Vanguard culture anchored in growth and giving back
At harvest time, employees at one of the world’s largest investment firms pick peppers and tomatoes and donate them to nearby food pantries like Philabundance. The community garden at Vanguard isn’t a core competency, so to speak, but it does capture the financial firm’s unique commitment to giving back.
Vanguard is one of the world’s largest investment companies, offering a large selection of low-cost mutual funds, ETFs, advice and related services. “I wanted to work at Vanguard because I liked that there was an emphasis on volunteering and helping people,” said Alexa Cain, an investment systems developer. “I never thought I wanted to end up at a financial company, but the fact that people are such an important part of Vanguard’s mission really made me want to be here and makes me want to stay.”
The Vanguard Gives Back program is a community service initiative where the company’s so-called “crew members” (the logo, after all, is an 18th-century tall ship) rally behind philanthropic causes. Staffers donate their “time, talent and treasure” to various organizations, such as the American Red Cross and local hunger-relief groups.
Beyond those in need, Vanguard also invests in its own people.
In-house specialty programs offer crew-members the opportunity to gain new skills through hands-on experience. For example, Vanguard’s Technology Leadership Program is a two-year program with three rotations and two capstones, specifically geared towards recent graduates who want to develop their technical expertise within the business world.
The offices at Vanguard also feature an impressive array of perks such as”galleys” (cafeterias), working nooks, walking paths, outdoor patio space and electric-car parking. There’s also an employee gym, called “Ship Shape,” located on campus.
What’s uniquely challenging about building Vanguard products?
Applications and systems directly related to investment management require Vanguard crew members to have both business and technical skills. They need to have soft skills in order to listen to clients’ needs as well as hard skills that will translate those needs into technical requirements that deliver results.
What is the pace like at Vanguard?
The technical team at Vanguard works in an agile work environment, so they work quickly and intelligently. Over the last couple of years, Vanguard has enabled a robust continuous delivery system where folks can get new feature updates into production in less than 15 minutes to begin testing in live product environments, where in years past it would take months to get something into production.
What features is the team working on at the moment?
A tool for our portfolio managers to analyze client and market data and make better trading decisions. In addition, the team is engaged in moving legacy applications to the cloud.
What qualities does Vanguard value in an employee?
Vanguard values passionate individuals who are open-minded and always looking to improve themselves, their community and the products offered to clients.
What can new employees expect?
In addition to a thorough one-day corporate orientation, new employees can expect to enter into a supportive, welcoming work environment where they will feel appreciated and valued.
How do Vanguard employees stay connected and engaged with each other?
From the annual employee 5K run and community service campaigns through “Vanguard Gives Back” to happy hours, board game nights featuring D&D-style games like Gloomhaven, beverage clubs and barbeques, there are ample opportunities for Vanguard crew members to connect with each other throughout the year.
Dennis BectonSenior Architect ManagerA crew member for 25 years, Dennis has been a long-term champion for the development community at Vanguard. In his current role, Dennis ensures technical leadership priorities are ship-shape and rallies his team to utilize true agile processes to improve and grow their systems. Read More »
“The people on my team want to give a world-class client experience to our customers so my job is to move everything out of the way that might impede them.”
Alexa CainInvestment Systems Developer IIAlexa focuses on investment systems, including developing a portfolio management application as well as an initiative to migrate legacy content to a new cloud-based platform. She’s headed to the UK office in September, where she’ll help build up the technical team and community there. Read More »
“I wanted to work at Vanguard because I liked that there was an emphasis on volunteering and helping people. I never thought I wanted to end up a financial company… the fact that people is such an important part of Vanguard’s mission statement really made me want to be here and makes me want to stay.”
“The culture at Vanguard is really supportive. When I was new, everyone went out of their way to help me acclimate as quickly as possible… they’d answer all my questions, point me to resources I didn’t even know I needed, and just go above and beyond for me.”
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