Heather E McGowan on stage

Heather E. McGowan Keynote Speaker

  • Future-of-work strategist, named "One of 50 Leading Female Futurists" (Forbes)
  • 2017 Global Linkedin Top Voice for Education
  • Author of 'The Adaptation Advantage: Let Go, Learn Fast, and Thrive in the Future of Work'

Heather E. McGowan's Biography

Heather E. McGowan is a future-of-work strategist, keynote speaker, thought-leader and author.  She is a leading voice in her field helps organizations and leaders prepare for the future of work.  Heather strongly believes that the future of work will be learning-centric and in order to thrive, organizations and leaders must prioritize continuous learning in the workplace.

With the rapid advancement of technology tools into the domain of human knowledge work, humans must continuously learn and adapt, and with this transition comes information overload. Heather gives lucidity to this topic through her graphic frameworks and powerful metaphors, all backed by research.  Heather provides audiences with courage and insight to illuminate their path forward in this ever changing landscape.  She is dedicated to transforming the mindsets of organizations across the world to help them to prepare and adapt to jobs that do not exist yet.

In 2020, Heather was recognized in the Top 50 Female Futurists in the World by Forbes.  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.

McGowan has spoken for a range of clients, from start-ups to publicly traded Fortune 500 companies, at small summits to C-Suite executives as well as large events in the tens of thousands.  Clients include AMP Financial, Siemens, Facebook, Mastercard, Biogen, Citi, The Financial Times, Microsoft, Accor Hotels, Google, AARP, The World Bank, Paramount, and Chevron, among many others.

Heather is frequently quoted in the media, notably in the New York Times. She serves on the advisory board for Sparks & Honey, a New York–based culture-focused agency looking to the future for brands.  Her academic work has included roles at Rhode Island School of Design, Becker College, and Jefferson University, where she was the strategic architect of the first undergraduate college focused exclusively on innovation.  In 2019, Heather was appointed to the faculty of the Centre for the New Workforce at Swinburne University.

McGowan’s recent book, The Empathy Advantage: Leading the Empowered Workforce (2023), was named a Next Big Idea Book Club finalist, and a Top 10 Business Book to Read in 2023 by Business Chief. Her other book on the future of work, The Adaptation Advantage (2020), explores the complex and ambiguous future of work and has been recognised as a must-read by many critics. It was named by Soundview as one of the best business books for 2021. She also the co-editor and author of the book Disrupt Together: How Teams Consistently Innovate and a Forbes contributor.

Heather is openly gay and often discusses rapid societal and cultural changes in how it impacts work and general adaptation. She is not exclusively a diversity or LGBTQIA speaker but she does touch on elements in her talks when requested. She tailors each talk bespoke to the audience.

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Heather E. McGowan's Speaking Topics

  • The Empathy Advantage: Leading an Empowered Workforce

  • The Human Value Era

  • Adaptation Advantage: Leading in a Post-Pandemic World

  • Learning: The Real Future of Work

  • Creating High Performing Teams Without Burnout

  • Leveraging the Power of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging

  • Do Not Fear ChatGPT: The Future of Work is Human

  • The Future Company: Culture and Capacity

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Videos of Heather E. McGowan

Heather E McGowan 2021 Showreel
Heather E McGowan 2021 Showreel
World.Bank.Keynote.McGowan.Future.of.Work
World.Bank.Keynote.McGowan.Future.of.Work
Detroit: Future of Work Keynote: Schoolcraft 2019
Detroit: Future of Work Keynote: Schoolcraft 2019
Speaker Reel
Speaker Reel

Articles, Media & Podcasts

Books by Heather E. McGowan

Heather E McGowan Book cover
Empathy Advantage : Leading the Empowered Workforce
The Adaptation Advantage: Let Go, Learn Fast, and Thrive in the Future of Work
Disrupt Together book cover
Disrupt Together: How Teams Consistently Innovate (Co-Authors, Stephen Spinelli, Jr. and Heather McGowan)

Comments & Testimonials

“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.”
Pharmaceuticals Client
“The world needs so many more thinkers like you. Thank you for the inspiration and confirmation. So well done.”
Executive in a European conglomerate globally
“Heather nailed it. She inspired my people. It was more than I had hoped for.”
CEO of a venture-backed US based, beauty products company

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