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Gary Swart – Maryland

CEO, oDesk

Road to Greatness

Maryland Alpha Phi Gary Swart is an American technology executive best known for being the CEO of oDesk, the world’s largest online workplace. oDesk enables businesses and freelancers to work together on demand via the Internet. After joining oDesk, Swart drove the company’s business strategy, including new pricing that helped oDesk surpass competition and establish market dominance.

Swart received his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Maryland, College Park. He began his career in sales, leading corporate sales at Pure Software and Rational Software. From 2003-2004, he was a business unit executive for small and medium business sales for the Americas at IBM’s Rational Software Product Group. In 2004, he became VP of Worldwide Sales at Intellibank, where he was responsible for leading the sales organization.

Swart joined oDesk as Chief Executive Officer in September 2005. Under his leadership, oDesk has grown to millions of registered freelancers working for businesses around the world. More than 35M hours were worked on oDesk in 2012, resulting in $360M in gross services and 60% year-over-year growth in hours billed.

Also under Swart’s leadership, oDesk implemented staffing for the company internally that heavily incorporates freelancers working on oDesk’s own platform — for every internal employee in the company’s headquarters, there are approximately three “full-time equivalent” team members working for oDesk in their online workplace.

Swart is a mentor to entrepreneurs and students, and frequently speaks to these groups about the challenges growing businesses face.In 2012 alone, Swart gave more than 30 talks to universities, incubators and other organizations fostering entrepreneurship.

As the CEO of oDesk, Swart is also a thought leader in the future of work, how best to hire and manage teams, and the rise of the “freelance economy.” He has spoken at the Inc. Leadership Conference, The Economist’s Ideas Economy panel, South by Southwest, TechCrunch 50, GigaOM Net:Work, and at Harvard Business School which teaches a case study on oDesk.

His commentary has appeared in a variety of publications including LinkedIn, Forbes,TechCrunch, and The Washington Post. He has also appeared on numerous TV and radio shows, including CNBC, BBC, Bloomberg Television, NPR, and the Fox Business Network.


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