Establishing a Network of Career Support

By Gaylen Osborn and Dre Manoni

In an effort to create additional opportunities for career development and to advance our company’s brand as a talent company, LPL Financial’s learning and development team launched a unique program in 2013 as a facet of our career development center. We asked several employees to serve as champions for career development and share their personal career journey. Launched as PathFinders, the names and bios of these individuals are posted on the company intranet along with their contact information so employees can reach out directly to them to learn more or ask questions. While Pathways Career Development Center offers tools and resources to help employees identify potential career paths and target learning needs, this additional component provides opportunities to network and create personal connections. From a humble beginning of 40 individuals, PathFinders has grown to a network of 200 employees.

How it works
Employees simply search the database of bios on our intranet by business unit or keyword and then email PathFinders directly to express interest in scheduling a 30-minute meeting.
To make things consistent and measureable, we created an auto-generated email that participants fill out when contacting a PathFinder to quickly communicate what topics they wish to discuss during the meeting. In addition, this email is automatically sent to our program administrator, allowing us to keep track of how often the program is being utilized. In 2014, we tracked more than 170 PathFinder meetings.

Let Your Light Shine
Pathfinder S LanternAs a way to symbolize the role, each PathFinder is given a small lantern to keep at his or her desk, which they receive along with a thank you message from our Chief Human Capital Officer, Sallie Larsen. It is a well-received gift, a great conversation starter and serves as a way to market the program. The lantern represents that PathFinders are shining a light for others to follow their own career paths.

Open to All
There is no special requirement for an employee to serve as a PathFinder. Any employee in good standing is eligible – and there is no required time commitment for this role. We believe that all employees who want to share their stories have value to bring. Our PathFinders include front-line employees, our Chief Executive Officer, and individuals from all levels and business units of the company.

Bridging the Gap
One of the benefits of the program is that it brings together employees from across the organization. With offices in different states and more than 100 remote workers, PathFinder meetings open up opportunities to connect with colleagues in other departments and locations. Employees are encouraged to hold cross-site meetings via videoconferencing or phone. The program also provides the chance to explore different business units to gain vantage points and perspective on the overall business or specific roles and positions.

Results of the Grassroots Efforts
While LPL Financial has a host of career development resources for our employees, our PathFinder program is the most widely-used program. Employees can connect with each other in meaningful ways to learn about other areas of the business or to get career advice. It creates a way to network within the company, and we have found the program to be a great support for our internal mobility efforts. Moving from one department to the next becomes more manageable with a structured system in place where employees can reach out to others across all levels of the organization and build personal connections. Here are some direct comments from participants:

“I love the Pathfinders program. It’s such a wonderful way to meet with folks around the firm and discuss career-pathing.” – Vice President, New Client Onboarding

“I really hope others here at LPL are taking advantage of Pathways, and I hope the other volunteer PathFinders are as helpful and open as mine was with me. Each person will have their own career path and may already have a clear plan for the direction they want to go; but I have found Pathways is a good tool to assist me with my career development. So thank you for putting this program together.” – Senior Internal Auditor

“My meeting with the CEO went great. It flew by in what seemed like 10 minutes. Thank you for suggesting. I’m very happy I did it!” – Practice Management Consultant and one of six employees who have had a one-on-one PathFinder meeting with LPL Financial CEO, Mark Casady

Broadening the Impact
As a result of our success with the program, we have enlisted our PathFinders to assist with LPL’s career development efforts in other ways as well. They are chosen as guest speakers for Lunch ‘n’ Learn events and they also serve as champions for other programs LPL hosts, such as speed networking events and instructor-led trainings.

Taking it Home
The program can be borne from the most simple grassroots effort. Start by inviting a handful of employees to talk about their careers with others. Elevate awareness for the program and these individuals by showcasing a few at a lunch and learn or on the company intranet. With awareness and increased engagement, you can create unique and meaningful opportunities for employees to pursue their career development.


Gaylen Osborn and Dre Manoni are employees in the Learning Development department at LPL Financial - a registered investment advisor and member FINRA/SIPC.


Gaylen OsbornGaylen Smith-Osborn is a high-energy, focused coach and facilitator specializing in career development and career transition for organizations.  Gaylen joined LPL Financial two years ago to establish Pathways, the company’s first career development center. Pathways serves the company’s 3000+ employees with career development tools and resources so employees can successfully navigate their careers. Gaylen’s role at LPL Financial also includes overseeing and facilitating a variety of professional development programs including MBTI, Situational Leadership, and DISC Assessments.



Dre ManoniDre Manoni has been working in career development for the last 10 years. She has a master’s degree in Organizational Communication with a concentration in Professional Coaching from Queens University of Charlotte. She has worked for both private and public universities prior to joining LPL Financial and as a career coach with clients from a variety of industries. She is a certified MBTI facilitator and has a passion for helping others brainstorm and create goals for their career journey. At LPL she manages the Charlotte Pathways Career Development Center where she assists employees with internal mobility, networking, resumes, interview prep and other career development focused goals and facilitates professional development training.

Contact info: gaylen.osborn@lpl.com

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1 Comment

Michelle Grant   on Friday 10/28/2016 at 07:47 AM

Great article. It has given me a few ideas for my organization

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the comments shown above are those of the individual comment authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of this organization.