Bill Schawbel: Big Time Business Man, Even Bigger Heart
Partners for Youth with Disabilities is honored to introduce our second PYD Legends Award recipient, Bill Schawbel. Bill is a man of many trades – aside from his new acclaimed title of PYD honoree, he also self identifies as an Intrepreneur, Entrepreneur, and General Manager.
Bill’s titles did not come effortlessly, making all of his achievements that much more impressive. He held senior management positions with The Gillette Company, including President of Gillette-Japan and President of Braun North America. He also was instrumental in areas of acquisitions and business development both in the United States and internationally. In 1981, he founded his own business, The Schawbel Corporation, and in the 35 years since, he has formed over 50 companies, many of which he has managed worldwide. In July of 2014, The Schawbel Corporation was sold and Schawbel Technologies LLC was established, which now includes consumer product development and research.
It all started with Bill’s mother, Esther Schawbel, who didn’t finish school. She was his mentor. She grew up on a farm, and drove tractors when she was twelve. She was an entrepreneur all of her life in the knitting business. She had a yarn store and taught knitting for over 70 years. In fact, Bill worked for her starting when he was six years old and got paid 10 cents an hour. One of his first jobs in the knitting store was as a hooker. He finished the hooking of the rugs! In her quiet way, she managed the house and also taught at the Jeremiah Burke School. The “Jerry” recently won a $100,000 prize from EdVestors for being the most improved school in Boston.
His involvement with nonprofit organizations is extensive and often times requires collaboration with global companies. Currently, Bill is involved with 23 non-profits, and he is quoted saying: “My philanthropy is geared towards three areas: education for all, diversity, and entrepreneurship.” Although he is a distinguished business man, he is constantly involved with and dedicated to philanthropy efforts, community outreach, and inclusion. He entered into the world of nonprofit work with knowledge from the corporate world, and since then, has been interested in implementing that knowledge in philanthropic endeavors and the consulting business. One of his goals is to “develop sustainable income for nonprofits using business people and strategy for generating revenue.”
One of Bill’s current efforts, which began in 2015 at Tufts University with Dr. Susan Roberts, focuses on developing approaches to preventing malnutrition and improving cognition and literacy in at-risk children. From their partnership, a patent has developed for a new food formulation for nutrition and cognitive enhancement, and the research team has been testing the food in villages in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa and in Boston. The preliminary results are extremely positive. Larger studies are underway, and Bill hopes to scale the project worldwide. Although this project will be a for-profit business, Schawbel says proceeds will go to those who are malnourished and sold to others who want to improve their nourishment and cognitive thinking.
He “feels flattered to be honored by PYD” because it is an organization that fits with all of his philanthropic interests. We can assure you though, Bill, that the honor is all ours.
We hope to see everyone on May 18th to join us in celebration with and honoring such a benevolent man. Tickets are still available – don’t miss out!
This post was written by Jackie (Xiao) Yan, Juan Zhou, Olivia Mannion, and Mary Grace Alcaro of the BU PRLab. Edited by Nicole Malo.