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Member Perspective: Bill McNabb

Posted Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

Member News, Featured Member, Select Greater Philadelphia Council

Guest Commentator: Bill McNabb, Chairman and CEO, Vanguard, @Vanguard_Group

What have you learned about the region during your time leading a major business in Greater Philadelphia?

How did someone raised in upstate New York and Boston, and schooled in New Hampshire, find himself spending the past three decades working and raising a family in the Philadelphia area? Initially, it was serendipity. After college, I landed a teaching job at The Haverford School. I went on to earn a business degree from Wharton. Afterward, I spent three years on Wall Street, and I learned a lot about finance and hard work. But I felt like something was missing.

So, in 1986, I was back in Philadelphia, interviewing at Vanguard, an upstart firm whose business model and values intrigued me. I found myself discussing with a good friend and former coach whether I should leave New York City for the leafy Main Line suburbs over Dalessandros cheesesteaks and a beer in his Roxborough backyard. I took the job at Vanguard, and I’ve never looked back. In December, I’ll step down as CEO. It’s been immensely gratifying to be part of a company that has grown from 1,000 crew members and $20 billion in assets when I arrived to more than 17,000 crew members who prudently tend $4.7 trillion in client assets.

This region is an integral part of the firm’s success. Great locations attract great people. The region has many virtues that make it a fantastic place to live and work:

  • People: More than 100 colleges and universities are within an hour’s drive of Philadelphia. If you’re an employer looking for smart, talented, intellectually curious people, you couldn’t ask for a better location.
  • Diversity: This region is home to a diverse population from which to build a diverse workforce. Vanguard’s clients are diverse in so many ways, and we want our employees to be a reflection of that diversity.
  • Location: I can get to Washington, D.C., and New York City by train in less than two hours. The airport is a 20-minute Uber ride from Center City.
  • Innovation: Recently, we opened our Innovation Studio in Philadelphia.  The Studio is a place for us to develop entrepreneurial ideas for new services or ways to improve client experience. We looked at Silicon Valley, Cambridge, and other locations—but we chose University City in large part because of the deep expertise of the region’s academic community.
  • Recreation: Arts, culture, sports, nightlife, restaurants, the Shore, the Poconos—you name it, and Philly’s likely to have it.

The Philadelphia region remains a vibrant place to raise a family and build communities and businesses. I’m proud to have been part of that, and I look forward to what’s on the horizon for the region in the years ahead.


The Chamber’s Select Greater Philadelphia Council is part of a core team of civic and business leaders who have crafted the case to bring Amazon’s second headquarters (HQ2) to the Philadelphia region. Bill McNabb’s focus on people, diversity, location, innovation and recreation reinforce the messages submitted in last month’s formal HQ2 proposal and provide a snapshot of why Greater Philadelphia is a great place to do good business. Learn more about the case for HQ2 at public.philadelphiadelivers.com and contribute to the conversation on social media using #PhillyDelivers.

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