had opportunities to serve in multiple roles in areas that I was very passionate about and that aligned well with my skill-set. But it wouldn’t have been the same without the right team, the right leaders, and the right company.
How my time in the Marines shaped my civilian career
Vanguard strives to ensure veterans joining our crew have tools and support to develop new skills and thrive in their careers. As part of National Career Development Month, crew member Amy M. shares her story of moving from military service to a civilian career.
Like most people who served in the United States armed forces, I take a great deal of pride in my military background. I’m always excited to share my experiences as a United States Marine and answer the wide range of questions that tend to surface. I find that many people are interested in learning about my transition from the military to the civilian workforce or the most valuable advice I received. Perhaps my favorite question has become “How has your military experience influenced your civilian career?” because it is – without question – an experience I harken back to every single day as a Vanguard leader.
For me, my military experience has been a critical success factor (both personally and professionally) and over time, I’ve come to realize just how much it has enriched and influenced my leadership journey. The experience has enabled me to espouse the strong virtues of both military and Vanguard leadership philosophies: valuing core purpose and shared vision, exhibiting moral courage, understanding the true concept of “team”, and demonstrating the strategic agility to achieve results.
Leadership development is a vital component of military training. A fabric of the culture and core to service men and women alike, 14 distinct leadership traits are instilled into Marines and translated into the lives we lead as citizens. I believe they parallel Vanguard’s core leadership values and I continue to hold these principles in high regard and seek to practice them daily in my leadership journey. Below are just a few of the leadership traits that have become part of my DNA as a Vanguard leader.
Dependability: Counted on always.
Whether in battle or in our communities, Marines develop solutions – not excuses. As warriors and as citizens, Marines can always be counted on.
Integrity: The cornerstone of character.
Nothing you can learn about leadership is as important as earning the trust of your Marines. To lead Marines is to follow principles, acting with honor when all eyes are on you, or when no one is watching. Great leaders must first be great men and women, accountable to the mission and those who follow.
Initiative: Every Marine is a leader.
When there’s a job to do, no Marine waits to be told what to do. Whether on the front lines or the home front, Marines look for ways to improve the situation at hand.
Unselfishness: Team before self. There are few endeavors as selfless as becoming a United States Marine. This team-first mentality becomes part of every Marine’s DNA, from the battlefield they serve on, to the communities they serve in.
Knowledge: Know more today than yesterday.
Without knowledge, judgment is reduced to intuition; decision-making becomes nothing more than a guess. On the battlefield or in the business world, those who are constantly learning and seeking self-improvement find the most success.
Enthusiasm: Motivation is contagious.
There’s no such thing as an ordinary mission for Marines – anything worth doing is worth giving it your all. To carry out a task in the Marine Corps is to motivate everyone to believe in it, thereby increasing the likelihood of mission success.
What life experiences have influenced your career? As we approach the end of the year, what will you reflect upon and how will you align your personal values with your talents and career interests as you think about the year ahead?
Our internal networking group, VetsConnect, strives to create a sense of community for active duty, veteran, and civilian crew members. If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
It’s not why we came to Vanguard, but why we’ve stayed
It’s our senior year at San Diego State University and Gonzaga University. With the excitement of graduation approaching and the prospect of a new career in Finance, we couldn’t wait to start the next chapter of our lives as working professionals.
From the moment we stepped onto Vanguard’s campus, we knew that we had made the right choice! In Corporate Orientation, several of the leaders mentioned the possibilities for further involvement within the company. After completing the onboarding program, we realized Vanguard was everything we had hoped it would be and more. Our new team leaders took the time to get to know us as individuals, coached and developed us, and helped us navigate through our first year at Vanguard in Retail Services.
After getting involved in Vanguard’s Crew Resource Groups (CRGs), community service campaigns, and coaching and developing the future talent of Vanguard, we knew it was time to step into our first leadership role. When we began expressing interest in people leadership, our mentors, peers, and leaders were more than supportive. They offered even more informal leadership opportunities, allowing us to strengthen our coaching mindset and access an even greater network of leaders to learn from. We each met with leaders within Personal Investor and knew we would be able to bloom within this department as we led crew through their own personal Vanguard journeys.
After we became leaders in Personal Investor within the Retail Investor Group, the development didn’t stop there. Each leader in the department shared their best practices with us, we always had someone to bounce ideas off of and our suggestions were always welcomed. Most recently, Vanguard flew us out to Philadelphia for a Leadership Symposium. We had the opportunity to hear from our current and future CEO, along with many other inspirational speakers. We came back energized and grateful for the investment Vanguard makes in leaders and crew.
Today we have 11 crew starting their first official day in Personal Investor and we couldn’t be happier to be a part of their journey. Standing by as they talk to their first clients, we can’t help but smile knowing they made the right choice to get on board!
-Amberlee P. and Nicole P., both Team Leaders in Personal Investor