As a student, I always wondered what it’d be like to transition into the real-world. More specifically for me, into the corporate world.
To help bridge the gap from education to employment, my university offers 6-month co-ops – an opportunity to work full time and receive college credit alternating with periods of classroom study. Entering my junior year at college, I knew it was time to pick a company where I could learn new skills and how to make that big transition. But, which company should I choose? Was a small company or large corporation a better fit? Which industry was right for me? So many questions were running through my mind. After some research, I found Vanguard had a position I was interested in. I worked hard on my application and earned an interview. I vividly remember driving to my interview and wondering if I would fit in and what working at Vanguard would be like.
Interviewing & interning
From the moment I walked in the door, I was met with a warm reception. I remember my interview like it was yesterday–I told my interviewer that I was interested in personal growth, professional development, and purpose. We had a great conversation about my goals and Vanguard’s mission. To this day, we still keep in touch and discuss what’s going on in our lives – both professionally and personally. My relationship with her was instrumental in navigating through my co-op at Vanguard and one of the main reasons I chose to accept a position at Vanguard after graduation!
During my co-op, I worked in Institutional Marketing and Communications. My manager was excellent. He connected me with so many crew members, many of whom became trusted advisors who I still consult before big decisions. These mentors have helped me strategize ways to turn my weaknesses into strengths, challenged me to look through a long-term lens when making decisions, and ultimately pushed me to apply for one of Vanguard’s Leadership Development Programs.
Why it mattered
My 6 month co-op came to a close, and as I returned to Drexel for my senior year, I kept in contact with many crew members. The following summer, I returned to Vanguard as an intern with Vanguard Charitable to support a busy giving season. In such a close-knit environment, coupled with the holiday spirit, I developed friendships across the organization. Because of those close relationships, I agreed to return part-time to a role in Research & Strategy. I continue to catch-up with my old team whenever our schedules allow.
As I was entering my last semester at Drexel, I shared my excitement at my college graduation on LinkedIn and thanked those that helped me cross the finish line. Little did I know, the reach would be in the thousands. Hundreds of crew members liked and commented, welcoming me into the company. The fact that crew members who I never met before were so enthusiastic and accepting was humbling. It reassured me that I found a company with a sense of community and family.
The little things count
Another uplifting moment happened while I was struggling to find a conference room. It was the end of the day and most of the office had already headed home. I clearly looked lost, reading every sign to find the meeting location. A woman rushing to catch an elevator paused and asked, “Looking for a room?” I nodded, a little embarrassed, and told her the room number. Instead of just pointing me in the right direction, she took the time to personally walk me to the room. This may seem like a small thing, but to someone who is new, it can mean the world when someone shows a little kindness.
A few months later, I came aboard as a full-time employee. When I came back to the Malvern campus, previous co-workers and managers were excited to connect and hear my updates. That reassured me that our relationships were not static–they were active and lively. And since my start date, I’ve connected with so many people across divisions and in various positions.
Coming out of college, there is a sense of angst and wonder around the corporate environment. But my fears disappeared once I came to Vanguard. From my first face-to-face interaction with crew to launching my career here, I have cultivated and deepened so many valuable relationships.
My family and friends often ask me to explain what it means to work as an investment analyst in the Investment Strategy Group at Vanguard. I answer by saying that my job is to develop thought leadership. Now, if you’re not sure what the phrase thought leadership means, you’re not alone. When I first joined Vanguard, I didn’t understand what it meant either. Essentially, within my role, thought leadership means investment research that aims to go beyond what’s already been published within the industry or showcases a differentiated opinion. This research helps Vanguard answer key topical questions: What is the value of financial advice? How should investors be thinking through decision-making in retirement? What is Vanguard’s outlook for the economy and the capital markets? Answering these questions by way of research helps Vanguard continue to educate our clients and crew—and helps further establish Vanguard as a leading investment management firm.
When I began my rotation in the Investment Strategy Group through Vanguard’s leadership development program, I felt fairly intimidated by how much I didn’t know. The group was full of subject-matter-experts who not only conducted research, but frequently acted as ambassadors, discussing and delivering our group’s research in crew trainings, client meetings, and at industry conferences. While I had a background in economics and was passionate about investing, I was unsure about being able to contribute as a new team member within such a tenured department.
What I realized was that being surrounded by such knowledgeable leaders and analysts ensured that my learning curve was essentially vertical. The culture was so collaborative and grounded in intellectual curiosity that I quickly began to build both investment and technical acumen. Throughout various projects, I was able to leverage and maximize my own unique skillset while partnering with other analysts to bring my analytical skills and systems knowledge up to par. I loved the fact that there truly were no bad questions, and everyone was eager to share their experience and knowledge, whether it was over a casual coffee or in the midst of a department-wide town hall.
The content creation process
Shortly after completing my rotation and joining the group permanently, I was aligned to the Advisor’s Alpha research team, which focuses on investor behavior and the value of financial advice. When I began working on my first whitepaper, I collaborated with members of my team and partnered with leaders and practitioners in Vanguard’s client-facing divisions. Our goals were to create differentiated content that would shape the industry conversation and to outline best practices that would give institutional clients the best chance of achieving their mission (i.e. charity, education, retirement).
Creating thought leadership, no matter the topic, often happens in phases. We started off by doing deep dive research, poring through academic studies, industry intelligence, and previously published whitepapers. I really enjoyed the “get smart” phase because it allowed me to get a feel for the broader conversation happening in the industry around institutional advice. Then, we began outlining our approach, performing analysis, and drafting the paper. The writing phase was challenging but rewarding as we iterated through a number of versions and honed in on our structure, language, and visualization. Though it was a long journey, the skills I gained by working through the research process were invaluable.
A foundational skill set
My favorite aspect of working as an investment analyst in this group is that it’s given me broad exposure to numerous investment disciplines across the globe. While I work in Vanguard’s Scottsdale, Arizona office, the Investment Strategy Group is spread across our headquarters in Pennsylvania as well as a number of international offices, allowing us to conduct thought leadership on a global scale. By avidly reading and organically learning from experts in the department, I’ve built a base of knowledge across all of our research specialties including portfolio construction, retirement, and the economy and markets.
In addition to that wide-ranging foundation, I’ve delved deeply into my own research specialty. I realized that a challenging first step to being a thought leader and influencing industry conversation is being well-versed in what’s already been said. By leaning on my team’s experience and conducting research alongside our business partners, I’ve educated myself on the existing dialogue around investor behavior and the value of advice. In the future, I aspire to continue contributing to this dialogue as a developing thought leader (and proudly explaining my job to my friends and family when they ask!)
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Acceleration into Financial Professional Program: My first two months
Starting a new job is tough. Starting a new job as a college graduate is even tougher. Moving from one coast to the other with nothing more than what you can fit into your car to start a new job right out of college is REALLY tough. I moved 2,700 miles from San Diego to Philadelphia to participate in Vanguard’s Acceleration into Financial Professional program and couldn’t be more proud of my decision.
My journey to Vanguard began as a community college transfer student at San Diego State University. I was passionate, excited, and inquisitive, but wasn’t sure how those characteristics would translate into a job. Rather than getting caught up in making every step a calculated one, I focused on doing what I knew I should. I attended the first career fair on campus and spoke to various firms. Vanguard’s booth was the one I was most excited to find. My conversation with the recruiters in attendance must have went well because the next morning, I was scheduled to interview for Vanguard’s College to Corporate internship in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Fast forward almost a year and I had just concluded a challenging, fun, insightful internship with Vanguard. During my ten week internship I fell in love with the financial services industry and Vanguard’s unique values so much so that I knew it was a company I wanted to begin a long career with. Fortunately, I was offered a position in the Acceleration into Financial Professional Program.
After two months as a program participant, I’d like to share what I appreciate about it and provide some additional insight into the program focusing on three themes: community, flexibility, and impact.
Moving here wasn’t easy and it’s taken me a few months to truly feel settled. I’ve had to adjust to a new environment and develop a new routine. I’ve even had to come to terms with the following critically important facts; in Philadelphia, there are people that choose to eat pizza without cheese (Tomato Pie), subs are actually called “hoagies,” and saying anything bad about the Eagles is very much frowned upon. Adjusting to a new place is tough but working for a company that promotes and encourages a strong sense of community has made the transition much easier.
For example, Vanguard hosted a day in the city for our group on the Friday of our first week. That day we toured Reading Terminal Market (where I ate way too many samples), we did an escape room challenge and finished with lunch at Mission Taqueria. It was a great time for us to get to know each other and have fun outside of the confines of our cubicles. I had a blast.
The program has structure. You will complete four six-month rotations within various departments in Finance. You will participate in soft-skill and technical-skill trainings. You will have responsibilities and deliverables during your rotations. But beyond these, you will be heavily encouraged to drive your own unique experience. If you want to attend a Vanguard event discussing innovation and emerging trends in FinTech, you can. If you want to join a book club to build your investment acumen, you can. The leadership team acknowledges the value in developmental opportunities outside of your day-to-day responsibilities. I’ve fallen in love with this aspect of the program, as it fulfills my intellectual curiosity —and also opens doors to explore future opportunities.
For my first rotation, I was placed on the Financial Planning & Analysis team that supports the Institutional Investor Group. Our team provides business clients and senior management with strategic decision support, operational and capital planning, financial reporting, and performance measurement. In support of these functions, I’ve been able to explore fundamental analysis, process automation, forecasting techniques, and fund cash flow analysis.
From day one, the skillsets, knowledge, and drive I came to the program with have been valued by my colleagues and managers. I’ve been given projects that enable me to both showcase my strengths and also stretch my conceptual understanding of the business segments we support. Recently, the results from one of my projects helped improve a section of the insight we provide to our Finance and Institutional Investor Group leadership!
Joining a team I knew little about has been difficult. I still have a lot to learn. But knowing that the work I bring to the table is valued has made this rotation a rewarding experience. I’m new to the program and still relatively new to Vanguard and the Philadelphia area. However, after two months I am even more excited than when I began. I come to work every day with the confidence that I’ll be challenged, the peace of mind that I’ll be supported, and the excitement that I’ll have the opportunity to make meaningful contributions.
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With the free time to observe other departments combined with seeing how my team leader has helped me on my journey, I’ve figured out that I want to pursue either a financial advisor or leadership role. I’ve enjoyed seeing the way our leaders develop crew members through coaching and mentoring, and watching how our advisors add value to our clients’ lives by helping them accomplish their goals. It is my hope to continue to build even deeper and more meaningful relationships with my colleagues and our clients, as well as to further develop my skills in my career. Whether it be in leadership or as an advisor, I will continue to be a steward of Vanguard’s mission to take a stand for all investors, to treat them fairly, and to give them the best chance for investment success, all while fostering this same passion with the crew and clients I work with.
With Vanguard’s flexibility and support, I have full faith that I’ll be able to succeed and in a timely manner. As my journey continues, I’m excited to know I have Vanguard’s support and would encourage others to be unafraid of using all of the wonderful resources available to you. I know that I will be able to attain the career I want at Vanguard.
Why I Got Rid Of My Five Year Plan
Vanguard crew member Lauren reflects on why she tossed out her five year plan and instead focused on building a career within a company and industry she grew to love.
Inclusion – It’s More Than a Policy Hear from crew about their thoughts on LGBTQ+ inclusion at Vanguard, and learn about the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Corporate Equality Index—and how we stacked up.
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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Celebrating “mi comunidad” during National Hispanic Heritage Month
Each year from September 15 to October 15, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month to celebrate the diverse backgrounds of American citizens of Latin American, Spanish, and South American descent. At Vanguard, we focus on attracting, retaining, developing, and engaging Hispanic/Latino crew members and celebrate the diverse cultures they represent through our crew resource group HOLA (Hispanic/Latino Organization for Leadership and Advancement). Operations Manager Evelin M. shares her experience bringing HOLA to fruition and how it has influenced her Vanguard journey:
When I started working at Vanguard in the Acceleration into Financial Professional (AFP) program eight years ago, I remember asking my manager how I could sign up to join the Hispanic crew resource group (CRG). I had interned at two other companies and expected that a company like Vanguard would already have one. I was surprised to find out that a Hispanic group did not yet formally exist. My manager connected me with another crew member who was leading an informal group in the Malvern office. A spin off group was also created for all of the people of Dominican descent who work at Vanguard. I immediately connected with other crew members who had similar backgrounds and they offered suggestions for how to acclimate to Vanguard. Before long, HOLA was born.
Once HOLA was officially launched, I was very eager to get involved with one of the committees. The group made me aware of the Spanish food restaurants in the neighborhood and non-profit organizations supporting the Hispanic community. When I meet with other HOLA members I make sure to recommend these places.
HOLA created a safe environment for me to learn and grow in my career. I was an analyst in the Fund Financial Services (FFS) department with aspirations to become a supervisor. My involvement in the committee ultimately helped me prepare to be a people leader. I applied to join the leadership development committee and got accepted. My experience within this committee helped me increase my conceptual thinking and relationship management skills. It also gave me opportunities to network outside of my department and site, which helped me build my business acumen. As I became a supervisor, it was very helpful to apply what I was learning from HOLA in my role. For example, I needed to apply my ability to think strategically (and globally) on an ambiguous project where my team worked closely with our Scottsdale office.
My involvement in HOLA has given me more confidence to challenge myself and aspire to do more. My HOLA network helped me prepare as I transitioned from the Finance division to the International division. My interests began to shift toward helping with attraction so I became an HOLA Ambassador after 2 years in the leadership development committee. It is really beneficial to have the opportunity to change my involvement within the CRG. After I graduated with my MBA and had more availability, I wanted to be more involved. Next, I joined the Attraction committee to serve as a relationship manager with organizations that Vanguard partners with, such as ALPFA and Prospanica. Having the opportunity to network with these organizations and meet college students and professionals who may be interested in working at Vanguard has been an exciting and rewarding experience.
Looking back at my involvement with HOLA, I am very happy with what I have gained. HOLA has provided a platform for me to give to others and receive. There were multiple HOLA leaders who conducted career coaching sessions with me, fostered my development and inspired me. I also pay it forward and help other HOLA members in their professional development. I feel much more comfortable bringing my authentic self to work and also speaking in Spanish. My HOLA experience is even more applicable now that I am in a department supporting the Latin America and Caribbean region. The support from the HOLA CRG really helped me as I transitioned from multiple roles and responsibilities in my Vanguard tenure. I highly recommend everyone get involved in at least one CRG to foster their professional development—and to find their own “comunidad.”
In this blog, we recap an event hosted by Vanguard’s crew resource group Women’s Initiative for Leadership Success (WILS) where they had a panel discussion with three female senior leaders in Investment Management to help breakdown investment acumen myths and misconceptions.
It was a Monday evening, unbearably warm and sticky, as Philadelphia tends to be in September. I was at field hockey practice and, coincidently, received a call just as I was checking my phone during a water break. It was the call I had been waiting for: I GOT IT. I got the Vanguard College to Corporate (C2C) IT internship.
The C2C IT Internship checked all of my boxes: mentoring, cutting-edge tech, AND close to home. But it was only September; the summer had just ended, and next summer seemed so far away. The Grace Hopper Conference for Women in Computing was approaching and I had been instructed by faculty at my school, “don’t accept ANY internship offers until after the conference.”
The day that the conference finally came, I woke up very early. My solo journey included a flight delay, gate change, lengthy taxi ride, and an even lengthier trek, in not so comfy shoes, from the lobby of my hotel across the skywalk and through the Orange County Convention Center. I decided my first stop would be the Vanguard booth. After some wandering up and down the long aisles of the massive room, I found it. I spotted Lynn C., a Vanguard rep from my interview day, who greeted me with a big smile and a warm hug. Believe me, I really needed that hug. She asked me my t-shirt size and showed me all the new “swag” they had gotten for the conference. I stood around chatting with crew in Vanguard’s Technology Leadership Program about my flight and where I was staying. They invited me to dinner the following night before I went on my own to explore.
Many of the other companies at the conference had displays that were massive and showy. I waited in a few lines, padfolio in hand filled with fresh print outs of my resume. I fielded questions about Java classes and my previous internship, and along the way collected some rather over-the-top giveaways. By late afternoon, my mind was made up. I had already attended numerous talks by Vanguard representatives at my school, in addition to two Explore IT Days at their headquarters. I had spoken with multiple recruiters on the phone, and spent the day on campus interviewing. I knew the company’s core purpose, and I knew about their strong emphasis on crew. But hearing about it and feeling it are two completely different things. At many of the other companies I felt like a number holding a list of my accomplishments and capabilities. But Vanguard cared about me, a person. After only a few hours at the conference, I accepted my offer with Vanguard.
I spent my summer internship in Vanguard’s Personal Advisor Services. When I met my manager, Judy, she told me I would be a part of Team Unicorn. She assured me that I would come to understand the name after getting to know its members and seeing their work ethic. Lucky for me, I was included in their project and was able to participate in daily ideation, planning, and working sessions. Right away I found myself writing code that will soon go into production, and participated in a biweekly book club and in the teams monthly “game day” during lunch. A mantra of Team Unicorn is “work hard, play hard,” as each team member places high value on maintaining positive interactions with each other. Now that I had my internship, with work that was engaging and a friendly, supportive team, I feel so strongly that I made the right decision at the Grace Hopper Conference last year.
If you enjoyed this post and want to learn more, visit us at this year’s Grace Hopper Conference! And if you’re ready for a more rewarding, engaging, meaningful career, search our opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
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.
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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.
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.
If you had asked me 5 years ago where I would be today, trading derivatives at one of the world’s biggest asset management firms would probably not have been my first response. In college I was studying international business and politics, and headstrong on becoming a diplomat at the United Nations. My summer going into my senior year of college, I worked an internship at the UN. This experience motivated me to follow a path where I could influence positive changes in the world. I also loved understanding how economies operated around the world. In finding Vanguard, not only was I excited about the possibility to work at one of the biggest asset managers in the world, but also a company that had a philanthropic vibe. I felt that the overlap between values at the United Nations and Vanguard was pleasantly similar.
Learning a “trade”
I applied to the Vanguard Accelerated Development Program (VADP), not knowing where in the organization I wanted to be, but excited about the opportunity to explore different areas of the company. The first step was tackling the Series 7 exam – which helped me gain solid investment knowledge and a better understanding of how our funds and ETFs operate. It was soon after that I realized I wanted to learn more about the investment arm of the organization. After spending a few days shadowing on the trading floor, I knew the fast paced, high impact environment was perfect for me.
My first rotation was on the ETF Capital Markets team, a very male dominated area where there had never been a female on the team before. They covered both fixed income and equity, and spoke to clients about trading – this required deep training and hard work to understand the complex technical knowledge. I spent my days shadowing others on the desk and learning about equity, fixed income, market structure, market participants, and ETFs. I kept a spiral notebook with long lists of questions of the current day’s happenings, and Tom (my first manager on the team) would spend time post market hours explaining the plumbing of the market and theoretical reasoning behind the day’s trades. Although this group required a thorough understanding of many different aspects of investment management, I found I was able to learn these technical skills by partnering with a mentor, and consistently asking questions, finding articles, and taking time to self-study. That included starting the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) exam, which although challenging and time consuming, has been instrumental in helping me with my investment education. As time went on I felt confident in my ETF knowledge and my day-to-day now consisted of taking on my own trades and speaking with clients directly, rather than just shadowing another expert.
Creating the right environment
One thing to note is that there is a lack of females in the investment space, and they have historically shied away from more technical areas. Being the first female to join the Capital Markets team, I worked with my current mentors in deciphering why that is and how we could encourage other females to enter the space. The main themes I came away with were mentorship and confidence. It’s up to females currently in these roles to encourage, mentor, and lead other females and males entering the space. The confidence piece is tough, however, it helped me learn that it’s rare that someone walks into a trading or portfolio management job knowing the right way to hedge a trade. Knowing that I started at the same level as many of my peers reaffirmed that I too was capable and smart.
After I became involved in the ETF industry, I also joined a nonprofit group in the industry called Women in ETFs (WE). In this group, I got to know other women in the industry and attended numerous panels and discussions. Personally I have gained so much from being involved in this organization – the network I developed has helped me to not only understand the ETF ecosystem, but has also provided me with a network to lean on. After going back and forth to the New York chapter many times, I decided to explore developing a Philadelphia chapter. I felt strongly that I could cultivate the same experience for professionals here that I was getting in New York. Many months, discussions, and persuasions later we were able to move forward with the chapter launch in August of 2017. Over the past year I have attended events with experts in the local ETF industry that discussed trading, regulation, and market making. The WE Philadelphia chapter has big plans for incorporating formal mentorship programs, webinars, and more educational events this year.
No longer a shadow
After spending two years on the ETF Desk, I was approached about taking a trading role on the derivatives desk in Fixed Income. I was honored by the opportunity to take a step deeper into the heart of our funds and the daily happenings of politics, the fed, and market movements. It’s exciting to work on a desk that has direct impact and trades large amount of notional values. Thinking through trades and risk, staying on top of the markets, and learning how thoughtful decisions can positively impact shareholders has kept me so excited to come into work every day and allowed me to continue to grow as an investment professional.
It has been Vanguard’s openness to teach and mentor that has given me the opportunity to work in such technically challenging roles. If I could say one thing to women and men exploring a career in investments, it’s not to allow what you don’t know to intimidate you. If you are willing to work towards a goal, you can achieve it. You just need the right mentors, the right mindset, and the right company.
If you’re seeking and environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out or career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.