by Alexander Olson
Economics and Math Major

When you imagine the CEO of a company that controls $4 trillion in assets, the first word you'd use to describe him probably wouldn't be “laidback.” But that’s exactly how I’d describe F. William McNabb III, chairman and chief executive officer of Vanguard, a behemoth in the investment realm. 

Mr. McNabb came to Temple earlier this semester to give a speech as part of the Temple Economics Society's "Economics Week." Before his presentation, he was gracious enough to have lunch with a dozen randomly selected students from the economics department. Walking into this lunch, I thought I knew what to expect. Was I in for an hour-long, dry discussion about bond rates and derivative suits? Would he be completely disinterested in us, simply spending the whole period looking at his Rolex?

I was wrong on all accounts.

When we arrived, Bill McNabb greeted us all by name and seemed genuinely pleased to make our acquaintances. Even as powerful and important as he is, he still went out of his way to learn about us – our majors, our backgrounds, and our plans for the future. 

During the lunch, Mr. McNabb also shared his outlook on the current market based on his many years of experience. He explained the underlying causes of the post-election “Trump bump” on the stock market, his opinion on whether index funds should involve themselves in matters of corporate governance, and why the average person is better off investing with an index as opposed to an active trader. Many of the subjects he discussed involved complex financial concepts that can easily confuse the listener or, for some, cure insomnia. Mr. McNabb, however, managed not only to explain himself in terms that were easy to understand, but also in a way that captured our interest and fascination.

What struck me most about the man was his warmth and enthusiasm. He appeared to be very passionate about his business and very passionate about his employees. He really cares, which is one of the most important qualities in any leader. If Vanguard mirrors these elements, then I can’t imagine a better company.

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