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Heather McGowan

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5 out of 5

Author of "The Adaptation Advantage" & Workplace Futurist

Author of "The Adaptation Advantage" & Workplace Futurist

Travels From Travels From:
Boston, MA, USA
Speaking Fee Speaking Fee:

Heather McGowan Biography

Future-of-work strategist Heather E. McGowan helps leaders prepare their people and organizations for the post-pandemic world of work. The last few years have forever changed where we work, who works, how we work and measure work, what we do for work and, most importantly, why we work.

McGowan is a sense maker, a dot connector, a deep thinker, and a pattern matcher who sees things that others miss. McGowan gives people the courage and insight that illuminates their path forward. She’s transforming mindsets and entire organizations around the globe with her message about how the next phase of work will focus on continuous learning, rather than simply learning once in order to work. Pulitzer Prize Winning NYT columnist Thomas Friedman frequently quotes McGowan in his books and columns and describes her as “the oasis” when it comes to insights into the future of work. In 2020 McGowan was recognized as one of the top 50 female futurists in the world by Forbes. McGowan's sessions help employees and leaders alike prepare for and adapt to jobs that do not yet exist.

McGowan has provided keynote addresses for audiences from start-ups to government organizations to universities to publicly traded Fortune 100 companies, including AMP Financial, SAP, Abbvie, Biogen, Fidelity, FIS, Mastercard, AT&T, Financial Times, Siemens, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Kaiser Permanente, JPMorgan Chase, Lockheed Martin, MassMutual, MetLife, Best Buy, Raytheon, The US Army, Accor Hotels, Paramount, Chevron, AARP, Zendesk, Tableau, Fidelity, de Beers, Professional Beauty Association, and The World Bank among hundreds of others. McGowan addresses audiences in person from small summits for C suite executives to large events in the tens of thousands. Her virtual talks have reached hundreds of thousands. Often quoted in the media, notably in the New York Times, McGowan serves on the advisory board for Sparks & Honey, a New York–based culture-focused agency looking to the future for brands.

McGowan’s academic work has included roles at Rhode Island School of Design, and Jefferson University, where she was the strategic architect of the first undergraduate college focused exclusively on innovation. In 2019 McGowan was appointed as a faculty member of the Swinburne University Centre For the New Workforce in Melbourne, Australia. In 2022, McGowan was awarded an honorary doctorate from Pennsylvania College of Art and Design in addition to earning her MBA from Babson College and her BFA in Industrial Design from Rhode Island School of Design.

McGowan is the co-editor and author of the book "Disrupt Together: How Teams Consistently Innovate" and a Forbes contributor. McGowan’s first book on the future of work, published in 2020: "The Adaptation Advantage: Let Go, Learn Fast, and Thrive in the Future of Work," reached number three in business management books on Amazon and was named one of the best business books of 2021 by Soundview. McGowan’s most recent book "The Empathy Advantage: Leading the Empowered Workforce" published in March 2023 and is a finalist for the Next Big Idea Book Club and identified as a top ten business book to read in 2023 by Business Chief.

Heather McGowan Speaking Topics


    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.

    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.


    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.

    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.


    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.

    In the past, we learned to work. Tomorrow, we’ll work to learn. Discover how with Heather in this stunning and actionable keynote message.


    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.

Heather McGowan Videos

  • Heather E McGowan 2023 Showreel
    Future-of-work strategist Heather E. McGowan helps leaders prepare their people and organizations for the post pandemic world. As a keynote speaker,...
  • Heather E McGowan 2021 Showreel
    Future of Work Strategist, Heather E McGowan, shares her insights into the impact of the pandemic on the future of work
  • Future of Work: XQ Symposium | Heather E. McGowan
    This video is about Future of Work. Presented at the XQ Symposium, an effort of Laurene Powell Jobs Emerson Collective to reimagine high schools for...

Heather McGowan Books

  • The Empathy Advantage: Leading the Empowered Workforce
    The Empathy Advantage: Leading the Empowered Workforce
  • The Adaptation Advantage: Let Go, Learn Fast, and Thrive in the Future of Work
    The Adaptation Advantage: Let Go, Learn Fast, and Thrive in the Future of Work
  • Disrupt Together
    Disrupt Together

Speaker Lists Featuring Heather McGowan

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  • Psychological Safety Speakers

    Top Keynote Speakers on Psychological Safety

    The highest performing teams in any business all have one thing in common: psychological safety. The shared belief that employees or team members are safe to express themselves and won't be punished for mistakes fosters...

  • COVID-19 Crisis Management Business Speakers

    Top Business Speakers on Recovery from the Coronavirus

    COVID-19 has had an undeniable impact on the lives and livelihoods of people across the globe. From restaurant and retail industries to small businesses and leading corporations, today’s business leaders and executives...

  • Top Futurist Keynote Speakers | Growth and Technological Innovation

    Leading Futurist Speakers

    Futurists may have their sights set on the future, but they know better than anyone that you have to know where you've been to know where you're going. The popular futurist speakers in this list study past and current trends...

  • Leading Female Futurist Keynote Speakers

    Leading Female Futurists

    The female keynote speakers in this list are bringing fresh eyes and new perspectives to current and future trends within a wide range of industries. As women in STEM, business leaders, bestselling authors, technology...

  • Remote Work Futurist Speakers

    Remote Work Advocates & Leaders

    Remote work has become more mainstream in the past few years - a trend that was quickly accelerated by COVID-19 - and has lead many people to believe that remote options are a key element in the future of work. The remote...

  • Top Speakers on Corporate Culture & Human Resources

    Innovative Speakers on Corporate Culture

    Now more than ever, corporate culture has become an important component of employee retention and satisfaction. And as such, it can be essential to any business's ultimate success or failure. As experts on topics like human...

  • Business Speakers Addressing Transformation and Change Management

    Leading Experts on Change Management & Business Transformation

    How can we prepare, equip and support people to successfully adopt change in order to have better outcomes and greater achievements? Change management gives a structured approach to support the people in your organization as...

  • Workplace Futurists and Innovation Speakers

    Future of Work: Top Speakers on Futurism and Innovation in the Workplace

    As experts in technology, human resources, and leadership, the business speakers in this list know how trends and current events affect labor demands, business models, and more. After the pandemic greatly impacted businesses...

  • Knowledgeable Economic Experts and Futurist Thinkers

    Economic Futurists who Predict Trends and Opportunities

    Economic futurists explore forecasts and potentials from an economic and financial standpoint. Economic futurists have predicted events from the 2008 recession to the COVID-19 pandemic as early as 50 years in the future....

FAQs on booking Heather McGowan

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  • What topics does Heather McGowan speak about?

  • Where does Heather McGowan travel from?

    Heather McGowan generally travels from Boston, MA, USA, but can be booked for private corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. For more details, please contact an AAE Booking agent.
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    AAE Speakers Bureau has successfully booked keynote speakers like Heather McGowan for clients worldwide since 2002. As a full-service speaker booking agency, we have access to virtually any speaker or celebrity in the world. Our agents are happy and able to submit an offer to the speaker or celebrity of your choice, letting you benefit from our reputation and long-standing relationships in the industry. Please click the Check Availability button above and complete the form on this page including the details of your event, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536, and one of our agents will assist you to book Heather McGowan for your next private or corporate function.
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Heather McGowan is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics such as THE EMPATHY ADVANTAGE: LEADING AN EMPOWERED WORKFORCE, THE HUMAN VALUE ERA, ADAPTATION ADVANTAGE: LEADING IN A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD, THE REAL FUTURE OF WORK and CREATING HIGH PERFORMANCE TEAMS WITHOUT BURNOUT. The estimated speaking fee range to book Heather McGowan for your event is $30,000 - $50,000. Heather McGowan generally travels from Boston, MA, USA and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Cheryl Cran, Erica Dhawan, Eric Boles, Mutale Nkonde and Zack Kass. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Heather McGowan for an upcoming live or virtual event.

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