Gappers are passionate people. We are passionate about each other, our clients, our community, and are inspired by life! To explore more about what drives our team, resident hedgehog, Herbie, sat down with gappers in a series we like to call: Words with Herbs.


Sarah Swanson

How did you get to gap intelligence?

The journey that brought me to gap is a long one, but I will do my best to give the Readers Digest version here. My story spans 3 states, 5 cities and 5 jobs. The main catalyst that initiated a series of events to bring me here began at the University of Chicago while I was in grad school. After my first year of grad school I knew that I no longer wished to pursue my PhD and become a professor.

I applied for the Peace Corps but my placement fell through, then came a last minute crazy decision fueled by a desire for adventure to move to Los Angeles (with no job or place to live), finding a passion project, and teaching diving, working at a rock climbing gym and then finally leaving the OC bubble to pursue my life further south. I just needed something more.

I was applying to jobs like a madwoman for 3 weeks by the time I found the job posting for a research assistant at gap intelligence. I thought “hey, that sounds like something that could utilize my background in sociology!” I read the job description and felt that it seemed like a pretty good match and filled out an application. Although I found it a little odd at first, I did appreciate that the application asked about my top three values.

I was called in for an interview! The more I learned about the company and the position throughout the interview, the more excited I became. I had other interviews lined up, but none felt as good as my first interview with gap. A week went by before I had heard anything, and I was beginning to lose hope, but then I was called in for a second interview! Hope was restored.

The second interview was more intimidating, but I also learned more about the company and the more I learned, the more I liked. I walked out of that interview optimistic, with a dash of skepticism. Later that evening, I received the best news I had received in years and I was offered the job.

After my journey across the country and different career paths, I finally feel for the first time in three years that I am exactly where I want to be because I am doing fulfilling work at a rewarding company.

That is the abbreviated story of how I ended up in San Diego, working at gap intelligence.

Sarah and Bryce the dog

What values lead you and why?

Integrity is a value that I hold in high esteem and I think it lends well to all of gap’s values. I think integrity is taking ownership of your work and understanding how your actions affect others. Integrity for me is also intimately linked to ethics and morals, the compass that drives my every action. This is what leads me because I feel that any decision made based on integrity, is one that contributes positively to the world, ultimately making it a better place.

What skills are you bringing to gap and what skills are you excited to learn?

A strong skill that I bring to gap (and is very fitting for my role as an analyst) is my natural ability for analytical thinking. I have an incredible knack for picking up little tidbits of information from various inputs, synthesizing them together and producing a thoughtful thorough analysis of any given situation. The way that my brain naturally works lends itself perfectly to working as an analyst.

I am excited to learn more technical skills within excel, the more I learn about the program, the more I am impressed with what it can do. I have been learning all sorts of skills for the last 4 months here, but there is still a lot more to go and am excited to see how technical skills in excel can help me leverage my naturally analytical mind!

If you could have any superpower, what would it be, why, and what would you do with it?

If I could have one superpower it would be the power of invisibility. With knowledge comes power, and the greatest knowledge comes from listening when no one knows you are there. Through invisibility I can come as close as possible to observing absolute truth.

What’s the quirkiest thing about you that you’re willing to admit?

I am a huge Game of Thrones fan,to the utmost nerdery level. I have read all the books multiple times, read the backstory, study the maps just for fun, and have a philosophical theory of why Game of Thrones has become the phenomena that it has, and why I believe it is one of the most influential book series of all time. Ask me about it :-)

What’s your favorite thing to do in San Diego and why?

I have two favorite things to do in San Diego: take my dog to the dog beach, and wander around Balboa Park. I love that San Diego is dog friendly since my dog Bryce is my best friend, I like to take him with me as often as I can.

If you were on a desert island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?

If I were stranded on a desert island and could only bring three things I would bring a Leatherman for tools, my dog for company, and a desalination device to make drinkable water from the salty ocean.

Bryce the dog