Tag Archives: True Life

True Life: Cristina Gomes

Inside the Office:

Cristina Gomes is Vanguard Direct’s newest employee. She started only five weeks ago and has made a great impression. Cristina works in the digital and technology group as a business analyst and project manager. As a PM, it’s her responsibility to oversee a project from beginning to end. And as a BA, she focuses specifically on the project and/or product requirements.

What does this mean? It means she’s both detail-oriented and friendly; it means she’s computer-nerdy and also strategically savvy; it means she’s book and street smart; and it means she’s exactly the type of well-rounded individual Vanguard prides itself on hiring.

Outside the Office:

With a background in finance—she worked for companies including Barclays and Citibank—Cristina is no stranger to high pressure and stress. In 2009, she discovered yoga and found it was the perfect cross-training tool to complement her cardio and weight-training regimen. “I really only started working out in 2008, but I loved the way I felt after. Not only physically, but mentally, too.”

She loved exercise so much that she decided to get group fitness–certified in 2011. Soon after, she expanded her repertoire to include yoga (certified in April Martucci’s FireDragonYoga method), group fitness (certified by the AFAA, the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America), and TRX suspension training. These days, she subs for a few classes, runs a couple of body-conditioning classes during the week, and does some personal training.

Favorite Vanguard Moment:

While it’s hard to imagine having a favorite Vanguard moment after just one month, Cristina seems to already have many. Her favorite, however, is when her neighbor down the row offered up his keyboard. Our pal Mark Gadson, it seemed, wanted to swap keyboards in order to give the new hire a more ergonomically friendly device. Or so we thought…

It turns out that what Mark really wanted was for Cristina to have a keyboard that dampened the effects of her apparent finger strength. “I guess I’m used to trade floors and loud environments. I had no idea I typed so loudly!” she said. “I’ve never had anyone offer me their keyboard just to keep me quiet.”

Cristina Gomes’s strengths come in many shapes and sizes: project management, business analysis, yoga and fitness training, and it seems, a hard-ass keystroke.

Author: Eric Swenson


True Life: Sue Pabst

Sue Pabst, Senior Customer Service Representative

Inside the Office:

Sue is Vanguard Direct’s Senior Customer Service Representative, but she has many areas of expertise. Over thirty-three years at Vanguard Direct, she has worked in every department and therefore has an understanding of how every part of the company contributes to the whole. She has been involved with order entry, billing, data processing, customer service, and promotion. Currently, she creates promotional product solutions and acts as a liaison between vendors and Vanguard Direct.

Outside the Office:

Long Island, the summer escape for many New Yorkers, is Sue’s permanent home. When Vanguard Direct had a Long Island office, her commute was a mere five minutes, which is miniscule compared to the hour (-plus) trek to get to work now. In her free time, Sue enjoys traveling, going to Broadway shows, and quilting, and she has recently joined a book club. She is a regular at Fire Island and lives only three miles away from North Shore Beach. Growing up by the Atlantic has made Sue try most water sports and activities––she is a fan of kayaking but could do without snorkeling. So where does a woman who lives in most people’s ideal vacation spot go to relax?

Sue’s favorite retreat is Hawaii, where she has a timeshare with her sister, and she tries to go for a week or two every other year. A bonus perk of her Hawaiian vacation is seeing the multiple weddings that take place at night on the beach. (That sounds much more enjoyable than just people-watching on the slick summer streets of Manhattan!) Another fun part of being in Hawaii is attending local pig roasts, which serve as a way to celebrate a healthy life and good friends. One of the native staples to eat on the island is poi, a ground-up root that serves as a Hawaiian comfort food. But travelling twelve hours to Hawaii is not enough for this avid explorer. Sue has literally gone halfway around the world for new experiences. She has journeyed all the way to China and Tibet. Sue believes traveling broadens your horizons and that there is a monumental difference in learning about something and actually seeing and experiencing it.

Vanguard Direct Experience:

Sue began her career at Vanguard Direct when there were only four other employees, and out of the five she was the only one who was not a salesperson. It was a time before computers (BC, as Sue calls it), when she had to type up invoices on a typewriter and all five employees did the all the work for the company in one little room. In the beginning, she would have to call up vendors and suppliers, coordinate shipments, and do all of the “behind the scenes” work herself to get one job done. Even though there was a lot to do, Sue was happy to be working with good people. She started working with Jack O’Connell and now continues to work with his sons, Bob and Don. Throughout the years, she has done a little bit of everything and seen almost everything. Sue’s favorite part of the business is seeing ideas transform into reality––more important, she loves seeing the stamps “DELIVERED” and “PAID.” Both of them give her a sense of closure and accomplishment. It is an unparalleled experience to be able to watch a business grow from five people in a room to 157 employees in three branches. Senior Managers Bob and Don O’Connell like to joke that Sue knows more secrets about Vanguard than they do, but they both recognize that she has invaluable insight into the printing business. Although Sue admits that the prevalence of print is lessening, she maintains that there will always be those people who prefer paper to digital––print will never die.

Authors: Lindsey Clark, Liz Baron, MinJi Kim

True Life: Daniel Nehrbass

Inside the Office:

Daniel Nehrbass started working at Vanguard in a temporary position three years ago and was offered a full-time position. He works in the accounting department as a biller, handling all the invoices, statements, and bills. It’s one of the most important jobs in a company.

Outside the Office:

At his second job as a manager at the catering hall Cipriani, he commands a staff of 160–200 waiters and others. Daniel started working at Cipriani as a waiter during college. He liked working there because it was flexible, and over the years he kept getting promoted. Cipriani, which serves Italian food, holds weddings, bar mitzvahs, and other large functions. The biggest event he catered was 1,200-person dinner. Sometimes, Daniel goes home at 4 in the morning after working an event and reports to Vanguard a few hours later at 7:30 am. In addition to this, Daniel has owned a number of businesses and websites. He also sells waiter and doorman uniforms with one of his friends. He likes the financial benefits of a busy schedule.

Although Daniel didn’t want to live in New York City, he came here for school. He graduated from The College of Westchester with a degree in marketing/management, and then went back to school to get a BBA in Accountancy from Baruch. Since his life is centered on the city––his business is here, his business partners are here, and his home is in Brooklyn––he has made it his home.

Daniel’s sister has her own busy life as a manager in Philadelphia, and his brother works for an air-conditioning company. Reflecting on family life, Daniel said, “I found it strange that all of us are in management positions. I guess that’s how we were raised up.”

Vanguard Advice:

Daniel tries to stay busy. As an explanation for his fast-paced lifestyle, he told us “the world we are growing up in is not the world our parents were growing up in.” Daniel pointed out that today’s workers usually don’t get pensions, so we have to secure our own financial futures. He admitted that saving money for retirement is really hard but said it is necessary to think of the bigger picture. He told us to “set a future plan for yourself now.” When Daniel was in school his parents didn’t tell him this, although the current generation of college students hears this all the time.

Authors: MinJi Kim, Lindsey Clark, and Liz Baron

True Life: Peter McCann

Inside the Office:

Peter McCann began working at Vanguard Direct in 1992. As Senior Account Executive, he helps clients achieve their marketing and operational goals. He works hard on new business development and also is a very successful connector of clients and vendors. I have recently observed Peter exploring new technologies to reach customers. He maintains great relationships with clients, creating effective strategies to reduce costs and improve workflow.

Outside the Office:

Peter impressively balances family, friends, and fun. Family comes first, as his life is centered on his wife and kids. Peter has three daughters (17, 14, and 11). For the past eight years, he has coached his girls’ various soccer teams on weekends and cheered them on from the sidelines. (Believe me, having your dad as your coach is awesome. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I now look back and see how special and cool it was when my dad coached my soccer teams!) Peter’s wife is a great cook. He explained how she loves trying new recipes––he is understandably more than happy to be a taste tester.

When Peter is not on the field coaching, at home, or at work, he plays in an adult ice hockey league on Long Island. He has been skating since he could walk but just started playing hockey six years ago. There are about 1,200 men who play in the club. His team is called the Leaves (inspired by the Toronto Maple Leaves). Playing on this team, Peter has become good friends with some of the guys and truly appreciates the camaraderie of the squad and being able to get out on the ice for some fun. Not only is Peter an athlete, but he also plays the drums in his free time. Peter and some other musical Vanguardians are planning to meet, play, and see what they can come up with––at the moment, all we know is that it will be some sort of rock music (updates to come!). Who knows––maybe in a few months Vanguard Direct will host its first concert featuring these talented employees.

Vanguardian Advice:

As a kid, Peter grew up with a father involved in the magazine business. He learned a lot about the industry but soon realized it was not necessarily the direction he wanted to follow. Peter later worked in direct mail and was exposed to the printing business. It was here that he realized he might want to get involved in this industry, and many years later he continues to work at Vanguard Direct! In our chat, Peter stressed the importance of getting involved in work that you thoroughly enjoy. It’s not about the money or title––if you really value what you are doing and the people that surround you, it will be worth it.

Author: Liz Baron, Lindsey Clark, MinJi Kim

True Life: Kathy Lupo

In the Office: 

Kathy Lupo is the Ambassador of Vanguard.  She is the first face clients see and first voice they hear.  It is also her job to fix any logistical office problems.  Her duties include: managing reception, arranging client lunches and meetings, booking hotel reservations and organizing travel plans.  Kathy also keeps up with phone maintenance and handles the AC and office cleaning.  Her presence is very valued here at Vanguard Direct.

Outside the Office:

Kathy Lupo, originally from Grand Rapids, MI, made her way to the Big Apple with intentions to stay. She laid down roots in the Bronx, where she has lived for 25 years with her husband and two sons, Charlie (20) and Stephen (19). “It couldn’t have been planned any better!” Kathy explains, referring to her sons’ strong relationship because of their close ages.

One thing many people don’t know about Kathy is that she has a green thumb. Kathy grows cucumbers, oregano, green beans, garlic, peppers, spinach, basil, and tomatoes right in her backyard. She is very passionate about her garden and loves cooking with the fresh ingredients she has at her fingertips. Kathy’s favorite dish to make––and, fittingly, to eat––is Chicken Parmesan. She also makes pizza from scratch on Saturdays for her family. Not surprisingly, one of her dream vacations would be to go to Italy (as well as Sweden, because she’s Swedish!).

Kathy’s Favorite Vanguard Direct Memory:

Kathy began working at Vanguard Direct in 2005. Prior to Vanguard, Kathy had worked in customer service for Time Warner Cable and then for Goldman Sachs. After jumping around a bit, she wanted to find a place that she could call home––during her interview at Vanguard Direct, she made this known.

On her third day of work in NYC, the air-conditioning broke, which literally put her in the hot seat. Employees were quickly beginning to feel the heat. She was asked to provide everyone with ice, water, and anything else that would keep them cool. Going about her day, she did whatever she could to help her new coworkers, who quickly became her friends. (Who doesn’t love the lady bringing cold water on a hot day?) She had been a bit frazzled during the day, also experiencing the sweltering heat, but felt the reward of helping everyone else out. It didn’t matter that she hadn’t even been there a week, because in the first seventy-two hours, she learned that everyone believed in the work they were doing––how else do you explain persevering through 100-degree weather in Manhattan? She saw that every person in the company mattered, just like in a family. As if reading her thoughts, when Vanguard Direct President Bob O’Connell was leaving the office on that eventful day, he saw Kathy sitting behind her desk, smiled, and said, “Looks like you found your home.”

Authors:  Liz Baron, Lindsey Clark and MinJi Kim

True Life: Vanguard Direct

For eight weeks, I will be interning at Vanguard Direct in its New York City office. I overlap six weeks with two other interns who are also here for an eight-week period this summer, Lindsey Clark and Minji Kim. While I will be working in the marketing department, Lindsey is working for production, and Minji is in the digital department.

We have been pleased to get to know many of the NYC employees of Vanguard Direct during our time in the office, at lunch, and at after-work activities, like rock climbing, that Vanguard Direct employees have organized.

In the six short weeks we are together, we thought it would be fun to create a blog series to spotlight a few employees from each department of Vanguard Direct. It’s a unique way for us to learn more about the people we are working side-by-side with as well as gain some blogging experience. We’ll be asking these employees about what they do for Vanguard Direct but also what they enjoy doing in their free time and a little bit about their backgrounds. Utterly Orange is an expression of Vanguard Direct’s personality. With this series, we hope you’ll get a glimpse of who makes up that personality.

On the first day of my internship, I briefly met Peter McCann, a fellow Gettysburgian (I am a rising senior at Gettysburg College) who works in sales here at Vanguard Direct. I was quite nervous at first, but I found a particular comfort knowing that I had a connection to Peter through Gettysburg. Once the email blast went out that I attend Gettysburg, he proceeded to show me his old school ID (he still carries it around with him!) and share stories of his college experience.

It’s a small world, and I bet in the weeks to come that you will find some connections to these employees comparable to my experience of first meeting Peter.

I’m eager to begin working on True Life: Vanguard Direct … Are you ready to meet the employees?

Author: Liz Baron