Better Workplaces. Better World.

October 25, 2022
  • Bob Chapman
  • Bob Chapman
    CEO & Chairman of Barry-Wehmiller

Last week, I was honored to receive the Tharseō CEO of the Year Award by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Foundation.

SHRM is the world's largest HR professional society, representing more than 300,000 HR professionals across the globe, impacting 115 million workers and their families. The Tharseō (thar-seh'-ō)—derived from the Greek word for "courageous, confident and bold"—awards are given to those who demonstrate innovative and impactful business practices leading to better workplaces and a better world by serving as visionaries, innovators and change agents.


I first met SHRM’s president and CEO, Johnny Taylor Jr., during a virtual roundtable more than a year ago. We struck up a relationship and eventually invited Johnny and other SHRM leaders to our BW Papersystems Phillips, WI location to experience our culture of Truly Human Leadership firsthand. They were able to meet and talk to our team members and learn about their work and how our culture impacts their lives.

Bob and Cynthia Chapman with Johnny Taylor
Bob and Cynthia Chapman with Johnny Taylor Jr.

About the Tharseō CEO of the Year Award, Johnny said: "The Committee selected Bob unanimously for the CEO of the Year Award after considering some of the largest multinational companies on the globe because there was specific, tangible proof that the culture Bob envisioned and nurtured resulted in that rare business that has done well financially while also providing an amazing work experience for its employees. BW is an exemplar employer because of Bob’s unwavering commitment."

Although I am not necessarily a fan of the terms “human resource” and “management,” I do agree with SHRM’s tagline, which is very similar to ours at Barry-Wehmiller: BETTER WORKPLACES. BETTER WORLD.

Here is a video that a Barry-Wehmiller team member captured of my remarks:


I am very honored at all the recognitions Barry-Wehmiller has received as a company or I have received personally over the years. I was named the #3 CEO in the world in an Inc. magazine article and a Top 10 Social Capital CEO by the International Business Times. In 2019, I was honored to receive the Entrepreneur Award from Arch Grants, a St. Louis-based organization that helps small businesses as they are getting started. The St. Louis Business Journal once again named Barry-Wehmiller as one of the St. Louis region’s largest privately held companies, a recognition of our company’s growth and the success of our cultural and business model.

Beyond awards, I also consider invitations to present Barry-Wehmiller’s message of Truly Human Leadership as recognition. This year alone I have spoken to the United Nations PRME conference on transforming education, the China Organizational Evolution Forum, Brazil’s Virtuous Leadership Conference, Vizient CEO Network, and the Healthcare Burnout Symposium.

These recognitions are not about me personally, but they are a testament to the hard work of our team members in Barry-Wehmiller who perpetuate our culture through their actions and deeds, prove everyday that you can be a successful business and treat people well so that they have good relationships with their loved ones and friends and are good citizens of the world.

These recognitions also validate the importance of our message. For instance, having our effort recognized by the world’s most influential HR organization is profoundly meaningful. SHRM’s validation of our work to bring more human-centered leadership, not just to Barry-Wehmiller but to the world, helps us amplify that effort, allowing us to impact even more lives.

Bob and Cynthia Chapman with BW team members
Bob and Cynthia Chapman with BW team members

And that remains our goal, no matter what. To show the world that business can be a powerful force for good when we realize that the way we lead impacts the way people live and have the courage to care for those we lead.

Until our message is heard in every corner of every organization in the world, I cannot rest on laurels or recognitions. There is more work to do to build a better world. As always, I ask you join me to share our message in any way you can.


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