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Alumni Spotlight: Brigadier General George Schwartz

Pennsylvania National Guard

Brigadier General George M. Schwartz

Brigadier General George Schwartz is an Assistant Adjutant General of the Pennsylvania National Guard, and the Deputy Commanding General of First Army, Division East.

BG Schwartz was commissioned as a Armor Officer upon graduating as a Distinguished Military Graduate from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania in May 1984. After completing the Cavalry Officer Basic Course at Fort Knox, his first assignment was with the 1st Armor Division’s in Erlangen, Germany in Tank Platoon Leader, Tank Company Executive Officer, and other staff roles from 1984 to 1988.

After completing the Armor Officer Advance Course, he returned to Germany in 1989 as a Captain to serve with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. As a Cavalry Troop Commander, he effectively led his troopers through a border surveillance mission during the tumultuous period immediately following the fall of the Inter-German Border in 1989. He also served in other staff roles, including as the Assistant Regimental Operations Officer, until he ended his active service in 1993.

After several years in the Individual Ready Reserve, he returned to service in 1999 as the Operations Officer of the 1215th Garrison Support Unit in the US Army Reserve at Willow Grove, PA, and was promoted to Major. In November 2002, he became an Army National Guard officer in the 28th Infantry Division and was soon mobilized for the peacekeeping mission in Kosovo where he was the Operations Officer of an Infantry Battalion-Task-Force from March 2003 to February 2004.

Upon demobilization, he served as an operational planner for the 28th Infantry Division before taking command of the 2nd Battalion, 103rd Armor in April 2005 and was subsequently promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. During his command, he guided the battalion through its conversion into the 55th Brigade Special Troops Battalion.

In October 2006, he relinquished command to lead the 55th Brigade Combat Team (Forward) which was a 125-man multi-service, multi-national advisory team embedded with the 1st Brigade, 201st Afghan National Army Corps. Throughout 2007, this unit and its embedded advisors conducted counter-insurgency and combat security missions in 11 provinces in Regional Command-East.

In March 2008, he returned to the 28th Infantry Division staff and subsequently became the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations in January 2009 and was promoted to Colonel. He left that position to command the division’s 55th Heavy Brigade Combat Team from August 2010 to August 2012.

In addition to a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, BG Schwartz holds a Masters of Sciences in Human Resource Development from Villanova University and a Masters in Strategic Studies from the US Army War College where he was a student in the Advanced Strategic Arts Program. His other military education includes Command & General Staff College and various specialty courses; he is also a Joint Qualified Officer. BG Schwartz has received a number of awards including the Bronze Star Medal, the Pennsylvania Meritorious Service Medal and the French National Defense Medal in Gold.

A Philadelphia native, BG Schwartz lives with his wife and two daughters in Phoenixville, PA. In his civilian career, he is an independent consultant specializing in performance improvement and leadership & organizational development. 

Q:        When did you graduate from the Human Resource Development Program at Villanova?

A:        I started in the fall of 1993 and finished my coursework in December 1994. I took the comprehensive examination in the spring of 1995, so I officially graduated in May 1995.

Q:        Did you take courses through the on-campus option or the on-line option? 

A:        On-line was not an option then! Actually, I learned how to use the internet while I was a student there; browsers were the new thing….

Q:        What is your educational background and why did you choose Villanova’s HRD Program?

A:        I earned a bachelors degree in Political Science from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania and then spent nine years on active duty with the Army before I attended Villanova. Since then I have obtained an additional masters degree in Strategic Studies through the US Army War College.

           When I decided to end my active service, I was considering completing an MBA program and had been accepted to a couple of schools, but I changed direction towards human resource development because I wanted to leverage my military training experience into a civilian training career.

            I chose Villanova because of its curriculum and reputation—it was one of the few programs of its kind at the time—and also because of the campus visit. I liked the feel of the campus and I had a great meeting with Dr. Bush. It was my discussion with him that really settled it for me.

Q:        Are you currently employed?  If so, with what organization and in what role (title, duties, time in current role, etc)? 

A:        As a National Guard general officer, I have the unique opportunity to serve in uniform about half of the year, and the other 50% of the time, I am an independent consultant specializing in Performance Improvement and Leadership & Organizational Development.

            I am an Assistant Adjutant General for Pennsylvania, but I have an additional role as Deputy Commanding General of First Army, Division East; I have offices at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania and Fort Meade, Maryland. My primary responsibility is to ensure the readiness of Army National Guard and Reserve service members and units in the eastern US with a particular focus on Guard units in Pennsylvania.

Q:        How many years of service have you completed to date?

A:        I have been commissioned as an Army officer for more than 28 years, but I had a break in service from 1993-1999 – which includes the time that I attended Villanova. In 1999, I started serving again with the US Army Reserve for a few years until I joined the Pennsylvania National Guard. From October 2006 until July 2012, I served on active duty with the Guard in a number of different roles.

Q:        Before starting with your current employer, what was your professional background? 

A:        Before starting that period of active service in 2006, I was working full-time as a human resources professional. Between 1995 (when I graduated from the program) and 2006, I worked for three companies in a variety of roles, but for nine of those 11 years, I worked for the Rohm and Haas Company in Philadelphia. I held several positions while I was employed with them, including Plant HR Manager and HR Business Partner for a global business unit.

Q:        What aspect of the Villanova HRD Program did you find to be most beneficial? 

A:        I thought that the program was incredibly well-connected with the regional HR community, which benefited the students in several ways. For example, in almost all of our courses, the instructors brought in very good guest speakers who not only shared their expertise, but were very open to networking with students. Of course, Dr. Bush is still the master networker, and he is always making connections for students and alumni.

Q:        Was there any one course that stood out for you? 

A:        I don’t believe that it is required any more, but there was a course on Organizational Structure and Theory that I really enjoyed. I especially appreciated the different methods we learned for analyzing how organizations really work. I don’t recall his name, but the instructor was a priest from the School of Education, and he was a demanding—but fair—instructor. After each class, I would be mulling over some of the ideas that he challenged us with for days.

Q:        Were there any experiences while you were enrolled in Villanova HRD program that you believe really helped jump-start or advance your HR career? 

A:        The internship. I had a great internship at Rohm and Haas, and even though my first job out of school was with a software company, I maintained the connections that I had made at Rohm and Haas. Later when they were trying to fill a position, they contacted me because they knew me from that experience.

Q:        Why are you interested in the field of HR and how did that interest come about?

A:        I sort of backed into HR. After the Army, I really started my new career as a training & development manager. Training is still one of the key tools that I have in my tool-box, but in order to improve individual and unit effectiveness—which has been at the core of my entire professional career—an organization has to utilize a more holistic approach that utilizes the tools provided through HR: compensation, policies, etc.

Q:        What are your long-term goals professionally and how are you working towards them?

A:        I hope to be able to continue serving in positions of increasing responsibility in the National Guard for the next 10 years. I feel like I am ideally positioned now—I’m where I need to be as a new Brigadier General. There are some officer education courses I am applying for that I hope will help me advance to the next level.

            Something that I have noticed about myself though, is that some of the best qualities that I bring to my civilian career (knowledge, skills and other attributes), I developed as an Army officer, and there are some unique things that I do as an Army officer, I developed in my civilian career. So, as a consultant, I hope that I will have some interesting engagements that will help me to continue to grow professionally.

            After retiring from the military, I have been toying with the idea of getting into higher education, perhaps in administration, but ideally as an instructor.

Q:        What advice do you have for current HRD students? 

A:        Make the most out of your graduate school experience; you only get out of it what you put into it. In addition to the great experience I had as Dr. Bush’s graduate assistant, I represented the HRD program on the Graduate Student Council and met a lot of great people. I also did a practicum with Career Counseling that helped me develop career coaching skills.

Q:        Tell us about something new or exciting in your professional life.

A:        I was only promoted to Brigadier General in September, and for the two years before that I was serving full-time and I had a very demanding schedule. The flexibility I have in my schedule right now is a welcome change, and so I am exploring the possibility of starting a doctorate program in human resource development in 2013.

Q:        How about something new or exciting in your personal life?

A:        I have two daughters, just three and five years old, so everyday there is something new and exciting in my life—especially experiencing the world through their eyes.  

And one last question, who do you think will win the 2013 Super Bowl? 

I am an Eagles fan, but think they will be lucky to make it to the play-offs this year. I have been impressed with Atlanta’s season thus far; it could be theirs to lose. You’ll have to ask Dave Nocek if you really want a good prediction!

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