Taking the Leap of Faith into Business

By Craig A. Ruark

Craig Ruark, Editor

It seems that many people enter college and may even finish their education with a plan to do one thing and end up taking a different path in life. That was the case for Mary Beth Hartleb, founder and CEO of PRISM Global Management Group, LLC.

Hartleb initially considered getting a degree in psychology with the aspiration to provide coaching and counseling. “In my last semester as an undergraduate, I took a course in human resources without knowing what it was. However, it really interested me, and it seemed like a great way to combine my education with business. I was working in retail when a position opened in HR, and I decided to do it, from there I kept moving into different and higher positions until it got me to where I am today,” she explained.

Hartlieb’s career spans thirty years in the human resources field working for Fortune 500 companies while developing human resource departments for smaller, entrepreneurial ventures. She is experienced in various industries including gaming, restaurant, association management, telecommunications, retail, broadcasting, manufacturing, engineering, and non-profits.

In 2003, Hartleb founded PRISM Global Management Group, LLC and on November 1st she celebrated her 15th year in business.

When asked about starting her business, she comments that it was, “Scary, I just jumped off the cliff. I think that fear holds a lot of people back, and yes, it’s frightening, but I also reflect back and realize that it was the best decision that I ever made.”

Hartleb didn’t have a client base when she started and stated that she spent nights and weekends trying to build the business. “I was very fortunate at that stage in my career that I was very involved with the Society for Human Resource Management, serving as the president of the local chapter for a few years and then the state council director, which provided me with connections at the corporate headquarters in Virginia. I knew a lot of people, and when I started mentioning to people that I was going to take the leap, I had a tremendous amount of support.”

While the connections Hartleb gained through the Society for Human Resource Management was a big help during the start-up period of her business, in the end, she still had to find clients, close the deal, and deliver on her promises.

“Networking and establishing your credibility as a subject matter expert is really key to my success,” said Hartleb. Today, her industry reputation and successes generate most of the new client business through word of mouth referrals.

Hartleb purposely built her business to expand and contract, and over the years the firm has had as many as 15 employees down to a handful. Currently, Hartleb has two local employees and an employee in Georgia, Florida, and Texas. Each of the employees, who are titled as consultants, manage their own client base, and Hartleb oversees the entire client list. “I also designed my business to where 95 percent of the work can be performed remotely. It allows me to live a lifestyle of my choosing, by that I mean a lot of flexibility. I’m an avid traveler and have visited over 60 countries, all seven continents, and I am still putting push pins on the map.”

Hartleb earned a J.D. from the William S. Boyd School of Law, a master’s degree in Human Resource Management and a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Business Administration. Her credentials include Senior Human Resource Professional (SPHR-CA) designation from the SHRM and Certified Professional Coach (CPC).

She, and her consultants, specialize in employee relations, benefits administration, training, legal compliance, PPACA, Title VII, ADEA, ADA, HR auditing, policy development, professional coaching, company handbooks, public speaking, business development, international business experience, risk management, safety, investigations, compensation, job descriptions, unemployment hearings, EEOC, DOL, EEO, AAP.

In addition to her passion for travel, Hartleb sits on several social and business boards, enjoys the arts and is a supporter of The Smith Center and other philanthropic causes. Though single, without children, Hartleb does have two Alaskan Klee Kai (miniature Huskies) dogs that she adores.

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