VOL. 133 | NO. 33 | Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Success No Easy Road For Women In Business
By Don Wade
The inspiration was there early. It will seem strange at first, even Tannera George Gibson herself understands that. But all these years later, she can see the connection.
“I know this sounds silly, but it’s the honest-to-God’s truth,” she said. “When I went to school, I resented the structured classroom setting. From like the time I was 5, I resented how long the day was and I was like, `why can’t we just go outside and do this?’
“So my dream became to be appointed to the Supreme Court to shorten school days. Somehow, that really did influence me. I always wanted to practice law, even if it was for all the wrong reasons.”
She laughs as she tells this story on herself. At 39, she is a partner with Burch, Porter & Johnson PLLC in Downtown Memphis. She didn’t find her way to law school until she was in her late 20s, but once she did, it turned out to be a great decision.
Gibson, along with Dr. Marjorie Hass, Rhodes College president, and Dr. Susan Murrmann, co-founder of the McDonald Murrmann Center for Wellness and Health, will serve as panelists Feb. 22 at the Daily News Publishing Co. seminar, “Women & Business.”
The event will held at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and begins at 3:30 p.m., with a wine-and-cheese reception to follow. To register, go to seminars.memphisdailynews.com.
The panelists will discuss a range of topics, including the “glass ceiling” and other potential impediments to career advancement, raising a family, managing relationships while having a career, and the importance of having mentors and being a mentor.
On that last point, Gibson says there really weren’t female mentors readily available to her when she started her career. Her mentors were men: city attorney Bruce McMullen (she clerked in his firm’s office) and now also Les Jones, an attorney at Burch, Porter & Johnson.
“Without those two, I don’t know what direction my career would have taken,” she said.
Hass earned her Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Illinois. She recalls a graduate adviser having a huge impact.
“Dr. Tim McCarthy,” Hass said. “He had total confidence in my work. Philosophy is not a huggy, handholding field. He really took me seriously as a writer and a thinker. I was a young woman, newly married, pregnant … those are things that don’t necessarily scream `philosophy powerhouse.’”
Women & Business
What: Part of The Daily News Publishing Co. seminar series
When: 3:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 22
Where: Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
Panelists: Dr. Susan Murrmann, co-founder, McDonald Murrmann Center for Wellness and Health; Tannera Gibson, attorney with Burch, Porter & Johnson PLLC; and Dr. Marjorie Hass, president of Rhodes College
Contact: Natalie Chandler, firstname.lastname@example.org
Her husband, Lawrence Hass, also majored in philosophy and they were professors raising a young family. Their son, Cameron Hass, 28, recalls dinner conversations happened at a higher plane than what he heard at friends’ houses.
“I distinctly remember indecipherable names – Nietzsche, Plato, Socrates ... They didn’t come up all the time, but it was like normal conversation,” he said.
Gibson has three children and she says managing a family while having a career is challenging to say the least, adding that when the kids want something, “They always call for mom. I try to remind them that they have a dad.”
Another topic at the seminar will be the stress working women are under. Murrmann sees it in her patients.
“They’re juggling more roles, especially if they have kids,” she said. “Even if you don’t have kids – I don’t have kids – you’re still trying to juggle relationships.”
Over the years, Murrmann has tried to shift the focus of her medical practice to account for the ever-increasing stress that confronts her patients.
She says medicine is changing, with the focus too often shifting from the patient because reimbursements are going down and insurance companies, hospitals and doctors all are concerned about a shrinking pie.
“We’re all focused on disease states and surgeries or get this pill for that,” Murrmann said. “We should be looking to how the patient takes care of herself.
“I’d rather focus on my whole patient and prevent them from getting rather treating them for diabetes, or high blood pressure. And that’s important for women. I don’t just want to do pap smears, surgeries and deliver babies. I want to look at the whole patient. I’m studying for a fellowship now in metabolic and functional medicine, which gives me an opportunity to help my patients a lot more.”
Gibson says she tries to take care of herself – lawyers have plenty of stress, too – but that she also finds strength and support nearby.
“If it wasn’t for my family and my faith, and I know it sounds cliché, I truly could not do this,” she said.