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Gehl takes a classic, yet unconventional path

By: JESSICA STEPHEN//June 21, 2012//

Gehl takes a classic, yet unconventional path

By: JESSICA STEPHEN//June 21, 2012//

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Carol Gehl, Godfrey & Kahn SC

Law degree received from: University of Wisconsin Law School, 1987

Staff photo by Kevin Harnack

An undergraduate interest in the classics led Carol Gehl to a career in securities law.

“It’s not probably a typical path, but everybody gets there their own way,” said Gehl, a shareholder and team leader of the Securities Group with Godfrey & Kahn SC, Milwaukee.

A classics major, with a focus on Latin, Gehl realized she had few job options after graduation. As she contemplated law school, Gehl took a job as a broker’s assistant with Robert W. Baird.

It was there she discovered securities work, and there was no turning back.

Gehl enrolled in the University of Wisconsin Law School. She worked as a clerk in the Wisconsin Commissioner of Securities Office, now known as the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.

After graduation, she joined the Security and Exchange Commission’s Division of Investment Management in Washington.

“It was sort of like a medical residency,” Gehl said. “You don’t get paid very much, but you learn a lot.”

Gehl joined Godfrey & Kahn in 1992. Today, she leads a 10-person team that navigates the ever-changing landscape of investment management.

“The biggest hurdle is just keeping up with everything,” Gehl said. “They key is to have the right people around you.”

At the office, that means co-workers who share her command of mutual fund and public accounting regulations. At home, that means working with a nanny to coordinate everything from pediatrician appointments to Christmas presents.

“Women ask about the work-life balance. How do you juggle it?” said Gehl, whose two children now are teenagers. “I say, ‘Every morning is a balance. Every day is different. You just get through it.’”

It’s a spirit that resonates with the firm’s managing partner, Nicholas Wahl, he said, because Gehl not only balances work and motherhood but also community commitments.

“Carol emulates what it means to be a leader in the corporate arena,” he said, “consistently utilizing her leadership and influence to help community non-profit organizations.”

As board president of the First Stage Children’s Theater and, formerly, the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, Gehl said she turned her love of music into community service. Plus, the organization’s noon meetings give her a chance to take a breather.

“It’s actually nice to leave during the day,” Gehl said, “and do something completely different.”


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