TED@UPS Speaker: Scott Szwast

Redefining the global players is truly at the center of our interconnected economies.

Scott Szwast

Scott Szwast

Think “global company,” and the businesses that first come to mind are undoubtedly massive conglomerates or far-reaching tech corporations with innumerable international branches.

Scott Szwast turns this image upside down, redefining the global players truly at the center of our interconnected economies.

With a palpable passion for the unpredictability of global trade, Scott Szwast has spent the last 25 years supporting international transportation.

For 10 of them, he worked with an ocean freight line, helping to import and export goods.

The last 15 years he has spent with UPS, deep diving into distribution, transportation, technology, trade compliance, and the countless other aspects of cross-border trade.

Today, he is a marketing director for UPS, where he works closely with companies expanding into new markets to understand the particular needs of growing organizations and to develop the solutions to support them.

To receive an email alert when the video of Scott’s presentation at TED@UPS is ready for viewing, click the “SUBSCRIBE” button in the top menu and check the TED@UPS box. You’ll receive an email when the other TED@UPS videos are available as well.

Click here to learn more about TED@UPS.


Q&A with Scott Szwast

1. As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Initially, Spiderman.  I thought that would be a pretty good career, taking pictures for the Daily Bugle by day and fighting crime in the streets at night.  I went so far as to goad spiders into biting me, but never managed to get hold of an irradiated one.  Which I found surprising at the time, since I grew up on Ft. Detrick which I knew had housed the U.S. Army’s biological weapons program.  I figured if irradiated spiders that could convey superpowers were anywhere, they’d be there.

2. What was your first job?

My first job was working at a roller skating rink in Myrtle Beach, SC in a dog costume.  I was Astro The Skating Wonderdog, and my responsibilities were primarily Hokey-Pokey related, and couple skating with little girls having birthday parties.  Fortunately they could all skate backwards, because that is hard to do in a dog costume.  I also swept the rink, worked the skate rental counter, and listened to Prince’s Purple Rain album about a billion times.

3. Where do you get your best thinking done?

In bed, at 3am, immediately following a sudden awakening and a panic attack.

4. What’s your favorite TED Talk?

Amanda Palmer’s amazing talk on ‘The Art of Asking’!

5. Favorite quote?

“My son, your ineptitude is so vast, your incompetence so profound, that I am certain you are inhabited by greater power than I have ever known.”

― Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn

6. What book are you reading right now?

511--TItXsL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_90% of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your Plate by Rose George

7. Living or dead, who would you invite to dinner?

Miyamoto Musashi, the 17th century samurai and ronin who won 60 sword duels, many of them while armed only with wooden practice weapons or a piece of boat oar.  He withdrew from the world to compose his treatise on strategy The Book of Five Rings, which is frankly much better than Sun Tzu’s Art of War.  He would be incredibly interesting to have at a dinner party, as long as none of the other guests challenged him.

8. What’s the best career advice you ever received?

“No one gets promoted because they did a good job or worked hard – they get promoted to solve new problems”

9. Last weekend on earth – where would you go?

London.  When the trumpet sounds and the End Of The World party is held, it will be in London.  London will go out swinging.  And if the ragged, decimated survivors are able to pull together an After Party, that will also be in London.

10. What’s something you see happening 10 years from now?

Interesting, informative, and enjoyable conversations occurring with artificial intelligences.

11. What is the best gift you have ever received?

Pullquote share icon. Share

No one gets promoted because they did a good job or worked hard – they get promoted to solve new problems.

A Father’s Day card bearing the impression of a foot that had been painted blue.  This was great not only because my son made it for me, but because it also solved a three month old mystery about why the child had come home from pre-school with one foot painted blue, which he completely refused to discuss or even acknowledge.

12. Who would play you in a movie of your life?

Probably a muppet or some kind of CGI animation

13. Favorite activity after work

Playing first person shooter video games online against millennials and not coming in at the absolute bottom of the leader board.  I count ranking next to last or better in the “win” column.

Learn more about Scott:

Article: Managing a Borderless Supply Chain: Overcoming regulatory issues to create a world-class supply chain.

Article: Leading the Healthcare Delivery Race: How healthcare companies can create a logistics network that turns challenges into opportunities.

Article: Growing Abroad: Is global growth part of your healthcare strategy?



TED@UPS If there’s one thing every UPSer has in common, it’s that we have an irresistible desire to figure it out and get it done. And that leads to some amazing ideas. TED@UPS explores both the destination and the journey of ideas – big and small – that inspire us, challenge how we think or feel and even change the world.

Click the RSS icon to subscribe to future articles by this author. RSS Feed


We welcome the re-use, republication, and distribution of our content – just as long as you credit us. So we ask that you insert the following tagline when you use our content:

Reprinted with permission of Longitudes, the UPS blog devoted to the trends shaping the global economy.