Petersen: When I was younger, my father was an accountant and brought home a laptop, and I was enamored with one of the first pieces of technology to enter our home. Before that, he was strict with allowing devices in our home and we had minimal TV access. As he grew to appreciate technology and its benefits to his work, it opened the window into our household. That set me on a course to study technology, but I found I was the only female in my technology and advanced math classes. I worked at Ford Motors coming out of college, followed by Jetstar, and noticed a common denominator with the values of the companies that served as my North Star: Low cost and good company culture. In my interview with Vanguard, I remember a hiring manager speaking of Vanguard’s culture saying, “We don’t date, we marry.” Once you’ve worked at a few different organizations, you realize it’s more about the company’s values, culture, and people that matter. Our mission is clear in the decisions we make every day at Vanguard, and our focus on clients and crew is unwavering.
Wilkinson: My earliest memories of working with computers is also with my father—we played computer and video games together. But I never thought I’d be into coding. I was a marine biology major and my advisor encouraged me to take a computer science class. I ended up loving it, especially the art and logic of coding. The experience made me pivot a bit and take more software engineering classes my senior year of college while finishing my marine biology major. Post-college, while working, I obtained my master’s degree in information management and systems. I’ve also always been interested in finance and thought the concept of compound interest was fascinating. I spent 15 years at Charles Schwab and then transitioned to Vanguard.
Manry: I knew at a very young age that I wanted to be an engineer. I declared at 9, while surrounded by NASA annual reports, that I would grow up to be an electrical engineer. I was fortunate to have a mother who, despite not knowing what exactly an electrical engineer did, installed the belief in me that if I was passionate enough about something, I could figure it out and be successful at it. She was the biggest driving force for me and a “gender bias buster,” wherein she didn’t believe in “men’s jobs” or “women’s jobs,” but rather just doing something you were passionate about and excelling at it. In college I majored in mechanical engineering, and I worked at General Motors while in college and for several months afterward. I kind of fell in love with this idea of technology that facilitates the building of cars, and I got a bit of a bug around the IT side of the business doing manufacturing engineering. Following General Motors I switched to General Electric, then shifted to the finance industry, working at Genworth Financial, Capital One, Bank of America, then at Vanguard.
There are many interesting puzzles that come with working in financial services, like how you apply innovative technology in a highly regulated environment that is constantly changing. There are rules and constraints to work within—and being a critical thinker that loves solving problems is key to being successful.