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When R. Michael Gill was chosen by Gov. Larry Hogan to lead the Maryland Department of Commerce as its first secretary in 2014, he had already achieved success as an entrepreneur, investment banker and technology executive.

Throughout his five years as secretary, he helped lead the department through an agency transition including additional customer outreach efforts and increasing the size of the business development team. When his successor Kelly Schulz stepped down to run for governor, Hogan reappointed Gill to the role in December 2021.

What’s the most important thing you do in your job?

At Maryland Commerce, the most important thing that we do is to help to ensure our business community is successful in sustaining and growing their companies. Going back to 2015, we’ve made it a priority to create a culture of “yes” and through effective use of branding that Maryland is Open for Business, we’ve changed the perception of Maryland to one of the most friendly and supportive states for business.

Who was your most significant mentor(s) and what did you learn?

I had two very significant mentors in my life, each teaching me different critical skills.

The first is the late Ken Miller, branch manager of IBM Baltimore in the 1970s and 1980s. He was incredibly professional, a great listener and set high standards. He also had a level of integrity that was world class and had a competitive streak as well. He was the epitome of a team player in the way he approached everything at IBM.

Another key mentor is Frank Kelly, who has been a friend for more than 40 years. Frank was one of the most highly regarded members of the state senate during his time in office and has a deep commitment to his community and his family. He exemplifies the qualities I admire most – he has outstanding people skills, is an eternal optimist and is guided by his unwavering faith.