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Why Vanguard’s senior architect manager shoots for the moon

Dennis Becton talks about setting big goals, leadership and employee engagement.

Vanguard is a Technically Talent client and reviewed this article before publication.

Whether he’s at work or working out, Dennis Becton, senior architect manager at Vanguard, always shoots for the moon.

Every day, Becton wakes up before 5 a.m. to squeeze in a gym training before heading into the office. He says his moonshot goal is to be able to do a double under (where the jump rope passes twice under the jumper’s feet before they touch the ground again), and he encourages his technical team to think big in the same way.

Originally from North Jersey, Becton has been a “crewmember” at Vanguard for 25 years. He started as a developer but says he became an “accidental leader” after noticing opportunities to improve the pace of change around software development.

“It’s a model I’ve always applied: if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem,” says Becton.

Today, he’s a champion for Vanguard’s development community. His team spans several buildings, including Vanguard’s Innovation Studio in Center City Philadelphia where members of either IT or Corporate Strategy Innovation collaborate to develop the company’s most innovative ideas (more moonshots, if you will).

In addition to following lean and agile processes, Becton says employee engagement, and a focus on constantly moving new features into production, is critical for success. Again drawing from his experience in the gym, he recently introduced the office to a personal-best bell. Every time an app moves into production, crewmembers gather together and ring the bell to celebrate success.

“We take engagement seriously here at Vanguard,” notes Becton. “I love [the bell] because every time I hear it ring I think: ‘That’s another step closer to making this new way of working enterprise-wide.’”

Vanguard is hiring

Dennis shares more with us about his journey at Vanguard:

Technically Talent: What’s your morning routine like?

Dennis Becton: I wake up at 4:45 a.m. every day, eat a slice of raisin bread with peanut butter, and then go to the gym before heading into work.

TT: What are your primary responsibilities as Senior Architect Manager?

DB: The people on my team want to give a world-class client experience to our customers so I try to move everything out of the way that might impede them.

TT: Why did you want to work at Vanguard?

DB: I was drawn to the company because of the people and I’ve stayed for the same reasons. We were much smaller back then so, in considering how much we’ve grown, it’s amazing how it’s still very much a small family… there’s an amazing amount of really great people here.

TT: Why is it important to have leadership roles that require technical skill?

DB: Vanguard developed my current role a few years ago because we wanted to introduce a new title that recognizes leaders who are also highly technical. In doing so, it creates a technical career path for our crew members. Most computer science grads don’t come out of college thinking, “Hey I want to be a manager.” They come out thinking, “I want to be a developer and I want to keep developing.” This gives them a way to stay technical throughout their career.

TT: What project are you most excited about right now?

DB: I am most excited about projects that are focused on bringing a world class experience to our investors through web, mobile and other products. Technology and the new methods of work truly make this an exhilarating experience. We’re doing true Agile… so, if you’re on a product team then you’re accountable for delivering outcomes based on key performance indicators, instead of me just telling you all the requirements and giving you a deadline. It’s like having a mini-startup within the company.

Companies: Vanguard
Series: Technically Talent Tell-All

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