My Trip to Vanguard

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Jen Chan is a sophomore at NYU Stern majoring in Finance and Computing & Data Science and minoring in psychology. 

The shuttle dropped us- NYU students- onto what appeared to be another campus. We saw rows of tall red brick buildings surrounded by trees with the typical green grass lawn. We were all surprised that Vanguard, a firm holding 4 trillion AUM, could look this welcoming and peaceful.

We were greeted by two friendly recruiters and entered into a light breakfast, joining students from other top tier universities- University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, University of Chicago. All the students were getting to know each other but chatter suddenly paused as the Global Chief Economists of Vanguard entered the room.

We were fortunate to have Joe Davis share his own story while providing an overview of the company’s structure and culture. It was incredible to learn about his path from an everyday analyst to becoming the Global Chief Economists of Vanguard.  Throughout the day, many Vanguard professionals have retold their own encounters with Mr. Davis and collectively described him as humble and caring- as he demonstrates his genuine interests in his employees. This speaks volume to me as it demonstrates that the company not only values dedication and hard work but also care and support.

The day continued with a tour around the Vanguard campus, with visits to the various facilities and departments (fixed income, mutual funds, risk management). Each building and room was decorated to have its own personality but was also tied back to Vanguard’s central theme of ships that represent Vanguard’s innovative abilities and clear leadership in the industry.

I was left in awe at the amenities and services. Vanguard has 4 gyms, which included personal trainers, gift shops, and an aesthetically pleasing cafeteria that offered any type of food you could want. Passing by each facility, seeing coworkers chatter away, I recognized that the open concept structure cultivated collaboration and teamwork within the firm.

During each department tour, the specific professionals guided us through the purpose of their division, the daily responsibilities, and answered any questions. My biggest take away was how the company’s structure leads to its successful culture. Vanguard’s unique company structure ensures that all Vanguard’s interests align with those of the clients. Vanguard does not have any outside owners.

This client-focused mindset enhances the loyal and caring culture that employees outwardly demonstrate on a day to day basis. Employees are encouraged to have integrity and meaning in their work. Each professional spoke with pride and excitement about their contributions to the firm. It was incredible to hear of the impact one employee can make. When trading millions of dollars in assets, a professional would have to be careful to not move the market unintentionally.

Vanguard is a firm that practices flexible mobility. The firm encourages its employees to go after their interests and fulfill their curiosity to learn new skills and participate in different divisions. Vanguard values its people and therefore wants to retain the talent that they so heavily invested in. Therefore, the firm will happily work with its employees to ensure that in addition to developing depth in an industry he or she will develop breadth.

I am incredibly grateful that I took the 2.5-hour train down to visit Vanguard in Pennsylvania. Who knows- maybe after NYU, I’ll end up on another campus.

Interested in learning more about Vanguard?  Attend Torch Talks: Shattering Your Own Glass Ceiling, sponsored by Vanguard, on March 30.  Through personal anecdotes and innovative ideas, successful female professionals from Vanguard, CNN, Vice, PwC, EY and more will impart their knowledge with NYU students during this dynamic series of short talks modeled after “Ted Talks.” This creative platform will allow you to hear from diverse leaders in their industry and provide an opportunity to network for an individualized approach. This program is part of the Wasserman Center’s Women’s Herstory Month series. Light lunch will be provided. To RSVP, click here.