Best Places spotlight: Vanguard takes career development seriously

Training and skills development are backed by generous tuition assistance at the No. 33-ranked company on our 2012 Best Places to Work in IT list.

Vanguard strives to develop well-rounded IT staffers who have both technical and leadership skills. From the get-go, employees are offered technical and soft skills training, and they can take advantage of mentoring and job rotation programs. "There's a focus on communication," says Nathalie Sakimura, senior manager of the technology and investment platforms group. Effective communication with clients is key to realizing the full potential of technology, she adds.

IT employees at Vanguard Group
IT staffers strike a pose at a winter-themed Fashionable Friday. Credit: Vanguard.

Based in Valley Forge, Pa., the investment management firm handles big custom development projects for its retail and institutional clients in-house, enabling IT employees to work with leading-edge technologies. IT staffers can also volunteer to investigate new technologies as members of five-person research and innovation teams.

Benefits include an academic assistance program, through which employees can receive up to $9,000 annually toward graduate or undergraduate tuition. "It's one of the biggest perks for me," says Michael Lombardi, business systems analyst in systems integration. "Vanguard pushes their crew to expand their knowledge and grow as employees."

A quirky perk is Fashionable Fridays -- a tradition started by a project manager who noticed that several people on his team were dressed alike in khakis and blue shirts. He decided they should have themed outfits each Friday. Today, many IT offices in the U.S., Europe, Australia and Asia participate, taking turns picking the global fashion theme.

"It shocks me how people get into this," says John McGrory, a principal in corporate systems integration. "It really promotes a sense of spirit and camaraderie, which is pretty cool."

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