Job Title: Vice President, College Savings
Type of Company: Financial services. My role is currently with the firm's 529 college savings program as the program manager.
Education: BS/BA, Finance, University of Dayton
Previous Experience: For twenty-three years I've worked in various capacities at a nationally-known investment firm that manages mutual funds and savings plans.
Job Tasks: I'm responsible for all aspects of the management of a pair of state-sponsored college savings programs. This involves everything from managing relationships with our clients (the California and New Hampshire state treasurers and their staffs) to product strategy to marketing.
My typical day consists of meetings with business partners, clients, and vendors to hash out the details of managing the funds I oversee. I also meet with portfolio managers to discuss the structure and design of the investments we offer and talk with systems people about the best ways to improve and fix our trading software.
One of my primary responsibilities is reporting on the progress of each plan to its board of trustees. This involves the gathering of sales and market data (with other plan-related info); but I've also got to put the presentations together and deliver them at board meetings.
A secondary responsibility is working with our marketing people to find better ways to promote and sell the plans. We fine-tune strategies but we also delve deeply into the technical details of these campaigns, even writing and reviewing the specific content for them.
Finally, as the program manager, I'm responsible for setting sales goals. To do this I work with the sales staff, as well as with the state treasurers, to set goals we can all agree on.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: On a daily basis I get the opportunity to work with some extremely talented people, both inside and outside my company. This is challenging and has helped me expand my horizons. I'm also lucky to be responsible for a product that was meant to help families meet a critical goal: saving for college.
The worst part of the job is the number of meetings I have to attend every week. In a bad week, I'll have thirty, even forty, in person or on the phone. This leaves little time to devote to my other responsibilities.
1.) Hone your writing skills. Many people think they can write, but they use the word "involve" too much. Fortunately, in the business world, most people are illiterate and think "involve" sounds really smart. 2.) Develop good presentation skills. Your delivery alone won't suffice; you need to learn how to craft an effective presentation as well. Being good, beyond that, at everything from one-on-one phone calls to speeches in front of a large audience can be a tremendous leg-up. 3.) Learn to be a good communicator. How does this differ from what I've talked about above? A good communicator is also a good listener.
Additional Thoughts: I never thought I would work for a company as large as mine - over 40,000 employees worldwide. There are many challenges to working for such a large organization, but there are many opportunities as well. In my twenty-three year career I've changed positions no fewer than ten times, each time to something more interesting, challenging and rewarding. Firms the size of mine will continue to offer scope for advancement, though they can also leave you feeling like a small fish in a very big pond.
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