Career Development: Les S. Builds a Diverse Career at Schwab
By: Beau Hombach
The ability to advance in your career is often attributed to two things: the drive to explore new areas of professional interest and working for a company whose leaders recognize your skills and prioritize your development. For Les S., a Sr. Manager in Digital Product Management at Schwab’s Innovation Accelerator Lab, the confluence of those advancement principles allowed her to not only take control of her professional future, but also afforded her the ability to pursue her passion for coaching others to own their personal career trajectory. Keep reading to learn how she's moved across different areas of our firm and now works to bring innovative ideas to life at Schwab.
Tell me about your career history at Schwab and your new role in our Innovation Accelerator Lab.
I have been at Schwab for around nine years and started out as a content strategist on the marketing side of our creative agency. I’ve had the ability to reinvent myself many times at Schwab since then, which is one of my favorite things about working at this firm - there’s advancement opportunity everywhere.
I eventually began managing the very same creative team I started at, but during this time, I discovered my true passion was in coaching others to help them succeed professionally. I followed that instinct and got certified in career coaching, which led me to work with the organizational development arm of the creative agency.
I then transitioned into learning development coaching for digital services employees, where I would help people push out their expertise or work with them on creating a program to help scale their knowledge and locate a desired career path. After some time there, I noticed a Lab Manager position open up and decided that it could be a great way to reinvent my career again.
In my new role as manager in the Innovation Accelerator Lab, I’ll be working with coaches and product people to ensure that they are facilitating similar types of learning development. It’s my hope to create an environment where people feel that they have support – whether that means being a sounding board, helping them find what they need, or making sure that they're working on building their careers.
You’ve had quite a diverse career so far - do you feel that working at Schwab gave you the opportunity to move into new roles?
Yes, I do. A big part of that career flexibility was due to having amazing mentors and leaders at Schwab. For example, when I found that I wanted to pursue career coaching, my team leader completely supported me during that transition. I feel incredibly grateful to be in an environment that has such amazing people, and where managers are open to my ideas.
Schwab has also been very supportive of my outside work, too. I do career coaching for women in corporate America, and everyone at Schwab was incredibly supportive when it was time to pursue my other passions outside of the firm. In all, I’m very, very lucky to work at a company that's given me so many opportunities and continues to let me expand on them.
What advice would you give people about internal mobility and how they can network to find new roles within their company?
The biggest piece is the relationships you build. I was lucky to be in a role where I worked with a lot of cross functional teams, so I had the opportunity to get to know people across our firm. Any time I was curious about other areas of work, I would set up meetings with relevant people in my area of interest and just chat. That's one of the really good things about our culture at Schwab; people are always willing to set aside 15 or 30 minutes for a coffee-chat about their jobs. It’s in that effort to form relationships that you start to really understand how many career possibilities there are within our company.
In digital services, we also do a quarterly event that's designed to connect the dots between your work and what other adjacent groups are doing. Going to those events gives you the ability to learn about other exciting roles, and also allows you to find the right people to reach out to and say “Could we get together for 20 minutes? I'd love to pick your brain about your career and your journey here.”
For those interested in taking the next step in their career – why should they join the team at Schwab?
One of the first things that comes to mind is the opportunity to grow with the company. As Schwab continues to expand, the amount of unique and exciting roles within the organization expands with it.
I’d also have to mention that it was surprising, and refreshing, to discover just how mission driven Schwab really is. The people inside our company focus on trying to make clients lives better – they truly walk the talk. In terms of finance, I was one of those people who found it mystifying – at Schwab, we are addressing the inherent discomfort people feel when it comes to their finances by making it possible for clients to pursue their financial goals. When it comes down to it, the career growth possibilities and dedication to our clients that’s kept me here.
By: Beau Hombach