Guest Name, Mary Schaefer

Mary Schaefer
Mary Schaefer
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Independent Human Resources Professional

Mary started her career in HR on her family farm when she was about 14 years old. Her father was the lucky recipient of all kinds of unsolicited advice on labor relations, performance management, and talent development. Mary says she didn't know what HR was then, but looking back she realized she was developing the foundation for her approach today.

As a youngster she quickly realized that when she lagged, it affected how quickly the work got done, and how quickly employees would happily be on their ways home. Her impact on ROI was clear to her then. This understanding still serves her today.

In her corporate career Mary started out as a computer programmer. Computers were so new at work in the 80’s. She really liked helping people feel confident as quickly as possible, when they were worried about looking stupid or breaking the equipment. Mary decided the best place to help people this way was to go into human resources. Even before she got her first HR assignment she found people came to her for help with preparing for their performance appraisals, maneuvering office politics, navigating difficult conversations, or improving their chances of getting promoted.

Mary concluded her 20-year corporate career as an HR manager serving a constituency of over 550 employees. She keeps up with her former cohorts, and of course her clients help her keep her coaching and training grounded in the reality of the workplace. Mary is focused on making the most of what the human beings who happen to be employees can contribute to an organization through their energy and creativity, while at the same time meeting their specific needs for meaningful work.

Her clients include Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, non-profits and government agencies. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, a Master's in Human Resources and is certified as a human resources professional. Whether acting as a coach, trainer, facilitator, speaker or consultant, and HR professional, Mary helps you create a more productive and collaborative work environments through honest, direct interactions. This could involve planning for a tough conversation about work performance or strategizing on how to manage employees’ reaction to changes in their jobs.

Mary publishes on those topics and more at,, CIO Online, and other sites. She is a co-author of the book, "The Character-Based Leader.” In 2014 Mary presented the talks, “GPS Your Career: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Go” at the Inspiring Women in STEM Conference and also “Putting the Human Back into Human Resources,” at a TEDx event.

United States