01 Jun 2014

In My Humble Opinion: Jan Swartz (MBA 1996)

Re: Jan Gilbreath-Swartz (MBA 1996); Rob Swartz (MBA 1996)
by Julia Hanna


SWARTZ: Captaining a global brand through the high seas
(photo by Susan J. Young)

Growing up in Houston, Jan Swartz (MBA 1996) was one of millions of viewers who regularly tuned into The Love Boat. Shot aboard Princess ships, the cruise line became synonymous with the onboard high jinks of Captain Stubing, Gopher, and Julie McCoy. "I've had many a person ask me if I'm the Julie of Princess Cruises," laughs Swartz, who joined Princess in 2001 and last year was named president. But the job entails a bit more than cruise-director cheeriness. "It's a 24/7 business, with ships sailing every day, everywhere in the world," Swartz says by phone from her office in Valencia, California. "Our ships are small cities."

Time on the road: 10 days a month. "We have 18 ships and 15 offices around the world."

Recent trip: A 48-hour jaunt to Japan to promote Princess as "the cruise line Audrey loved." (Hepburn—one of Japan's most admired celebrities—christened the Star Princess in 1989.)

Doesn't leave home without: Samsonite four-direction roller luggage; Eagle Creek luggage dividers; Bose noise-canceling headphones.

Most memorable sleeping arrangements: The roof of a chicken coop in Chiang Mai, Thailand. "After HBS, some friends and I bought around-the-world tickets from an air consolidator. You can get one very cheap by flying at off times of the day and in the same direction around the world. My husband [Rob Swartz, MBA 1996] jokes that my hotel requirements have changed significantly since I sold him on stories like this."

Where she'd like to visit next: The Galápagos Islands; Machu Picchu.

Travel tips: Global Entry, a program that allows for expedited customs clearance for preapproved, low-risk travelers. "I can fly in from Australia or Asia and be through LAX in as little as 20 minutes." Also: "Never check a bag. And always pack snacks."

Popular Princess itinerary: A 10-day Alaska tour, with 7 days on ship and 3 on land, including time at exclusive wilderness lodges and [in Denali National Park] on glass-domed railway cars.

Rewards of the biz: "I have learned so much on a personal and professional level by knowing people from cultures around the world. Cruising is a business where you're helping to create lifetime memories. That's pretty cool."

Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 1996, Section D

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