Working at Nelson for 26 of the 28 years she worked in the staffing industry, Kelley Hartman has a clear sense of what has kept her engaged.
“I was drawn to the staffing industry for the opportunity to change people’s lives by assisting them in finding new jobs,” she said. “I began my career placing candidates in temporary positions; this gave me an opportunity to forge strong partnerships with many Bay Area clients and candidates — many of which I still have today! I am very fortunate to have strong roots in the staffing field and even more fortunate to work with the most tenured top talent in the industry in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Napa and San Rafael.”
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR COMPANY
PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: 28 years in staffing, the past 26 years at Nelson working a variety of positions including staffing, recruiting, client relations, management and operations. Education: BA Psychology State University College at Buffalo, NY
I am extremely fortunate to work for Nelson, the largest independent staffing firm in California. When Gary Nelson started this business over 45 years ago, he raised the bar on providing excellent service to clients and candidates in the staffing industry.
I was drawn to the staffing industry for the opportunity to change people’s lives by assisting them in finding new jobs. I began my career placing candidates in temporary positions; this gave me an opportunity to forge strong partnerships with many Bay Area clients and candidates — many of which I still have today! I am very fortunate to have strong roots in the staffing field and even more fortunate to work with the most tenured top talent in the industry in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Napa and San Rafael.
MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT IN THE PAST YEAR OR SO
In 2015 I took on the executive role of leading Operations for all branches of Nelson. This position provided me the opportunity to launch a new division within Nelson aimed at providing training and sharing best practices with all staff employees across all business units and geographic locations.
Our goal is to streamline processes while instilling in all employees the “Nelson Way” – our culture of providing outstanding service to our clients and temporary employees and candidates and ensuring that each feels better about themselves with every Nelson encounter. It has been exciting seeing the accomplishments my team has achieved in one short year around this meaningful initiative.
WHAT IS THE ACHIEVEMENT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
Raising two amazing daughters to adulthood as a single mom while being able to thrive in my career at Nelson. This would never have been possible without the love and support of Gary and Marcia Nelson, and my entire Nelson family after the death of my husband when my daughters were only three and seven years old.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE TODAY?
Having the discipline to work at finding a true work/life balance is just as hard for me now as it was 26 years ago– there is always something more that needs to be done!
WORDS THAT BEST DESCRIBE YOU: Proud Mom and Grandma, goal-oriented, loyal, hard-working, friendly, funny, kind, and team-oriented
AS A SUCCESSFUL FEMALE PROFESSIONAL, WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST OBSTACLES YOU FACED AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
The biggest obstacle I faced was finding balance between my career and my personal life. Working to serve the needs of clients and candidates is not always an 8-5 job; it sometimes infringes on the time spent with family.
I was fortunate that the Nelsons were ahead of their time in creating a family-friendly work environment, which was not always the case in the 80s and 90s. I learned to focus during the day to get things done and carve out time to spend with my children on evenings and weekends. I feel very lucky that the Nelsons empowered me to be both a mother and also a business woman. I am thankful for the time I was able to spend with my children and what I was able to offer them because of the family supportive culture at Nelson.
HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR PROFESSION WILL CHANGE IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?
In the next five years, I expect the staffing industry to grow and become an even greater extension of the workforce at companies throughout the U.S. and globally. This will lead to a continued demand for top talent in both temporary and direct hire positions.
I see technology continuing to increase in importance: candidates completing applications, accepting jobs and completing their timecards on mobile apps. There will be greater technology centered on reporting and more solutions for maintaining compliance with government requirements. There will be more independent contractors than ever and an increasing need to partner with our clients on 1099 compliance.
WHO WAS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MENTOR?
My parents were early mentors, instilling into me strong morals, compassion for others and a strong work ethic. During my career Craig Nelson, Nelson’s Chairman of the Board, has been a great mentor to me. He has taught me the importance of being authentic – believing in myself and being open to receiving and giving feedback while mentoring others. He has also led by example in encouraging me to stay positive when faced with a challenge and to have the confidence to develop and implement a solution.
Lastly he has helped me to understand that hard work is important, but laughing and having fun with your team are essential.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG WOMAN ENTERING YOUR PROFESSION OR THE WORK WORLD TODAY?
Staffing is an amazing career for a woman — or anyone — to enter into today. This meaningful profession allows you to make a positive impact on a person’s life through providing career advice, support and guidance and most importantly jobs!
You will build long-term relationships with many people including your candidates and clients. You have opportunities to network, be innovative and creative with problem-solving, and be on the cutting edge of current events as everything impacts employment. You also have the amazing opportunity to give back to the community. You learn to strategize and set goals for yourself and with your team.
There is lots of room for advancement. You have a team alongside you to support and partner with you, yet you alone are the one in charge of your own reputation and destiny.
Lastly, regardless of industry, I would share the following career advice with someone entering the workforce today: Making money is important but you have to wake up and go to work every day while balancing all other aspects of your life. The most important thing you can do for yourself is to choose a job you love and work hard at doing the best job you can do.
MOST ADMIRED BUSINESSPERSON OUTSIDE YOUR ORGANIZATION: Carlos, Willie and Sam Tamayo, of La Tortilla Factory. They run a successful family-owned business that has grown amazingly fast over the past 39 years. In addition to strong business performance, La Tortilla Factory is named a Best Place to Work in the North Bay year after year.
Carlos, Willie and Sam take the time to celebrate success with all of their employees and truly value them as an integral part of their business. They are talented, authentic and genuinely nice people who are huge believers in giving back to the community.
TYPICAL DAY AT THE OFFICE: One of the reasons I love the staffing business so much is that there are no “typical days.” Each day is different depending upon the needs of our clients, our candidates and our employees. My position incorporates a broad range of responsibilities but I am focused each day on helping my teams accomplish their goals.
BEST PLACE TO WORK OUTSIDE OF YOUR OFFICE: Taking conference calls while driving through the gorgeous vineyards in Napa Valley!
CURRENT READING: I love psychological thrillers and am currently reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.
MOST WANT TO MEET: I would love to meet Oprah Winfrey. She is a very inspirational woman and I admire her for being powerful and direct while also being compassionate. One of my favorite quotes by her is: “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”
SOCIAL MEDIA YOU MOST USE: Professionally, I use LinkedIn as my go-to recruiting tool. Personally, I use Facebook to keep in touch with my children and grandchildren and get updates on out-of-state relatives and friends.
STRESS-RELIEVERS: I listen to Bruce Springsteen on XM radio, and on particularly stressful days I listen to Bruce Springsteen music while eating a bag of Cheetos Puffs! I also always try to remember to breathe!
FAVORITE HOBBIES: Visiting my two grandsons in New York whenever possible, exploring wineries in Sonoma and Napa counties and walking my adorable shelties among the beautiful locations in Northern California, including Armstrong Woods and Spring Lake. I also love Pilates, movies and theater.