Mary Gehr: An Embodiment of Empathetic Leadership

Mary Gehr | Founder & Chief Talent Officer | Talent Platform Solutions
Mary Gehr, Founder & Chief Talent Officer, Talent Platform Solutions

If Mary Gehr, the Founder and Chief Talent Officer of Talent Platform Solutions possesses an untapped personal or business strength, good luck finding it. The confident energy she exudes screams overachiever (my word, not hers). Yet I can’t help but think that as a business leader in a “most admired” list, she’s uncharacteristically …kind.

Leadership prowess takes time, and Mary’s history reveals “methodical planning meets divine intervention”. Mary’s career and education in sales and marketing began in her early 20s with various mid to senior level leadership roles—and sound business leadership decisions such as earning certifications as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt as well as her CAPM (Certified Associate Project Management). Before and since she unleashed her talent solutions expertise by founding Talent Platform Solutions in 2006, she also gained respect as a noteworthy public speaker.

Her current “most” status, Mary clarifies, reflects less achievement and more motivation. “I noticed that critical needs in talent acquisition and talent management remained unmet on so many levels,” she says candidly. “And I realized I had more power to influence the business climate if I were spearheading the operation.”

Encouraging Diverse Team Culture

Cue the “You can lead a horse to water” cliché. Ironically, the initial obstacles Mary faced at her company’s inception 15 years ago haven’t been completely eradicated. “I still come across leaders who demonstrate gender, age, cultural bias, and inequality in the workplace, overall.” She adds, though, that these issues have seen moderate improvement.

Asked if she considers herself a moral seeker of justice, Mary lets out a spontaneous, humble laugh. “TPS does advocate tirelessly to spread values of equity throughout the business environment. But it’s more than just a constitutional or legal argument,” she explains. “It’s about the magic that happens when a diverse team contributes unique perspectives and areas of knowledge…” She pauses, searching for the words to do the ideal justice. “Find a truly cohesive workplace that embraces common ground, and you will find employees empowered to innovate, collaborate, and respect.”

An Optimistic Approach

On to the next challenge: COVID-19. Most of us feel overwhelmed—but not Mary. Why would she? A leadership model for this challenging era, TPS has helped displaced employees and decimated businesses navigate unchartered obstacles faced worldwide due to COVID-19. For optimists such as Mary, the glass remains half full.

She quickly points out that, despite the upheaval this pandemic has caused, global and small businesses alike find themselves in the market for high-quality talent. The low-unemployment culture, candidate-driven market pre-COVID-19,” says Mary as she casually reflects,“has shifted to an abundant pool of talent options.”

With unemployment numbers staggeringly high and businesses motivated to charge forward, TPS seems created for just this situation: pairing associates with businesses in ways that ensure compatibility and productivity. With her confident grin, I cross off my next question entirely. Mary and TPS WILL prove major players in this post-pandemic epic rebuild.

Being a Bright Light

“It’s all about the power of choice,” says Mary, uninterested in wasting even a moment of my time to meandering. Mary’s defining characteristic may be JUST this: She is NOT a leader to inadvertently miss one opportunity. SO many execs say what they know you want them to say: “It’s all about taking each business down a healthy path; each leg of the journey must nurture the body, mind, and spirit.” Mary truly feels it—which is altogether different.

Of course, leading the business culture and the souls whose peace of mind counts on equity requires forward-thinking, not lip service (think families and legacies). Mary’s forte has always been taming human bias one step at a time…literally teasing it away from its evolutionary origins. It takes steady, objective focus. It takes an intense passion for humanity. And it takes a deep spiritual understanding of equality as a concept.

Perhaps her absolute clarity can (should) be attributed to her “primary influencer” –God.

Even more inspiring is that she passes this on—to her community as well as the Next Gen of Female Career Woman. There’s literally no place this leader would rather be than somewhere that allows her access to a door for change…a business, for instance, where she might champion critical values for success–equity, inclusion, and shared as well as diverse cultural strengths. Mary’s vision remains resolute: to help people and businesses define, attain, contribute the most they have to offer in the most value-rich setting.

“It’s not rocket science” she smiles, rolling her eyes at her own cliché. “Let us create a positive work culture and a rich sense of community. Let us champion the empowerment of women, let me share with these rising stars and values-conscious companies the timeless guiding forces that I too have drawn from for strength.”

As long as humanity evolves (or devolves), we can only hope to find inspiring voices willing to lift us up and show us new paths. Mary—TPS—may be that rare bright light that combines knowledge, expertise, genuine warmth, and energetic determinism—they represent the leadership of the future.