Jeff Schwartz Disrupts the Fortune 100 for a Living. On Sabatigo, He Disrupts You.
Updated: May 11
It's rare, but sometimes Jeff Schwartz has to miss what he calls our "Friday Sabatigo Conclave." When he does. his colleagues on our Executive Team stay grounded in patience. Our Principal Strategist for Innovation is also the #1 expert in the world on the future of work after Covid, so sharing Jeff is our job.
After 30 years of consulting at Deloitte and PWC--most of them as principal or partner--Jeff has lived and worked on 6 continents as a highly-prized strategist to the most powerful business leaders in the world. Along the way, he has taken his wordsmith's chops to market, too, writing regular publications for Deloitte on human capital sustainability and most recently (Jan 2021) penning a best seller that could hardly be more timely: Work Disrupted: Opportunity, Resilience and Growth in the Accelerated Future.
What our lucky Sabatigoers are going to relish most about being in Paris and Berlin with Jeff is that this mega-consultant to the Fortune 100 is first and foremost an insatiably curious thinker for whom immersive travel and the warm exchange of powerful ideas are foundational to how he lives. They'll also enjoy that this data-driven and gifted analyst is known by one-and-all to follow his heart. In his first talk with us on Sabatigo, Jeff returned our passion with his, saying: "the universe brought us together with this project. I ignore plenty of things, just not the universe."
Origin to Escalation
Jeff is a native New Yorker, which in many ways means he met the whole world before he ever left home. His elite mind and powerful work ethic opened the Ivys to him, first Cornell and then both Princeton and Yale. Yet as he burnished his pedigree, Jeff also showed an early commitment to the "life of the mind" and to public service. At Cornell, he studied the liberal arts, advancing his love of history and governmental policy. And then he went to Nepal with the Peace Corps, where he taught Math and Science for more than two years. When he came home from Nepal, Jeff escalated his learning as aggressively as he could, completing both a Princeton MPA and a Yale MBA in only three years.
Jeff's relentless drive to grow his expertise and meet the world compounded as his professional career set sail. From investment banking with J.P Morgan to partnership at PWC, he hung his professional hat on a dynamic array of postings from Belgium to India to Russia. Moving every two years and traveling constantly, Jeff stayed grounded by how much he loved meeting new people, new ideas and new cultures. (If you ask the average well-traveled professional to sing Happy Birthday in 4 different languages, you get a blank stare. With Jeff, you get about 6 versions of the song, Danish and Mandarin included.) He also kept himself balanced by remaining loyal to the humanitarian ethic he'd embraced in Nepal, taking a two year Peace Corps assignment in Russia even after being named a PWC Principal.
The Future of Work
There's a chance Jeff doesn't know your CEO, but we at Sabatigo would tell you not to bet on it. That's because Jeff's work at PWC and then Deloitte has brought him into just about every C-suite in the world. A constant along the way has been how much Jeff believes in the resilience of top-talent to embrace change while nurturing innovation. That's why among future-of-work specialists globally Jeff stands out so much for his position on Artificial Intelligence and Machine-Learning technologies.
These powerful new tools are the printing presses of our era, the steam-engines of right now. Of course our scribes feel threatened. Of course our yeoman-managers do, too. But when we take even a few reflective steps back from what seems threatening, it's as true now as it was in those other eras: human capital can and will leverage new technologies to make work easier, more noble and more satisfying. This is what innovation has always promised, and this is what innovation will always yield.
Jeff's special expertise in the future of work has put him in almost constant global demand since the pandemic hit. He can tell us how many times he has moved house in thirty years, but one wonders if he can tally the number of video interviews and podcasts he has done in the last six months? Doubtful, as the stream of requests has outpaced his time to honor them all. What his eager and mirth-filled wisdom reveals when you listen to Jeff talk is that his confidence in the world is as high as it was when he returned from Nepal as a 20 something.
Our problems today are different, but they aren't fundamentally harder for human being to manage than they were when I started my career. Business strategy will get things plain wrong sometimes, because that's the way of decision making in fast-moving waters at scale. But many of the hardest decisions today as before are going to be made well. Why? Because not much that I've seen in business has been driven by deep cynicism, hard hatred, abject fear or bad faith.
On Sabatigo, we can't wait for Jeff's love of innovation to open up the start-up ecosystems of Paris and Berlin for our Sabatigoers. The range of mentorship excellence Jeff will bring to his Wonder-Walks will be astonishing to our travelers. Just imagine that Jeff would cost thousands of dollars a day to consult with on business strategy. Now imagine the genius of Jeff for two weeks, criss-crossing the business landscape of two amazing cities? We are blessed at Sabatigo to have this to anticipate. Our travelers will have no measure for what Jeff's wisdom will be worth.