At seventeen, Jennifer Schwitzer already knew she wanted to be a lawyer. Her passion for problem-solving, the environment, and learning all came together under the umbrella of law, and she could envision the steps to achieve her goal plotted on an invisible line in front of her throughout her young adulthood. Originally, when the time came to enter law school, she planned to become an environmental lawyer. But by graduation, she recognized another passion, energy law, and decided to pursue it instead.
After graduation, she dived wholeheartedly into the field, starting as an attorney advisor for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which seeks to standardize the rates of electricity and natural gas nationally. She went on to work at a few law firms in the DC metro area and witnessed the rise and tumultuous fall of Enron.
While she commends the Commission for granting her the project that helped launch the rest of her career, she decided after some time in DC that she wanted to take a break from big law firms and explore career options outside of the city that matched her skill set as much as her values. Schwitzer moved to Wisconsin to raise her family and find a position that satisfied her desire for the next step in her career in a different, more intimate environment. Shortly after her move to Wisconsin, she also explored careers outside of energy. In fact, inspired by a brief conversation on top of a double-decker bus at a friend’s wedding in London, she soon took on an entirely new business venture. Early in her time in DC, she discovered Five Guys Burgers and Fries Restaurant, and after talking to a colleague who owned a franchise in Miami with several stores, she decided to open her own franchise in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with some partners. This ambitious feat required her to balance her time between her new role at Integrys Energy Services, her family, and all the nuances involved with starting, running, and owning a business.
“This franchise was my baby; I was largely accountable for its success,” Schwitzer says. “I learned the entire life cycle of owning a business—acquiring the franchise, scouting store locations, leasing space, hiring a general contractor, supply chain management, finding good, hardworking employees, and in the end, selling it.”
Once the franchise was sold, Schwitzer’s desire to continuously learn didn’t stop. When she discovered an open position for an associate general counsel at transportation and logistics company Schneider National, she applied, asking key questions about the company’s culture before committing to the job. At Schneider, Schwitzer supports the company’s logistics segment, which includes oversight of the company’s brokerage, supply chain management, North American import/export, and warehousing divisions. She also supports Schneider’s intermodal and Mexico divisions as well as finance and handles the company’s antitrust matters. Certainly, Schwitzer’s role covers a lot of bases, but effectively managing these roles has become second nature due to her versatile background.
“Transitioning from energy to transportation was both easy and difficult,” she explains. “Energy and transportation are both regulated industries; both involve providing a service and moving a product from point A to point B. But I had to learn about the technical aspects and intricacies involved with transportation and logistics. My position requires having an open mind and thinking critically, creatively, and strategically. I set high expectations for myself, and I push myself and my team to provide excellent legal support and add value for the enterprise every day.”
In alignment with Schwitzer’s personal values, Schneider’s core values are: Safety First And Always, Integrity In Every Action, Respect For All, and Excellence In What We Do. These values drive the work that Schneider associates do every day, influencing every decision and hire so that the company operates in accordance with the company’s mission and vision. Within her own team, Schwitzer emphasizes an additional philosophy that aligns with the business’s values. She says, “Our legal team’s philosophy is to first be a good person, second a good business partner, and third a good attorney—in that order. Compromising our values is never an option. We partner with the business to create innovative solutions for problems to achieve the ‘how,’ rather than responding with a ‘no.’”
Schwitzer leads her team hoping to instill the same drive and passion she has for her work while simultaneously reiterating that work should not be the only thing in one’s life. Instead, through her leadership, she hopes to inspire, challenge, encourage, and bring purpose to her colleagues so that their work doesn’t feel burdensome. As a single mother of two, Schwitzer has learned to balance life and work, to embrace mistakes and celebrate wins, and to continually push herself to champion her roles both inside and outside the office. “It’s important to work hard, but also be able to adapt and adjust your lifestyle to fit in everything you wish to accomplish. I never ask for perfection. Instead, I ask that you own your work and try your best.”
Through the scope of her work, Schwitzer has used each opportunity and interaction to collect new life lessons. As a natural academic, she tries to learn from and make the best of all situations—good or bad—and to adjust her leading style accordingly. She cherishes healthy relationships and strives to model them for her team. During her tenure at Schneider, she has successfully negotiated contracts with two rail providers and various debt instruments, worked collaboratively to exclude the US Trade Representative’s proposed tariff on intermodal containers produced in China, and even obtained a company plane for business purposes. While her job’s versatility keeps Schwitzer feeling enriched, she says that her curiosity, determination, and passion for her work will never cease.
“Jennifer brings uniquely smart, creative, and business-oriented approaches to legal issues. She is a talented attorney, and we greatly appreciate our opportunities to work with her.”