The Vanguard Group Creates a Career Café

Employees now have a central location to get career guidance, and Vanguard develops a pipeline for future opportunities.

By Margery Weinstein

The Vanguard Group discovered from a survey of 1,900 employees that most employees relied on the current job openings, posted weekly, to plan their next position in the company. This left employees with very little time to interact with leaders of the desired department or develop the competencies required for the new role. To provide employees with assistance, the company piloted the Career Café in Arizona based on feedback from that site’s employees about career counseling. When asked, “What more can Vanguard offer to support your career development?” employees responded that they wanted:

  • One-on-one meetings with Vanguard leaders and open discussions on career moves.
  • An overview of positions available in Arizona, including key skills for the roles. Often they don’t have enough information on outside departments and can’t strengthen specific skills that would be advantageous in those roles.
  • Career path discussions with managers.
  • Brown bag lunches to talk about the different areas, and available positions within areas.

Employees also were asked to rate the effectiveness of various resources as they related to career development, with the following results:

  •  The Career Development Team was formed with the intent of raising awareness of the many resources already available to assist with career planning and establishing a central venue where employees could receive assistance on career development. As a result of the Career Development team’s efforts, construction began on the Career Café in April 2011 with a two-day grand opening in June 2011. The Café features an interactive SMART board and “coffeehouse-style” seating. It is located next to the Arizona site’s cafeteria in a high-traffic area of the campus.
  • Seasoned Vanguard leaders serving as career coaches staff the Café. The coaches are selected to mentor employees based on the breadth of their Vanguard experience and feedback and engagement scores from their direct reports. Coaches conduct overview sessions with small groups of employees to discuss opportunities available at Vanguard in Arizona and how to develop a plan to achieve their career goals.
  • During the open house, 280 employees visited the Café. On average, 15 employees visit per day during scheduled events, and more than 1,000 employees have visited the Café since its opening. The Career Café benefits employees and Vanguard: Employees now have a central location to get career guidance, and Vanguard develops a pipeline for future opportunities.

One employee noted: “It’s great to have an example of where ambition and hard work can take you at Vanguard. I certainly got more than one takeaway from today’s meeting and will be implementing what I learned in my coming career decisions.”

HAVE INPUT OR TIPS on this topic? If so, send them our way in an e-mail to with the subject line “Vanguard,” and we’ll try to include your advice in an upcoming edition of the Training Top 125 Best Practices/Executive Exchange e-newsletter.

Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.