Advice from a New Associate at T. Rowe Price
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt everyday life, but new employees are still onboarding at T. Rowe Price. In-person meet and greets are Zoom calls, a first day lunch is a virtual hangout, and starting your first day involves a help desk call.
The onboarding vehicles have changed, but the purpose of the process has not. Onboarding aims to give new employees a strong start and tools for success. And, like everything here, it's done with a collaborative spirit. New hires shared their experiences and offered advice on navigating the virtual halls of the firm.
Focus on Building Relationships.
At T. Rowe Price, relationships are key. As a highly collaborative company, it's important to develop networks right from the start. Your manager will have a list of "meet and greets" on Day One. Be prepared to ask questions:
- Tell me about your role.
- How do you expect our roles to interact? (Or how have our roles traditionally interacted?)
- What does it take to be successful in this role?
- What is your preferred method of communication?
Be Proactive about Social Interactions.
Having strong connections at work is a great way to build happiness both physically and emotionally. But in a remote environment, there's no coffee pot or courtyard to mill around and chat. At T. Rowe Price however, your colleagues are likely socializing in different ways.
Ask your team or your manager about social events. Your team may have water cooler chats or virtual happy hours to maintain connections. Also, consider incorporating 1:1 chats with folks, inside and outside your team, to learn about the organization and to network.
Ask If an Onboarding Buddy is Available.
You may have the opportunity to partner with an onboarding buddy. They are typically veteran employees who can explain the rules of the road. An onboarding buddy can also help build your network, provide role clarity, and highlight the nuances of the organization.
Lean on Your Colleagues
Starting a new job can be stressful but can be amplified in a virtual environment. To acclimate to a new role and the firm, associates recommend:
- Get ready in the morning just like you would for the office.
- Use video during meetings to connect names to faces.
- Ask questions (even uncomfortable ones) to understand how things work.
- Take frequent breaks like you would in the office for coffee, snacks, and pets vying for attention.
T. Rowe Price is often described, by our staff, as a global company with a community feel. Whether in the office or on Zoom, associates connect and help each other. Having a collaborative nature is a key to success at the firm. Just as important, is having a trusted network to counsel, support and when needed, humble you to make sure you thrive at the firm.
Take the advice of new hires and find your place at T. Rowe Price.
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.
Faces of T. Rowe Price: Niki Green, Senior Retirement Sales Executive
After being in the business for 28 years, I can say one of the things that really sets T. Rowe Price apart is that, from the leadership down, everyone truly works for the benefit of the client. That's not common, especially in sales. - Niki Green
After almost four decades in the financial services industry and experience at four different companies, Niki Green made a move to T. Rowe Price in 2016. With such an extensive and varied background in investment banking, she immediately recognized the uniqueness of T. Rowe Price's work culture, noting how long most associates had been with the firm.
The fact that T. Rowe Price's sales team positions are salaried was also attractive. "Salespeople are often compensated by commission, and I think that can drive the wrong kind of behavior," Niki says. At this stage in her career, she wanted to join an organization that would give her some autonomy and the ability to maintain relationships. "Many sales organizations are very numbers oriented and focused only on quarter-by-quarter short-term results," she explains. "They're not looking at the long-term picture."
While working for the past three years as Vice President, Senior Retirement Sales Executive at T. Rowe Price, she has witnessed first-hand the company-wide focus on doing what's best for the client in the long term. That philosophy drives the work culture. "Here, you're given this freedom and autonomy to create an experience for your clients that's also aligned with corporate goals," Niki explains. "Ultimately it's about growing assets and getting sales, but at this firm, it's achieved through a completely different approach. It's refreshing, especially for someone in my stage of a career."
As someone who has decades of experience in the business, Niki represents a variety of minority groups, particularly in investment banking. "Not only am I over 50, but I'm female, Asian, and a lesbian," she says. "I don't know that you could find much more diversity than me."
Whereas other companies might want to hire her so that they can check off a diversity box in their company profile, Niki believes T. Rowe Price values her unique perspective. "They put me in the position where I can succeed in an area that best suits who I am as an individual," says Niki. "And they help me draw on all my strengths as a way of building relationships."
At T. Rowe Price, Niki's diversity is seen as a rich resource, especially as the business environment is shifting with more women working as CFOs, CEOs, heads of human resources, and as other decision-makers at organizations. "Frankly, sometimes it's easier for those female advisors to work with a female sales rep on a closer level," says Niki. "After all women live longer and tend to make less money during their working years, and so a company must work toward helping women find suitable products to best meet their retirement goals."
Niki was one of a few women in her division when she started with the firm in 2016. In the years since she has helped recruit two more to the team. "Quite frankly, no one is killing it right now in regards to female representation," she says. Where T. Rowe Price particularly excels, according to Niki, is in matching associates with the types of clients who reside in that local area.
She believes T. Rowe Price has a unique perspective on diversity because its headquarters are in the vibrant city of Baltimore instead of someplace like New York or Boston. "It's an open culture, and everyone is encouraged to collaborate in a great way – much more than any company I've ever worked for," Niki explains.
Looking back, Niki has been able to maintain relationships with her advisors and clients through each of her company moves because of the reputation she has built in her local market. But she encourages those who are just starting their career journey to be patient. "You're building a practice, representing a brand, and doing the job that you can do to communicate the company that you represent," Niki says. They should also remember that people, both clients, and colleagues, have long memories. "Don't try to slight somebody to get that immediate sale because that could potentially alienate different relationships, and you're in it for the long run," says Niki. "When I realized that T. Rowe Price is so client-centered and everyone is in alignment working towards that common goal, I knew it was for me. You can't match the culture here."
Faces of T. Rowe Price: Samantha Pilon, Senior Manager, Relationship Management for Individual Investors
We're very open here, very clear about our mission and goals, both for our clients and our associates. And for me, as a leader, it's all about those relationships. Working closely with my team and helping our clients save for retirement and for their family – I just love what I do. I love coming to work every day.
- Samantha Pilon
Samantha Pilon has worn many hats at T. Rowe Price, steadily climbing the ranks in her various roles over the past 12 years. Right after graduating from college, she was working at the firm as a phone representative. One day, a supervisor tapped her with a new opportunity. "She told me she thought I would be a great leader for the team," she recalls. "She saw something in me that would allow me to grow professionally."
The supervisor was right— Samantha was perfect for the role."I love leading a team," she explains. In her career at T. Rowe Price, Samantha has led supervisor teams and back-office groups. Now, she's leading relationship management teams. "I thrive off the people, and I love seeing people grow," she says.
Although men do outnumber women in her new position, Samantha doesn't find it at all intimidating. "We are all just talking and working with clients who are just like us, who want help with their retirement plans," she explains. "We put the client at the center of everything that we're doing. It's always coming back to the client."
Samantha is also involved with WAVE @ T. Rowe Price, a women's business resource group at the firm. "We recently had a great talk and forum discussion about women feeling they need to get tapped, or that they have to be 100 percent ready for a business role before they go for it," she says. "Meanwhile, men are more likely to take the risk to apply for a role even if they aren't perfectly qualified."
That discussion struck a personal chord with Samantha, recalling how she felt upon entering the workforce 12 years ago. She believed that she, too, had to be tapped before seeking more professional responsibility. "But now I feel comfortable and confident based on what I've been able to achieve here," she says. "I'm raising my hand to tap myself now."
Her confidence is well-earned. Over the years, she has excelled at positions in a variety of departments like operations, brokerage, business improvement, client development sales, and Salesforce. Some people are surprised to hear she has worked at the same company since graduating from college, but Samantha has an understandable explanation. "I tell them, "You have no idea how much I've moved around within [the firm]. I've been a part of so many different groups and tried so many new things." Samantha has found abundant opportunity inside the firm instead of looking elsewhere for professional satisfaction.
In one of her roles, she was part of an agile development project focused on improving how quickly teams work and respond. "It's a business value-driven approach to development so instead of building something and taking two years, you're building a tiny bit of it as you go," she explains. Now that she's been working in her new role for about a month, she can introduce some of those best practices to her current team.
As she settles into her new position, Samantha doesn't feel the pressure to be an expert on everything or have all the answers. Thanks to the firm's collaborative environment, she can call on peers for help and draw on some of those past relationships as a resource.
"I have lifelong friends at T. Rowe Price," Samantha says, "It makes coming to work better. After all, you spend so much time in your life at work that you have to love what you do. Clearly, I'm happy coming to work – I've been here for 12 years after all. I think that says something."