JEFF HAUSWIRTH, SPENCER STUART
Jeff Hauswirth just might be the definition of a jet-setter.
As co-leader of global headhunting firm Spencer Stuart’s Asia Pacific operation, Hauswirth splits his time between Toronto and Sydney, Australia, finding the best talent the world has to offer for some of the globe’s top organizations.
Such an arrangement might be a lot to handle for some, but this isn’t the first time Hauswirth has crossed international borders for his career. In fact, he credits a year spent learning in Switzerland as a teenager with giving him an appreciation for what the world has to offer to those who go out and explore it. He had the chance to complete his grade 13 year at the Canadian Junior College in Lausanne, Switzerland, which opened his eyes to the opportunities that living and working abroad can offer.
“If I look back at my career and see what was a catalyst for success—it was starting then,” said Hauswirth.
“It was not just an educational experience in a classroom, but it was an educational experience living and going to school and being with other kids from around the world.”
Hauswirth’s experience in Switzerland wasn’t the only international aspect of his upbringing. As German immigrants who moved to Canada following the Second World War, Hauswirth’s parents made the trek with the hope that their children would be presented with better opportunities in North America. Hauswirth’s decision to pursue economics at the University of Guelph was just what his parents had in mind, and his first day of university was a particularly special event for his family—he would be the first of his relatives to pursue a formal post-secondary education.
Attending university wasn’t something that Hauswirth had always considered. But after his year in Switzerland, he realized that the workforce was becoming much more globalized. If he ever wanted to work in an international setting, he was going to be competing with a global pool of candidates. A university degree suddenly became a much greater necessity.
“The labour force then and even more so now is completely mobile,” Hauswirth said.
“There’s no friction to movement, so instead of competing for a job in Toronto with your fellow Canadians, you’re competing for a job with kids around the world.”
There are certain aspects of education that shouldn’t be overshadowed by competition though, Hauswirth noted. Choosing a certain educational or career path for the sole reason of making money is backwards thinking—“if you’re passionate about what you do, you’ll do it well and you’ll do well financially,” said Hauswirth. Pick what you truly love first, and the success will follow.
More than anything, Hauswirth believes people are the product of their experiences. He encourages young people to take courses that use “both sides” of the brain, in order to develop their creativity as well as their critical thinking skills, since both are important for the job market. With so many young people pursuing multiple degrees today, he also suggests that students try travelling or volunteering in a different part of the world between educational experiences.
“Travelling is one of the best ways to educate yourself,” Hauswirth said.
His advice has managed to influence at least one young person so far—his daughter pursued her post-secondary studies abroad, at Trinity College in Dublin.
“There’s many forms of education,” said Hauswirth. “And being in the classroom is just one.”