Kathleen C. Bock

Biography

Kathleen Bock worked her way through college. In fact, it’s what led her to transfer to Temple University ahead of her junior year. She felt out of place at her former college. While everyone she knew was going off to enjoy extracurricular activities, she was holding down a part-time job. She wanted to go to school where the other students felt more like her. She found such an environment in Temple. Upon her transfer, Ms. Bock also changed majors, from premed to accounting. “I needed a practical degree. I tried an accounting course and liked it,” she says. “The funny part is, it’s turned out to be so much more.”

Ms. Bock was inducted into Temple’s chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, the international honors society for accounting, finance, and information systems students, which exposed her to recruiters from the Big 10 accounting firms. In turn, she started to appreciate public accounting differently from how she initially perceived it. “I saw that it was central to maintaining the integrity of the foundational markets for the investing population, too. That meant my mother and your mother, and their hard-earned savings,” Ms. Bock says. “When you think about accounting in that light, a service element emerges. I care a lot about ethics, and that meant a lot to me.” At the same time, Ms. Bock was also coming to understand what it meant to be a woman in the workforce in the eighties. Away from the Fox School, she worked as an administrator for an HVAC company. “It was my first real experience with being held at bay because I wasn’t one of the guys,” she says. “Even the customers didn’t think I could help them.” But she had an ally in her boss. “He told me to ignore all of that and be my best no matter what,” Ms. Bock says. “I look back on that experience all the time. It very much formed who I am today. “In my early days in public accounting, the goal was to assimilate, to be like the norm, which was predominantly white male. That has changed a lot over the last 30 years,” she says. “The goal now is to be yourself. No matter what you are, bring your whole self to the workplace. And it’s the responsibility of the people in leadership positions to create environments that make that possible.” In 1997, Ms. Bock joined Vanguard, one of the world’s largest investment companies with about $5.3 trillion in global assets under management today. She was named a principal in 2000. Today, she also heads the firm’s Americas offices. She’s risen to such heights, in part, by nurturing a culture that values individuality, diversity, and hard work. Nonetheless, her greatest challenge today remains the same as it was when she landed at PricewaterhouseCoopers out of Temple: time. “I think you have to be mindful of where you spend your time. That’s been a perennial challenge for me, as it is for most professionals,” Ms. Bock says. “Do you spend it on yourself, your clients, your teams, or your family? It’s always front and center with me. I’m constantly asking, ‘Am I spending my time in the right places, and how do I decide what that is?’ And the answer is always changing.” The answer isn’t changing in its entirety because Temple has been a constant in her responses through the years. So much about our society may have changed since Ms. Bock graduated from the Fox School in 1986; but as a first-generation college student, she will always see the university as a rare opportunity for those who are used to having few, if any, opportunities. In short, she says, “Everyone can belong at Temple University.”

Temple University Degree
Bachelor of Business Administration ’86, Fox School of Business

Title & Company
Principal and Head of the Americas Region, The Vanguard Group

Temple University Awards & Affiliatons
Corporate Award, Second Annual Accounting Achievement Award, 2018

What I wanted to be when I was 20 years old
I really wanted to be a doctor. I worked part-time in an administrative role in an intensive care unit, and, initially, I was premed. Even after I switched to accounting, I still thought about it. But I had to be honest with myself and admit that it would be a long haul. And, financially, I wasn’t sure it was sustainable for me.

Best piece of advice anyone ever gave me
My grandmother would say, “Don’t see so much.” By that, she meant, let the little stuff go. I think it’s served me well as a leader because sometimes you can be too critical. With the pursuit of achievement, you can take it too far. So, I think about her advice often.