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Why T. Rowe Price Values Veterans:
A Q&A with Jacob Pruitt of VALOR

12/01/19 | By Corporate Editorial Group

T. Rowe Price believes the diverse perspectives of their associates, ultimately yield the best decisions for clients. With that in mind, the firm launched VALOR @ T. Rowe Price. The new business resource group will serve and support veterans inside the firm and in our communities.

Jacob Pruitt, vice president and general manager for the Colorado Springs site, is one of the founders of VALOR. After high school, he went to boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina, was in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve all through college, and spent a year overseas serving in Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield.

Then, after graduating from Tennessee State University, he moved to New York City and began a career in investment banking. We spoke with Jacob about the program as well as his own experience moving from active duty to civilian life.

Jacob Pruitt, vice president and general manager for the Colorado Springs site

It must have been quite a contrast moving from active duty to a career on Wall Street. What was the transition like for you?

It was eye-opening— I quickly identified two things I had to reconcile. One, those two different worlds had two distinct languages. The military is all about "command" and "control." It's mission-oriented.

In Corporate America, I learned I had to soften my style. I couldn't be as direct and had to be more collaborative to get things done. I also realized that I had to help my organization and colleagues understand how my military skills translated into this new corporate setting.

You've now been working at T. Rowe Price for over five years. Please tell us a bit about your current role.

I head up our Colorado Springs site which has 1,000 employees. I also manage the T. Rowe Price Program for Charitable Giving, an independent, nonprofit corporation and donor-advised fund that helps clients with planning and managing their charitable giving.

A typical day involves making sure that our operations, strategy, and resources all align with meeting the end needs of our customers. That may mean working on specific initiatives to help drive customer satisfaction or articulating T. Rowe Price's investment philosophy to our customers. From an associate's standpoint, it means ensuring we're working with the best and the brightest here in Colorado Springs and training them to serve our customers.

It's also my job to ensure that T. Rowe Price is a good corporate steward. That can include volunteerism, local grants, or stepping up when the community faces unique challenges.

What sparked the idea for VALOR?

There are six military installations here in Colorado Springs, and we have an intense concentration within T. Rowe Price so several individuals approached me with the idea because they knew my military background, and I was also part of the firm's diversity council. I thought it was a phenomenal idea, and it spurred conversations with the executive team and those on our diversity and inclusion leadership team. There were at least 50 or 60 associates who were passionate about this issue and wanted to make this happen.

What are the group's primary objectives?

VALOR will serve and support the veteran community inside of T. Rowe Price and in our communities through four areas: community, career, culture, and commerce. We will engage our local community by partnering with military-focused community service groups and nonprofits to help veterans as they transition into new roles within the firm. Another focus is on careers and fostering a public perception that T. Rowe Price has many different types of jobs available. We hope to attract military vets and help them grow and flourish inside the organization, ultimately increasing our representation for military veterans at all levels across the firm.

We also want to make sure the firm's culture welcomes and embraces our military veterans and their spouses, as well as active reservists. We're also looking for ways to contribute in a commerce sense. That could mean, for example, partnering with external organizations where there is a military business owner.

What kind of initiatives are you planning?

Externally, we'll have resume writing workshops and recruiting events where we will articulate T. Rowe Price's mission and values and how those align with military veterans. Our goal would be to attract those individuals and then establish specific mentor relationships for those vets.

Over the next few years, we want to position T. Rowe Price an employer. It's a formal recognition to acknowledge a workplace that has resources for vets such as a business resource group, clear career opportunities, and tailored on-boarding.

Part of VALOR's mission is to underscore the valuable skills that veterans can offer. Which did you personally find the most useful in your finance career?

The number one skill is leadership. As a 17-year-old Marine, I led a hundred people. Change management is another one. Most military soldiers move every 18 to 24 months, so we understand change and know how to adapt quickly. We're also committed and loyal to our missions, so our tenure working for firms tends to be longer.

Technical skills are a significant asset. Many in the military have received training in cybersecurity, computer software, satellite commands, and more. We find that, when individuals transition into civilian roles, those are some of the unique skills they bring to an industry.