Best places

Best places to work: NEUBERGER BERMAN GROUP

George Walker, CEO of Neuberger Berman, talks about the importance of employee ownership after the collapse of former parent Lehman Brothers. View more in this series

New York | 1,900 employees | 3rd among organizations with over 1,000 employees

In a two-minute video, Sandy Pomeroy tells viewers that in addition to being a managing director and portfolio manager at Neuberger Berman, she runs a cattle farm with 2,300 grass-fed cows. In another video, Walter Luhr, assistant vice president and corporate actions/ proxy manager, reveals he used to play guitar in a band that toured with The Sex Pistols, The Ramones and The Clash.

These staff mini-biographies are part of a newly launched “Did You Know?” series of videos, each of which highlights an aspect of a Neuberger Berman employee's life outside of the office. The videos are becoming massively popular within the firm — one in particular garnered 1,000 hits in just one day.

The “Did You Know?” series was created by the company earlier this year as a means for the members of Neuberger Berman's staff to get to know one another better.

“It's a way of personalizing (our employees) and recognizing that there's a lot more to our people than just investing,” explained Heather Zuckerman, managing director and chief administrative officer.

“It's been a great tool to improve connectivity within an increasingly global firm,” added George Walker, Neuberger Berman's chairman and CEO.

Neuberger Berman executives greatly encourage employee interaction (and it should be noted that most of the videos end with the employee inviting viewers to come by their desk to talk about their life outside the company).

The videos are one of many elements the company employs to foster a sense of community.

Another element stems from a love of founder Roy Neuberger — art. Mr. Neuberger was a painter who realized that, although he was a great selector of stocks, he would never be a great artist. So when he founded Neuberger Berman in 1939, he became an avid art collector. A portion of his collection of abstract paintings from emerging artists hangs along the walls of Neuberger Berman's offices, which both Mr. Walker and Ms. Zuckerman believe encourages creativity and fosters conversations.

Also, in addition to having staff baseball and volleyball teams, Neuberger Berman is proactive in community service. Every May, which is when the company celebrates its independence from Lehman Brothers (Lehman bought Neuberger in 2003, but Neuberger became independent again in May 2009), instead of having a company party, the firm engages in a week of community service.

This aspect of the company is also immensely popular among employees, as roughly 1,300 of Neuberger Berman's 1,900 staff members engaged in some form of community service in the past year.

“We're a firm whose clients are New York City cops and retirees in China, so it's important to remember that our job is to serve others,” said Mr. Walker.

The biographical videos, the modern art, the charities all go toward making “employees feel bound together,” according to Ms. Zuckerman. In turn, all of these ingredients lead to a greater level of transparency and openness. At Neuberger Berman, people feel comfortable exchanging ideas and making suggestions to upper management.

Based on several comments from employee survey responses, the firm's staff appears to agree wholeheartedly. One staff member praised Neuberger's “open-door policy,” in which “all employees at all levels are encouraged to interact and further their industry (and) firm knowledge.” Another commended the firm's “intellectual and collaborative environment.” A third appreciated the company's “friendly and positive atmosphere.”

“We value independent thought,” said Mr. Walker. “Investing is a team sport with people working closely together for a long period of time.”

“These (elements) foster collaboration,” added Ms. Zuckerman. “We believe this leads to innovation.”