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An Interview with Heather McGowan

by | Mar 17, 2022 | Interviews,

Heather McGowan

Heather McGowan

Future of Work Strategist, Keynote Speaker, Author at Heather McGowan

Key Topics:Future of Work
Location:Florida, Massachusetts, USA
Bio:

Future-of-work strategist Heather E. McGowan helps leaders prepare their people and organizations for the post-pandemic world. As a keynote speaker, Heather gives lucidity to complex topics through her research-rich, graphic frameworks and powerful metaphors. In 2017, LinkedIn ranked her as its #1 global voice for education and in 2020 McGowan was listed as one of the Top 50 Female Futurists in Forbes. NYT columnist Thomas Friedman describes her as “the oasis” when it comes to insights into the future of work. McGowan is the coauthor of The Adaptation Advantage (April 2020).

Heather has recently featured in Onalytica's Who's Who in The Future of Work report.

How did you get to become an expert in your key topics?

I have an undergraduate degree in industrial design from which I learned to find and frame challenges in complete ambiguity. My master’s is an MBA with a concentration in entrepreneurship. My professional experiences span consumer, medical, and sporting goods product design, design strategy, boutique investment banking, and management consulting as well as a few stints in higher education where I worked on redesigning education for the changing workforce.

From my corporate clients to my academic clients I found myself spending the majority of my time and energy explaining, through presentations, how the world is and was changing. In 2014 I wrote a series of articles linked in about the changing nature of work. The second part in the series went viral and close to 90,000 people read it in the first few days. I began getting speaking requests from all over the world. My first talk post this series was in Australia in 2015. The video from that talk also had a bit of a viral run and in 2018 I started speaking exclusively and picked up representation through bureaus and agents in 2019.

What sub-topics are you most passionate about?

I am a champion for humans in the learning-centric future of work. This means all humans. We have treated humans as a cost to contain rather than an asset to develop but that is, finally shifting.

Who influences you within these topics?

Historians and ethnographers often offer the greatest insights. Historians because, undoubtedly, we have faced something similar before. Ethnographers because they give insight into humans, especially how humans react and adapt.

What do you think the future holds in this space?

I define “this space” as work as that is my focus and within that realm, the pendulum has swung back to workers as the greatest source of value creation. In the Milton Friedman Shareholder Value Era, from 1975-2019, humans were considered the means by which value was created as a result they were treated as a cost to contain.
The reality is, during that period of time, humans increasingly created the value directly and, in essence, became the value itself in organizations. The great resignation, reset, or reshuffle (pick your word) is really about the balance of power shifting back to the workers themselves to define how, when, where, and why they engage in work.

If a brand wanted to work with you, which activities would you be most interested in collaborating on?

Speaking opportunities.

What are your passions outside of work?

Community. I believe we put jobs as our central concern for too long. We put our jobs ahead of our health, our families, our communities, and the ironic, net result, as we were burnt out and disengaged. If we put our communities first, prioritize our families and our health, we will unleash more human potential.

What would be the best way for a brand to contact you?

Please contact my Manage-Her Melissa.

 


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