Zebra's 50th anniversary logo: 50 years of innovating at the edge
By Jeff Schmitz | December 20, 2019

2019 Was “as Good as Gold”

A look back at the last year.

Reflection and resolution are two of the most commonly used words this time of year. We look back at the past 12 months, critically assess our successes and challenges and then resolve to make certain changes in the new year (or decade, as is the case this year).

We have a lot to celebrate this year at Zebra. It is truly phenomenal what our talented people have achieved, and I’m glad to see so many of them recognized by their peers and the broader industry throughout Q3 and Q4:

Of course, it’s always humbling when Zebra as a whole is recognized in the way we were this year:

However, our accomplishments aren’t solely defined by these awards (or the numerous accolades received in the first half of 2019.) Together with our partners, Zebras have helped thousands of customers increase their operational intelligence and capture a performance edge. We’ve made industry-changing technological advances as a result of our rigorous and collaborative research, design and engineering efforts. And we’ve changed the lives of millions of people within our communities.

We also welcomed new members into the Zebra family with the acquisition of Cortexica Vision Systems, Ltd., secured the largest order in Zebra’s 50-year history and watched Zebra’s stock price hit record highs on multiple occasions. (The first time was on April 24, as we blogged about here.) Just as exciting, we just learned that Zebra will be added to the S&P 500 on December 23.

We have more than 7,400 employees around the world working with our extended Zebra family members – partners, customers and technology solution collaborators – to make the impossible possible. They move mountains every day. So, what is impossible is properly recognizing the incredible strides that have been made over the last 365 days in 2,000 words or less.

It would take a book – more like a library of books – to properly document all of the life-changing milestones that we have achieved together and the significant marks that each Zebra family member has made on the world both personally and professionally in 2019.

Zebra has a peer recognition program here at Zebra called GEM (Going the Extra Mile), and I showcase the people who have received GEM points at each quarterly marketing town hall meeting. Last week, there were 217 names on that slide. We literally had to shrink the font size down to 7.5. These are just marketing team members too – and not single instances of recognition. Many of these Zebras had been applauded by their peers on multiple occasions in the last three months.

I call this out because it is the perfect time of year to remind ourselves that we are making a significant difference in someone’s life every day, whether we realize it or not. Even when we “fail” we succeed, to the benefit of ourselves and those around us. I can’t tell you how many times our team has been challenged to rethink our strategy or try a new approach to something in 2019. But we celebrated every opportunity to “try something different” as a win.


It is in the face of adversity that our strength, resilience and brilliance really shine. When we are challenged in life, we learn how to adapt, and that ultimately empowers us to achieve a better outcome – for ourselves, our customers, our partners and our communities.

So, amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I encourage you to pause and truly celebrate all that you have accomplished this year. (Even if it was just checking one thing off your to-do list each day.) Then, I challenge you to repeat this exercise every day thereafter. Consider it your New Year Resolution – or your resolution for the next decade.

Give thanks for the outcomes that may not have been what you originally expected or hoped and embrace the fact that there is a lesson to be learned and a success to be had from every “failure”.  Because I know that, if we had not been challenged in some way every day over the past 50 years, Zebra would not have as many incredible milestones big and small to celebrate during 2019 – our “golden anniversary.

Indeed, this year has been “as good as gold” and I can’t wait to see how many more incredible – and incredibly significant – milestones we cross in 2020.


Editor’s Note:

Subscribe to the Your Edge blog to stay connected to Zebra insider news throughout 2020. We’ll also share tips, tricks and learnings with you several times each week, as Jeff explains in this video.

Inside Zebra Nation,
Jeff Schmitz
Jeff Schmitz

Jeff Schmitz is the Chief Human Resources and Marketing Officer at Zebra Technologies. He is responsible for driving preference and demand for Zebra’s brand as a partner of choice among customers, and as an employer of choice among existing and prospective talent.  Jeff oversees both the traditional marketing and HR functions, as well as the company’s partner program, business market intelligence, philanthropy and volunteerism, and Inclusion & Diversity.

An engineer turned marketer, Jeff’s unique background in technology has helped him better optimize Zebra’s marketing strategy and sharpen the company’s corporate narrative, while his innate ability to build teams is advancing  Zebra’s talent strategy to recruit and retain employees. His passion for brand storytelling has allowed Zebra to better amplify the voice of its customers, partners and employees. 

As a leader, Jeff fosters team building and collaboration, and encourages fun in the workplace to ultimately help Zebras capture their performance edge.  He is committed to creating an environment where every employee can bring their authentic self to the workplace.

Jeff has served in executive leadership positions for more than 25 years, including at Spirent Communications, Visual Networks and Tellabs. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering / computer science from Marquette University and a master’s degree in computer science from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Named to Crain’s Chicago Business Notable Executives in Marketing, Jeff serves on the Forbes Communications Council and the Internet of Things Community, and is a regular contributor to trade publications, including DC Velocity. He regularly speaks about the importance of companies embracing digital technology to meet customer demands, and elevating employee experiences to remain competitive. 

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