Faces of T. Rowe Price: Vinnett Mason, Client Engagement Manager, US Intermediaries
"For me, being able to come to work, be my authentic self and know that my thoughts and values are sought after, considered and used is extremely important. That's one of the key reasons why I choose to stay at T. Rowe Price, because I am able to voice my opinion and know that it will be ultimately heard and actually make a difference." - Vinnett Mason
In her 14 years with T. Rowe Price, Vinnett Mason, now a Client Engagement Manager in US Intermediaries, has served in seven roles. In that time, she has also had three children. "Throughout all of those different roles with different departments, I had significant support from my manager and worked with tremendous teams," she says. "It allowed me to be able to take time away and focus on my family and personal commitments."
Vinnett says that work-life balance is only possible because she sincerely feels that others at the firm care about people both professionally and personally. "With increasing support from teams and key leaders, I did not have to sacrifice my personal commitments for the sake of my professional progression," she says.
Her climb up the ranks led her to her current role. In her daily duties, Vinnett partners with national account managers on client engagement and leads strategic efforts to improve clients' experience. She also provides consultation to investment decisionmakers as well as product marketing to advance both firm and client initiatives.
That's not to say that being a woman, mother, and also a minority working in the financial services industry has not been without challenges along the way. Yet with the firm's open-door atmosphere, support has never been too far away. "I haven't had a single instance when I've had an issue, question, or just a desire for insight from a senior leader where it wasn't received with open arms," Vinnett recalls. "There's always a willingness to discuss and figure out what are the best options for my personal situation."
Maintaining a supportive work culture is clearly a top priority for Vinnett. She has participated in T. Rowe Price's business resource groups such as MOSAIC, which advances cultural diversity, and PRIDE, which advocates for LGBTQ team members. There's also WAVE, T. Rowe Price's business resource group created to attract, develop, advance, and retain women in the organization.
"By participating with WAVE, I was able to gain insight from other professional women within the organization and know that I was not necessarily going through this challenge alone," she says. Vinnett also cites the Women in Sales initiative as another excellent example of how the firm is trying to support women in the workplace.
She has also facilitated USI's new hire Diversity & Inclusion onboarding training. "A key component of my role is creating a comfortable environment," Vinnett explains. "Every associate can raise questions to me or any other leader in our organization, regardless of their role, their experiences, or even how long they've been at the firm," she explains. "Those insights can be critical to making progress."
For Vinnett, a diverse workplace that is genuinely inclusive of different types of people and backgrounds is central to retaining top talent as well as connecting with clients. "It's important to set a tone that values diversity within my department," she says. It's not uncommon for her clients to inquire about the firm's diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Beyond what diversity can bring to a team or client experience, Vinnett says it's been key to her longevity with the firm. "I've stayed at T. Rowe Price, because I know I can voice my opinion, and it will be heard," she says. "Being able to come to work and be my authentic self makes a difference."
Part of bringing your authentic self at work, according to Vinnett, is being very open and honest about what's important to you. "Every time I went out on maternity leave, I always got the question—'Are you coming back?'" she remembers. In response, she had to disavow that common assumption by being very candid about her own career goals and plans.
"When you choose to navigate your professional goals in concert with what you have going on personally, it may take a little more effort," Vinnett says. "But, you can absolutely do it." She advises others in similar situations to build a support system around themselves. "There are many other individuals that have gone through these life events or are going through it currently, and can share best practices and resources," she says. "The firm offers many resources as well that you can leverage to be able to balance the load."
To those just starting their career in financial services or perhaps considering building a family alongside it, the key, says Vinnett, is not to strive for perfection but rather, continuous improvement.
Below is an article originally written by PowerToFly Partner T. Rowe Price, and published on January 17, 2019. Go to T. Rowe Price's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
Diversity is a core value at T. Rowe Price. For the past 12 years, it's also been the inspiration for MBA Day. The weekend-long program familiarizes students of diverse backgrounds with the firm and gives them a taste of what it's like to live and work in Baltimore.
"We launched the event because, historically, there's been a gap in financial services when it comes to people of color and women," explains Naomi Garvin, the firm's Diversity Recruitment Program Manager. "When we think about how we do business and who we do business with, we want to make sure our associates reflect the communities we serve – not just our clients, but the communities we invest in."
T. Rowe Price works with the firm's extensive network of analysts, campus investment clubs, and the Robert Toigo Foundation to find diverse students interested in a career in assets management. They spend three days in Baltimore, learning about T. Rowe Price, delving into investment topics, and exploring the vibrant city. This year, they attended a Baltimore Ravens' NFL football game and also tasted some local culinary highlights on a food tour of Mt. Vernon, one of Baltimore's most historic neighborhoods.
Tega Edah, a first-year MBA student at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, was one of 26 participants in this year's MBA Day program. We spoke with her about her experience.
You've done an internship with T. Rowe Price as well as other programs. How did MBA Day compare to these?
My internship was about personal growth. Everyone here was willing to go the extra mile to make sure I understood things as I was climbing a very steep learning curve. MBA Day helped me see what my life would look like if I worked here. It's very, very evident to me that if you consider yourself to be a results-oriented and caring person and want to work in a collegial and collaborative environment, then T. Rowe Price should be your home.
How do you think events like these can help attract diverse candidates?
Many candidates of diverse backgrounds do not have exposure or access to what even investment management looks like. The first time I ever heard about a 401k was when I was hired in my first job. Access and exposure are key but beyond that, programs like MBA Day show how you can progress and take full advantage of opportunities in this career.
What are your main takeaway from MBA Day?
One fireside chat on corporate social responsibility particularly resonated with me. Fagan Harris, President and CEO of Baltimore Corps, shared why you should really understand what motivates you deeply. Know why you come to work every morning, what you're fighting for, and what change you want to see in the world. Then use that knowledge to help power whatever decisions you're making and the amount of effort that you put into your commitments. Make it your North Star.
I was also struck by T. Rowe Price CEO Bill Stromberg's advice to "Be a student of people." You must learn how to leverage other people's perspectives to really succeed.
What was your favorite part of the weekend?
I really liked getting to know the T. Rowe crew on a more informal basis. Over casual conversation, they shared their own experiences with career fails and finding a way to get back up and bounce back. They were candid about the experience and showed me how it ultimately made them a better investor.
Would you recommend MBA Day to your peers?
Yes, anyone interested in an investment management career should come here to see what "good" looks like. People struggle with knowing what to expect after graduation. MBA Day will give you a flavor of what it's like to work here.
Early on in your career, you're going to be afraid of failing. But at T. Rowe Price, I learned to feel comfortable being uncomfortable. When I felt like I was faltering, they supported me and offered new challenges. The people here have so much faith in me. I encourage others to experience that for themselves.
What surprises you about the city of Baltimore?
Without a doubt, the Baltimore hospitality. When I first came here for my summer internship, I was struck by how everyone was so nice – even people you simply walk by on the street. There's also a deep call to action: Most Baltimore residents give back to the community in some way. It's embedded and integrated into the culture and vibe of the city. It's very cool.
Below is an article originally written by PowerToFly Partner T. Rowe Price, and published on December 14, 2018. Go to T. Rowe Price's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
When it comes to women in the workplace, the financial services industry has a problem: A study by Morningstar found that fewer than 10 percent of managers of U.S.- based mutual funds and exchange-traded funds are female. That's why T. Rowe Price is proactively working to increase the number of women in the pipeline by reaching out to women entering MBA programs.
One way T. Rowe Price is doing this is by offering an annual Stock Pitch Workshop for Women. The program's goal is to help women build the skills and confidence they need to interview for asset management positions.
View More: http://tpoz.pass.us/trp-stockpitch
Why Offer a Stock Pitch Workshop for Women
The stock pitch is a critical component of interviewing for asset management positions—and one of the biggest deterrents to women when it comes to pursuing this career path.
"We have heard over the years that a reason women have not pursued investment management is the stock pitch. Many women feel intimidated and that they have not had enough experience with it early on," says Naomi Garvin, diversity recruitment program manager at T. Rowe Price.
This lack of confidence creates a barrier to inclusion.
"Research shows that men only need to feel 30 to 40 percent confident that they can do something to go after an opportunity, while women want to be 80 to 90 percent sure that they will be successful. This then influences behaviors around taking calculated risks," Garvin continues. "We as a firm are trying to close that gap, to show them the skill set needed to build a stock pitch. But part of the weekend is also about building a sense of self-confidence needed to deliver a pitch with conviction."
The Stock Pitch Workshop offered by T. Rowe Price helps women build the requisite skills and confidence through a weekend of panel discussions with T. Rowe Price executives and a day-long, intensive training on how to create a successful stock pitch. The process takes attendees through each step— from primary research and modeling to tips on delivery and presentation.
With the right skill set and enough confidence, women can feel empowered to pursue a career path that will ultimately require them to deliver a stock pitch as part of a job interview.
Fostering Gender Equity in Asset Management
The Stock Pitch Workshop for Women specifically targets recent undergraduates entering MBA programs because research indicates career trajectory decisions are made early. A study by the CFA Institute of its membership* showed that more than 80 percent of respondents made the decision to pursue a finance career while under the age of 26. More than one-third made the decision before the age of 22.
Tom Watson, Director of U.S. Equity Research at T. Rowe Price, who helped to plan the workshop and was also a presenter, agrees. "Our primary goal is to increase awareness and interest in an investment management career among high-potential, incoming women MBAs, as well as arm them for success should they decide to pursue this path," he explains. "Hopefully, some of the attendees will pursue investment management, ideally at T. Rowe Price."
Women entering MBA programs are highly sought after by competing financial services industries, particularly banking and consulting. Those fields tend to have better female representation than asset management and can, therefore, look more appealing to female candidates. So if women's interest in asset management is to be fostered, this is the critical time to do it.
"The Stock Pitch Workshop for Women not only gives us an opportunity to see these women earlier and show what T. Rowe Price is all about, but also allows us to lift the veil about what active asset management is and what we do day-to-day, not just as a company, but as an industry," says Garvin.
Adding Value Through Diversity
"It is essential that women have a seat at the table because women are making more and more decisions in their households," says Garvin. That means improving the number of women in asset management isn't just the right thing to do— it's also sound business practice.
"We need women on our teams helping us make the best decisions about the industries and companies we want to keep our eye on," she adds. "Because in many cases they are the consumers driving the decisions and the platforms that make these companies popular."
*See p. 6 of report
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