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An Interview With Jeff Marowits, President of Keystone Strategy

Jeff Marowits

Ivy Exec is committed to making it easier for job seekers to explore their options, and find great places to work. As part of this effort, we sat down with Jeff Marowits, the President of top consulting firm Keystone Strategy. We discussed the culture and future of Keystone Strategy as well as his insights into consulting, business, and AI. Read on to learn more about Keystone Strategy and see if they might be a good fit for your career goals.

Can you please provide a brief overview of Keystone Strategy to introduce our readers to the firm?

Our firm is an innovative strategy and economics consulting firm delivering transformative ideas and uncommon service to global brands on leading-edge challenges related to technology and business model innovation. For the last 20 years, we have become one of the most sought-after consultancies serving the ever-increasing crossroads of economics, computer science and management science.  The results are bold strategies that have a far-reaching impact on business, consumers, and public policy.

What is Keystone’s relationship to academia and industry thought leaders?

We partner with the world’s leading academic and industry experts to harness transformative ideas and expertise to help shape our client strategies and apply a deeper level of experience since our early days as a firm.  These partnerships are the heart of our strategic efforts. We pair with thought leaders from Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Wharton and other top universities to name a few. This collaborative approach informs all of our work on billion-dollar business strategy questions as well as litigation and regulatory-related controversies.

How does Keystone Strategy source experts to help inform their strategy?

Keystone Strategy employees collaborate

We have focused our expert partnerships on the new wave of top-flight academics and industry experts at the intersection of economics, computer science and management science.  Their experience and particularly their cutting-edge research (often in partnership with Keystone) helps us create a continuous stream of transformative ideas at scale across all of our client engagements which range from work with Microsoft, Facebook and Oracle to digital healthcare where we have worked with Johnson & Johnson, Novartis and Roche.

What makes Keystone’s academic approach unique compared to other consulting firms?

Our approach is unique in many dimensions.  First, we blend the use of academic and industry experts in our strategic and litigation-related consulting with each practice informing the other.  Second, we have developed industry-leading technical capabilities in our KATS (Keystone Advanced Technology Services) team of computer scientists, which we integrate into our development of strategic recommendations.  Finally, we bring the newest theories related to platform economics and machine learning to each of our engagements – guiding the way we work as well as our transformative ideas

Several of the experts who partner with Keystone Strategy have new books—The Ethical Algorithm (Oct 2019) and Competing in the Age of AI (Jan 2020). To what extent do these publications relate to ongoing work at the firm? Can you please elaborate on the premises behind these books?

These books capture the concepts and examples of the work we’ve been doing for more than a decade across the tech, consumer goods and antitrust landscapes.  In Competing in the Age of AI, the authors provide a clear framework for businesses in transforming their operating model and business strategy. Marco Iansiti and Karim R. Lakhani show how reinventing the firm around data, analytics, and AI removes traditional constraints on scale, scope, and learning that have restricted business growth for hundreds of years. From Airbnb to Ant Financial, Microsoft to Amazon, research shows how AI-driven processes are vastly more scalable than traditional processes, allow massive scope increase, enable companies to straddle industry boundaries, and create powerful opportunities for learning–to drive ever more accurate, complex, and sophisticated predictions. At the same time, AI-driven companies also define a new range of challenges, from privacy to cybersecurity, and from algorithmic transparency to bias.

The Ethical Algorithm by Michael Kearns and Aaron Roth is equally as relevant to our work. Here the authors cover the history and power of AI over the course of a generation. We see algorithms go from mathematical abstractions to powerful mediators of daily life. And while algorithms have made our lives more efficient, more entertaining, and, sometimes, better informed the more complex algorithms are increasingly violating the basic rights of individual citizens.

Keystone Strategy takes on accounts from a variety of backgrounds, tackling projects from cloud computing to supply chain management and drug development. Can you please explain a little bit more about Keystone’s approach to digital transformation?

Our diverse teams are purpose-built to leverage a triad of skills including business, technology, and economics.  This triad sets our work apart and offers us a unique vantage to analyze and understand the complex ecosystems our clients face as well as provide us an edge to develop bold strategies that have a far-reaching impact on business, consumers, and public policy.  We often note that working at Keystone means you don’t work on one global brand but rather on dozens such as Snapchat, YETI, the Department of Justice and Intel. Our departments include:

  • Management Science (MBAs from leading business schools)
  • Economics (our in-house team of Ph.D. economists)
  • Technology (Technical groups: Keystone Labs, Keystone Advanced Technology Services)

What advice do you have for business owners today?

It is a trope at this point, but it is also true that we are facing the most unpredictable and challenging business environment of our lifetimes.  We do not anticipate that changing soon or going back to “normal” post-COVID-19. Rather, the large-scale shifts to a more technology-driven economy, powered by AI, will be accelerated by the current crisis.  As such, it is critical that all Keystone Strategy employees work togetherbusiness owners embrace a technology-based strategy informed by new business models, particularly those related to platform economics.  Firms must couple this technology strategy with a human one – leading their teams through their own individual challenges and providing mindful and values-driven ballast through this storm.

What advice do you have for anyone interested in partnering with Keystone Strategy as a consultant? What about as a client?

We have always been a firm with an open platform.  We love to partner with new and emerging leaders.  And we love to take on new client challenges.  If you are looking for a position, connect with us at https://bit.ly/2Ztae20.  For any partnership opportunities, reach out directly to myself, Jeff Marowits, Keystone’s President.

What is it like working at Keystone Strategy?

We thrive off of our diverse teams.  We are entrepreneurial, fast-paced, evolving and collaborative.  Our focus on cutting edge technology and the law’s application to ever-relevant pieces such as antitrust, intellectual property and privacy evolve year-over-year.  There is never a ‘repeat’ project because of the nature of our work.

What’s on the horizon in the realm of digital transformation?

COVID-19 is accelerating the pace of change – for technology companies and those that now realize they must become Keystone Strategy employees in a discussiontechnology companies immediately. The pace of digital transformation has exploded and the very nature of work is changing almost daily. We are, like most people these days, in awe of the rapid change but we also know a solid foundation to keep and maintain digital transformation for industries will be critical for companies to thrive now and post-COVID-19.

Is there anything else we haven’t covered yet that you want to address in this interview?

Our teams and the colleagues that drive to transformative ideas are exceptional in my experience.  We partner with academic leaders whose knowledge offers deep insights but we also leverage the skills of our entire team for our clients.  From our associates who we hand select for their core skills, backgrounds and curiosity to our leadership team who have been guiding Fortune 50 tech companies for decades.  It’s the people at Keystone that make the place such a special place to work and grow one’s career.

Do you find that each regional office handles different types of consulting work?

Our offices are equally partnering with our clients – no one office brings a particular skill to bear rather our expertise is distributed across offices and teams. The advantage – and especially as we are seeing with COVID-19 – is that our teams function as a whole v as siloed entities. This distributed expertise is one of our greatest core strengths as a firm.

What are the most pressing technological challenges facing today’s corporations?

The Keystone team continues to lead global discussions on the future state of business, healthcare and public policy and the implications of AI implementation, digital transformation, antitrust matters – all of which are conversations that continue to grow more complicated and important as more companies adopt emerging technologies.  We are excited about our growing team and the challenges we are and will take on.  More importantly, we’ve built a solid foundation that will allow us to thrive in these arenas.

*All photos provided by Keystone Strategy


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About the Author

As a strategy and economics consulting firm, Keystone takes on some of the most pressing challenges in technology, economics, and business. To deliver our transformative ideas, we carefully nurture a culture that emphasizes smart risk-taking, genuine insight and a structured way of thinking.