Head of Design - Institutional Participant Strategy and Development

Vanguard, one of the world’s largest investment management companies and a recognized employer of choice seeks a Head of Design for its Participant Strategy and Development team. Vanguard is based on a simple but revolutionary idea-that a mutual fund company should be managed in the sole interest of its investors. To ensure that the interests of investors always come first, Vanguard is owned by the Vanguard funds, which in turn are owned by the investors. We’re still the only company structured this way. Today, we state our mission broadly: To take a stand for all investors, to treat them fairly, and to give them the best chance for investment success.

Institutional Investor Group

Participant Strategy and Development (PS&D) is part of Vanguard’s Institutional Investor Group (IIG), a division that provides investment products, advisory services and expertise related to Defined Contribution, Defined Benefit, and Endowments and Foundations. The division represents approximately $900B in AUM. Specifically, the department focuses on the Defined Contribution, or 401(k) business. Specifically, the function sits within the Participant Experience (PEx) group.

Participant Strategy and Development

PS&D is the creative and strategic hub for our 401(k) participant experience which seeks to help more than 4 million individuals better prepare themselves and transition into retirement. The department comprises multiple teams including strategy, data and analytics, and creative, which includes writing, design and UX. Working together, these teams collaborate to develop, plan and execute on products, services, and ultimately experiences that serve our clients. PS&D’s mission is to continue to progressively evolve and improve the participant experience and drive improved participant outcomes through both design and digital interactions, to partner with others in co-creation of the experience, to steward the PEx brand personality, to continuously advance our capabilities with regard to multi-media, and to partner with design leaders across the organization to ensure brand alignment, where needed.

Head of Design for Participant Strategy and Development

The design team comprises roughly 50 crew, which include four direct reports, spanning (visual, multi-media, and user experience) designers, information architects, developers, and web content administrators. This person oversees the day-to-day functions of the team, drives design innovation and is responsible for continuing to evolve the experience to better serve participants, deepen client relationships, attract new clients, and improve Vanguard’s brand perception.

Duties and responsibilities

  • Collaborates with peers in PS&D across analytics, strategy, and writing, to move the organization forward.
  • Sets the creative direction for PS&D. Champions design thinking, represents the voice of the user, and reconciles the voice of design with business goals.
  • Leads and manages the design function within PS&D. Provides guidance, training and motivation as necessary to develop direct reports and others. Hires, evaluates and counsels crew. Sets high performance standards, reviews performance, and provides actionable feedback. Follows corporate disciplinary procedures when required. Fosters a working environment that focuses on innovation, collaboration, positivity and personal development. Mentors and grows new design talent at Vanguard.
  • Develops and implements strategies and tactical plans that help PEx achieve desired departmental outcomes. Works with senior management in planning, developing, and executing short and long range goals. Participates in development of the department budget. Reviews expenses and ensures unit operates within budgetary guidelines. Actively seeks out operational efficiencies.
  • Engages with PEx leadership to understand both IIG and PEx objectives and prioritized outcomes. Identifies where and how design can provide the most value.
  • Works with peers, team, and research experts across the organization to identify client needs and understand behavior which should then influence recommendations.
  • Encourages debate and discussion. Ensures application of quality controls throughout projects.
  • Drives creative and innovative approaches and results. Keeps abreast of industry, market and company trends both within and outside of financial services, and partners with team to experiment, to test and learn.
  • Partners with sales and client services to tell the PEx story to both prospects and existing clients, during meetings and industry events. Is a strong representative for Vanguard.
  • Ability to develop strong relationships with PEx partners. Can find common ground and productive compromises when needed.
  • Identifies opportunities for continuous improvement and to increase team effectiveness. Leads initiatives to achieve the improvements.


  • Passion for clients and improving the client experience.
  • Senior-level design management experience
  • Minimum eight years of relevant industry work experience leading creative or UX teams for a firm or an agency. Financial services industry experience preferred.
  • Proven track record of taking nebulous problems and solving them through the development and delivery of creative, innovative, and functional solutions.
  • Undergraduate degree in graphic design, human-centered design, design thinking, software engineering , psychology, research or writing are typical for people in this position. Advanced degree preferred.
  • Experience managing or working with cross-functional teams across departments and marshalling efforts to achieve a common goal.
  • Experience presenting. Proven ability to influence and persuade.
  • Domain experience in design and/or user experience.
  • Comfort with analytics, finance, and IT.
  • Exceptional leadership, organizational, prioritization and interpersonal skills.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.

Special Factors

Vanguard is not offering visa sponsorship for this position.

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