Vanguard has had innovation in its DNA for some time. It existed in pockets across the company. The company’s current chief information officer John Marcante, along with the company’s former CEO, Bill McNabb, and senior leaders made a trip to Silicon Valley several years ago. It was a "lightbulb moment" of sorts, as the company realized the amount of innovation and venture capital being put toward financial services and fintech, more specifically.
Understanding the importance of having a centralized function dedicated to innovation, Vanguard established an Innovation Studio in Center City, Philadelphia. Lisha Davis, now a nine year veteran of the company, and formerly a member of the Corporate Strategy team at Vanguard, leads the Innovation Studio, which opened in 2017.
According to Davis, there were three motivations for building the innovation studio, which were finding new ways to work, looking to disrupt the market, and attracting more talent. Davis has built up a team of 40 people broken into Strategy and Enablement, Proof of Concept, and Engineering. The teams have many people with non-traditional backgrounds, such as artistic backgrounds combined with deeply technical backgrounds. I recently caught up with Marcante and Davis at the Innovation Studio to find out more.