If you’re building or optimizing an agile team, focus on three things: Balancing teams, handling failures, and opening up communications.
Four ways Vanguard IT recruits and retains top college talent
It’s not uncommon for our recruiters to go to college career fairs and set up a booth right next to Google or Amazon. At Vanguard, we’re as much a technology company as we are a financial services company, so recruiting top-tier technical talent is crucial to our business. Therefore, we have to ensure we give talented college students plenty of reasons to seek a job with us when they graduate.
Here’s how we aim to recruit – and retain – for the long term:
1. We communicate how our mission and culture make us stand out. Today’s college graduates are very mission-oriented; they want to feel like they are enabling their company’s mission. Vanguard is one of the world’s largest investment management companies, but unlike most investment firms, we aren’t publicly traded. We’re owned by our clients, and helping our investors achieve their goals is the only reason we exist.
When recent grads learn about our mission, they like that we have no conflicting loyalties, and that we firmly believe in doing what is right in every situation, every day. Our inclusive culture — which promotes teamwork, community involvement and career growth — also helps us attract mission-oriented graduates.
2. We’ve broadened the range of college majors we recruit into IT. We no longer just recruit traditional computer science and engineering majors. Many college students have the core competencies we’re looking for, and we can train for the technology piece. By not limiting ourselves to recruits from certain majors we have the opportunity to shape new employees into both technical and business leaders.
Don’t get me wrong: We still do plenty to attract top technical candidates. We’ve built relationships with a number of respected computer science and technical programs at various universities. We send alumni employees back to recruiting events on campus and to participate in panel discussions and classroom lectures. We also invite students from targeted colleges to attend “Explore Days” on Vanguard’s campus where they can speak with the Vanguard IT ‘crew’ and see what it’s really like to work here. But we don’t let a student’s major dictate whether they’re qualified to work here.
3. We look for leaders. We focus on building three dimensions in our IT professionals: Technical knowledge, business acumen, and ability to lead. Of those, leadership skills are probably the most difficult to find because you want someone who has the ability to persuade, influence, motivate, drive the agenda and communicate effectively. If someone has all three of those dimensions, they can truly create value.
To find crew with the softer of those skills, we tend to ask candidates more behavioral questions, such as: “Tell me about a time you had an idea that you had to sell to your peers” as opposed to asking them which languages they can code in.
3. We train recruits to be better leaders. After we hire talented college grads, we help hone their technical and leadership skills through our Technology Leadership Program (TLP). Select new hires, as well as existing employees with demonstrated leadership skills, go through the 24-month training and rotational development program to receive ongoing technical and professional training.
Participants are placed in three rotating positions, where they work with seasoned professionals across our IT division. The program gives recent grads on-the-job experience and helps define their goals for the future at Vanguard, which helps ensure we’re setting them up for success from day one.
The days of IT being merely a service provider are long gone. Today IT is an enabler for the future of the business. So it’s important to spend time recruiting and cultivating future IT leaders who can evolve with the technology and the business and help us stay competitive. What are some of the ways you’re fostering young talent in your IT department?
John Marcante is Vanguard’s chief information officer and managing director of Vanguard’s Information Technology Division. He oversees all aspects of Vanguard’s worldwide technology agenda to serve clients and manage investments and was named to his current position in 2012.