Alumni Profile: Jonathan Schwartz, B.S. ’92, M.B.A. ’99
Jonathan Schwartz, B.S. ’92, M.B.A. ’99, senior director of risk management at Under Armour, has vivid memories of his first meeting with the company. It was 2005; Schwartz was on the partnership track at accounting firm KPMG. Under Armour—the Baltimore-based upstart in what, at the time, was an emerging performance-apparel industry—was about to go public and needed someone to build its internal audit function.
“I was captivated by the story,” he recalls. “Here’s this tough little company, like the underdog overmatched boxer that doesn’t know to be afraid, that created its signature performance-wear T-shirts and a new industry right under the noses of giants.”
Schwartz, a Baltimore native and finance major who started out with Chase Bank of Maryland and worked on Wall Street for Chase Manhattan and then for McCormick & Co., relished the challenge of creating a function at Under Armour from scratch.
“I knew a chance like this wouldn’t come around very often, being able to develop infrastructure and build a team from the ground up,” he recalls.
“Protecting the brand is a full-time job and one that I love.”
Schwartz’s risk management team, which now includes internal audit, asset protection, global insurance, ethics, and product safety and compliance, can be seen as the most literal personification of “Protect This House,” the company’s motto. One of the team’s primary roles is to safeguard the brand in an expanding global market.
“Protecting the brand is a full-time job and one that I love,” he says. “Our overall growth rate and international expansion keeps my team on its toes. We cannot afford to get comfortable; we have to keep pushing forward, learning and implementing every day. We are passionate about the [Under Armour] brand and we protect it as our own.”
That passion, he says, is just as evident in Under Armour’s clientele: “We give our customers that extra edge—if you know you’re wearing the best product in the world, you can push yourself just a little bit harder.”
Schwartz, who serves as chairman of the Merrick School of Business Dean’s Advisory Council, sees parallels between Under Armour’s story and UB’s.
“UB is also scrappy, smart and nimble, offering an incredible education and unbelievable value for people who understand what they can get out of it,” he explains.
And, much like UB, Under Armour is expanding both in size and scope. “When our founder, Kevin Plank, is asked if he ever envisioned UA growing to be as large as it is, he says, ‘Well, I never thought it wouldn’t,’” Schwartz says. “We don’t know how big we’re going to get, so we focus on writing and telling our story one chapter at a time.”