This article is sponsored by Vanguard and was reviewed before publication.
Before stepping foot into the 2019 Grace Hopper Celebration, the largest gathering of women technologists in the world, Smita Ghosh was preemptively overwhelmed.
“I knew there were going to be around 25,000 attendees, and I thought, this experience might be ‘a lot,’” said Ghosh, an environments configuration analyst II at Vanguard’s main campus in Malvern.
Together with a handful of her colleagues, Ghosh traveled to the conference, held in Orlando, to present the robot that she and her team built to get young girls excited about coding. Though nervous to present on such a large stage, she was thrilled to share the work that had allowed her to give back to her community, as well as showcase Vanguard’s technical capabilities.
After a successful presentation, the team spent the rest of the event — named for computer programming pioneer Grace Hopper — attending keynotes, workshops and panels led by prominent women in technology from all over the world.
When it was all over, Ghosh was more overwhelmed than ever, but for an entirely different reason.
“It was one of the most inspiring experiences I’ve ever had,” she said. “I’m often the only woman, or queer woman, or woman of color in the room. At the event, there were so many amazing, sharp women in tech who know their work to the core; so much intellect and imagination. I wish I could bottle that energy and take a dose every day.”
Vanguard has been sending its “crew members” — a nickname for employees that tips its hat to the ship after which the firm gets its name — to present, recruit and find inspiration at the Grace Hopper conference since 2012. It’s one of the many ways the company — specifically, one of the world’s largest investment companies — works to embed diversity and inclusion into its culture. And not just to be able to check the box on a workplace buzzword, but to actively recruit for and support diversity of talent on its tech teams.
Another way Vanguard invests in inclusivity is through its Crew Resource Groups which offer actionable support and awareness for the experiences of women, Black, Asian, Hispanic/Latinx and LGBTQ professionals in house, all year round.
“When I got to Vanguard and saw all of the resource groups, I was happy,” said Ghosh. “I felt like they were interested in me as a person. That they cared about who I was.”
Coming from a very different perspective, Kyle Ceffaratti, a white, male AI engineer at Vanguard, also found tremendous value in joining the Crew Resource Groups and attending the 2019’s Grace Hopper event.
For Ceffaratti, the conference was both eye-opening and humbling.
“It’s a tech conference centered around eliminating the stereotypical makeup of tech companies — that being, all white men,” said Ceffaratti. “It celebrates the value that diversity brings across race and gender.”
Worried he’d be a bother at an event designed to highlight women, Ceffaratti was pleasantly surprised that his participation was celebrated.
“To me, it felt like a great example of the respect and inclusion that women want and deserve in the tech industry,” he said. “It was great for me to be able to go, to gain perspective from the other side.”
Ceffaratti started his career at Vanguard through its Technology Leadership Program for recent grads looking to sharpen their technical skills. The program runs for two years, featuring three eight-month rotations allowing participants to discover different career tracks within technology.
During his program, Ceffaratti found himself one of the few men in a female-majority cohort.
“Based on my experiences, I believe we genuinely try and promote equality day in and day out at Vanguard,” he said. “It’s easy to just say that, but I got to witness it inside and outside of our walls.
“Being at the conference,” Ceffaratti continued, “the talent pool was top notch. Regardless of the fact that it was all women, they were just incredible candidates. Intelligence is not gendered. Intelligence is equally spread.”-30-
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