Nathan Schwagler's Post Center Experience: Surreal

Nathan Schwagler

Editor's note: In November, Entrepreneur magazine and The Princeton Review ranked the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of South Florida's Muma College of Business No. 10 among entrepreneurship graduate programs in the United States. The reviewers said the program was the best in the Southeast and named USF as the only university in Florida to make the Top 25. It also was the 10th year in a row the center has been on the list. In recognition of the honor, 10 graduate-entrepreneurs were interviewed and profiled. This is one of them:

Nathan Schwagler cofounded the innovation labs at one of the most iconic museums in the world.

A 2009 graduate of the University of South Florida's Muma College of Business, Schwagler has worked in the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg for nearly four years, serving as the lead program designer and executive facilitator.

Getting there was a natural progression after he graduated from USF's Center for Entrepreneurship, which in November was ranked No. 10 in the nation for graduate entrepreneurship programs and was named the best program in the Southeast by Entrepreneur magazine and The Princeton Review.

The center has been on Entrepreneur magazine's Top 25 list for the past 10 years and is the only Florida school to make the grade.

"I'm not surprised in the least," he said, "that the faculty and administrators of USF's Center for Entrepreneurship have again been recognized as one of the top graduate program providers in the United States."

His education at the center taught him how to identify opportunities and focus on solving underlying problems experienced by key stakeholders, end users and paying customers.

At the Dali Museum, Schwagler develops innovation labs that offer corporate education courses on creativity and innovation, applied creativity labs for clients interested in tackling real-world organizational challenges and custom-designed corporate offsite retreats.

As a consultant prior to his current position, Schwagler supported more than 100 organizations and thousands of innovators in the mapping, development and deployment of their innovation capabilities, with the goal of driving business outcomes.

"Not only did the center help me begin to see the world – and my life – through opportunity-colored lenses," he said, "but these skills also became the foundation upon which I've built my career as a business professional."

Schwagler, 33, is a published author of peer-reviewed and press articles as well as a co-authored textbook titled, "Organizational Creativity: A Practical Guide for Innovators and Entrepreneurs." He has delivered presentations that range from "Art, War and B-School Innovation" to "Techniques for Utilizing Surrealist Artwork to Instigate Creative Cognition." He has held workshops at dozens of academic conferences over the past eight years.

He holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from State University of New York College at Buffalo and dual master's degrees in creative problem solving and applied entrepreneurship.

"I use what I learned at USF every single day," he said. "Those skills have been integral to helping teams and organizations identify interesting problems and then solve them with creativity, imagination and entrepreneurial thinking."