Future-of-Work Strategist & Author
Future-of-work strategist Heather E. McGowan helps leaders prepare their people and organizations for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Third Industrial Revolution was marked by computerization and automation of physical labor, laying the foundation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which will be notable for the rapid advancement of technology tools into the domain of human knowledge work. In this world, humans must continuously learn and adapt, and with this transition comes information overload. Heather gives lucidity to this topic through her illuminating graphic frameworks and powerful metaphors, all backed by deep research. In 2017, LinkedIn ranked her as its number one global voice for education. Pulitzer Prize–winning NYT columnist Thomas Friedman frequently quotes Heather in his books and columns and describes her as “the oasis” when it comes to insights into the future of work. Heather’s sessions help employees and leaders alike prepare for and adapt to jobs that do not yet exist. Read More >
Future of Work & Learning
Multi Generations in the Workplace
Future of Work
The global pandemic did not only change where work takes place, it is altering where work fits in our lives. The combination of a shift in leadership from Boomer and GenX to GenX and Millennial and the entrance of Generation Z into the workforce is altering the fundamental values around work. Labor shortages show no signs of abating and are shifting the power from employers to employees. In this RUPT (Rapid, Unpredictable, Paradoxical, and Tangled) world, leaders can no longer be unquestioned experts driving productivity with fear. The leadership profile shifts to a humble and curious learner who can inspire potential, help talent connect with their own internal drive and motivate with culture, love, and belonging. The factory default settings have all been removed from who works (diversity as a norm), where work takes place (home, office, anywhere, hybrid), what we do for work (exploration over routine tasks), how we lead (inspiration over fear), and why work in the first place. In this talk, buckle up for a fast paced and inspirational overview of the post pandemic world comprising an empowered and engaged workforce.
For much of the history of work, talent was defined by the things you could make. In this new era, talent will be defined by what you can make out of your people. Research shows that human capital comprises 90% of all enterprise value in the S&P 500. As we hand off more and more mentally routine and predictable tasks to technology, human talent and ingenuity will be the true competitive advantage. Read More >
We’ve entered the era of human value, an era in which humans are seen as assets to develop rather than costs to contain. In this talk, discover how to navigate and master this challenging yet thrilling new world. Read Less ^
When Heather E McGowan and Chris Shipley wrote The Adaptation Advantage (April 2020, Wiley) even they didn’t realize just how quickly their predictions would come to pass. Then the coronavirus global pandemic required an immediate and dramatic shift in work, learning, and leading, and predictions they made for the next three to five years, occurred over the following three to five weeks. Read More >
Overnight, companies remapped supply chains, pivoted product lines, and transformed to distributed work-from-home organizations. Entire university and school systems adopted virtual delivery exclusively, something many said they would never do. This new normal requires a laser focus on culture, purpose, trust, and psychological safety as we embark on the largest social experiment in human history. The virus has accelerated our future of work, expedited our human transformation to digital creation, and placed an even greater burden on leaders to inspire and motivate human potential. Even as the pandemic subsides, our new ways of working will remain. With Heather’s strategies in place, those transformations can be for the better. Read Less ^
We live in times of accelerated change driven by exponentially growing technologies paired with a hyperconnected global market economy. As a result, work tasks as we knew them in the past have become fragmented, automated, and augmented by technology. This reshaping of tasks requires that we rethink our systems of education and workforce development, our organization of work and workers, our process of talent attraction and retention (including learning and development), and even ourselves. Read More >
In the past, we learned to work. Tomorrow, we’ll work to learn. Discover how with Heather in this stunning and actionable keynote message. Read Less ^
Organizational leaders have far more influence over those they lead and manage than previously understood, recent research shows. The results-oriented management approach that drives productivity at the expense of workers’ mental health and safety reaches far beyond the workplace. In fact, leadership styles can affect the lives and futures of workers’ children. Read More >
A series of recent studies show that leader behavior is impacting society not just in business performance outcomes, but through the daily lives of workers and their children. It is fair to conclude that how one leads today will fundamentally affect the workforce of future generations. Given the magnitude of this impact, we must think differently about leadership. A more empathetic leadership style best serves companies, communities, societies and the formation of the next generation workforce.
In this talk Heather will share highlights from various studies on the impact of leadership on both mental health, thriving, and performance to help organizations attract, nurture, and retain leaders that create high performing teams without burn out. Read Less ^
The only thing evolving more quickly than technology is societal and cultural change. Demographic change has long been in bloom, but social and cultural norms are now rapidly shifting with marked changes in gender and sexuality identity, not to mention a broadening of the landscape of diversity. Read More >
While diversity once included primarily binary gender, race, and culture, it now includes neurodiversity, cognitive diversity, age, as well as a long-overdue focus on class and social mobility. Social unrest has moved these long-overdue efforts on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging to the forefront, requiring more of our leaders.
Leaders today must empathize both with individuals in underrepresented categories as well as those navigating these shifts to create effective teams that can learn, adapt, and create new value. When the inside of your organization, at every level, looks like the markets you seek to serve you are leveraging the power of DEIB. Read Less ^
Today and in the future of work, the most in-demand skill will never be the one you have now— it’s the one you can develop tomorrow. Humans have an unmatched ability to learn and adapt from living in climates previously uninhabitable to creating tools that can, at first blush, seem to outperform our abilities. Read More >
Consider the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) released about fifty years ago. When ATMs became widespread it was assumed the position of bank tellers would be outsourced to history when, in fact, the position of bank teller has grown continuously and slightly faster than the labor force as a whole. While tellers required per branch location declined, the demand for branch locations increased and along with it the demand for bank tellers.
What does all this mean? That the future of work is human. Once we escape our outdated seeking of single-disciplinary skill sets in fear of being replaced by technology, we can focus on developing our uniquely human skills, notably our ability to learn and adapt to emerging technologies. In this talk, Heather will share how the forces of atomization (jobs broken into job fragments addressable by outsourcing), automation (robots, process automation, etc.) and augmentation (humans leveraging technology to extend their potential) will work in concert constantly changing but not replacing human cognitive and physical labor. Read Less ^
Brands, products, & services. Time and productivity. These are the benchmarks of the past. Read More >
But in this hyperconnected and constantly evolving world, we can no longer focus on the outputs. It’s time for us to focus on the inputs: culture and capacity. Culture is the internal operating systems of how the organization creates value. Brand is the external expression of the culture. Brand is how your customers experience your culture. Capacity is the organization’s ability to respond to challenges.
Discover why the companies that endure and thrive will be those that can clearly articulate and nurture their culture, while continuously expanding their individual and organizational capacity and being mindful of the wellbeing of their people. Read Less ^
"A truly inspired and uplifting presentation. Thanks to Heather McGowan and all presenters for providing substantial guideposts to navigate the future of education and work. There are a multitude of silver linings out there and educators are in the position to make great things happen for all community members. Bravo."
"Not only was working with Heather an absolute pleasure, but her virtual keynote address was beyond compare. Her speech secured our largest audience to date and attendees unanimously praised her inspiring and engaging message. We cannot recommend her highly enough!"
"Heather has a unique ability to communicate complex information that is accessible to the public AND credible to the expert. She gave a superb online talk at the record breaking 'Brainfood Marathon 2020', which was not only the most watched of the 80+ sessions across the 24 hours, but 'most requested' by those missed it. If you are looking for an expert analyst on the future of work who can speak to the widest possible audience, look no further than Heather McGowan."
"I was fortunate enough to hear Heather speak at the Innovation in the 'Age of Accelerations' Forum. She is an amazing communicator and a driving force, inspiring new relevant perspectives. Her presentation is a 'must see' by leaders across government, academia, and industry who should be preparing our society for the future of work and the future of learning… The future of work is learning!"
“Engaging content. Articulate and personable. Well researched. Interactive and fun! Heather brought all of this and more. We needed a speaker who could address the future work, and Heather’s message about adaptation touched on a number of topics relevant to our workforce, such as learning, distributed work, collaboration and leadership. In this 'new normal' of work from home and virtual meetings, Heather adapted her content to our needs in an interactive and meaningful way.”
“The power of a presenter is in their message, their knowledge, and their connection to their audience... Heather will deliver a keynote over video and of the many things I am concerned about, her impact on the greater CAEL membership is not one of them. She will be a star, instructive, up-to-date, and will give a sense of hope that is imbued all throughout her talks. As we all pivot to the new COVID normal, I am looking to Heather to provide latest thought leadership and information to keep me thinking about the future for my organization. I recommend her to everyone, and she is one of the few speakers who would do as well via video as Face to Face. Part of that is her direct, congenial, self-sharing personality. Seeing her on video actually enhances her engagement with the audience, rather than having to focus on a speaker hundreds of feet away. Give me Heather virtually any day. Her message, immense knowledge and synthesis, and her connection to the audience — all hi fidelity via video. She is my go-to futurist.”
"Heather has the unique ability to synthesize and intellectualize large amounts of often-disparate data into a cohesive, clear, and actionable strategy. I have never met a person with greater ability to craft clear actionable vision and strategy from ambiguity and complexity and to lead diverse teams towards a common vision."
“Heather is my go-to person because are a lot of mirages out there when it comes to the Future of Work and she is the oasis. She is the real deal. Her ability to convey information in both words and visuals together are really powerful.”
“In a world where speakers claim to be experts, Heather is a genuine expert who can speak.”
“As a university president, entrepreneur, and board member, I have never ever seen anyone better than Heather at demystifying complex information to provide a path to action.”
“Heather is in a category of her own—a singularly gifted strategist who sees the future and communicates it with clarity.”
“Heather provided the spark, the insights, and the energy to move our HR team forward. Her talk had something for everyone on our team, from our centers of excellence to our HR partners, from our leaders to our operations team, from our learning team to our compensation group. In particular, her discussion of the future of work and the importance of learning at the heart of organizational life really hit home for all of us.”
“I was fortunate to hear Heather speak at the Innovation in the “Age of Accelerations” Forum. She is an amazing communicator and a driving force, inspiring new relevant perspectives. Her presentation is a “must see” by leaders across government, academia, and industry who should be preparing our society for the future of work and the future of learning...the future of work is learning!”
“In the war for talent, organizations must be able to offer employees a path that goes beyond typical career progression. Heather presents a compelling and thought-provoking vision that focuses on lifelong learning and adaptability for employees, which the pace of technological change essentially requires. Her analysis is comprehensive, yet easily understood. She distills it into actionable steps to help organizations move towards creating an environment in which employees and organizations mutually benefit and are well positioned for an uncertain future.”
“In a world where we are drowning in information, clarity is power. Many add to the noise and the fears about the future of work; but Heather has done the homework, the thinking and crafted the vision for adapting with supreme clarity. Her straight talk and clear insights will hit the top ratings at your event - guaranteed.”
“Heather 'simplifies the complex' with stories and visuals delivered in an authentic and engaging manner that leave people feeling empowered to become adaptable, lifelong learners.”
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