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Heather McGowan

Keynote Speaker

Future of Work Strategist, 2017 Global LinkedIn Top Voice for Education

Heather E. McGowan is a champion for humans in the learning-centric future of work. McGowan is the coauthor of both The Adaptation Advantage (2020) and The Empathy Advantage (2023). 

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Heather McGowan'S SPEAKING FEE $25K - $40K

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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) and The Empathy Advantage (March 2023).

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Heather McGowan’s Speech Topics

  • Rethinking Resilience to Drive Performance

    As we navigate the next era of work in the face of rising technological capabilities, notably generative artificial intelligence, economic uncertainty, and potential economic slowdown, and as we make sense of the coronavirus pandemic now in our rearview mirror, we have a profound opportunity to reconceive work for greater human performance. The post-pandemic period, thus far, has been marked by an erosion of trust, notably in leadership, a drop in engagement, and five consecutive quarters of declining productivity. With these metrics we grasp at words like resilience, grit, and persistence; we ask our people to, again, “do more with less” without stopping to assess where we have been and what we have been through—notably, how we have integrated work and life to forge the best path forward from this moment to build a better future. Contrary to the popular belief and pursuit that success drives happiness, research suggests happiness drives success, as the companies on the “best places to work” lists outperform other organizations where employee experience is neglected. In this talk, we explore resilience through concepts such as rhythm, social capital, connection, and belonging, happiness and wellness, the power of trust, and the imperative for psychological safety, that collectively, unlock human potential to achieve higher performance from our talent. 

  • The Empathy Advantage: Leading the Empowered Workforce

    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

  • The Human Value Era

    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.

    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. 

  • Creating High-Performing Teams Without Burnout

    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.

    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. 

What other organizations say about Heather McGowan

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

Human Resources

What other organizations say about Heather McGowan

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.

Business Consulting

What other organizations say about Heather McGowan

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!

Education Programs


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