In Her Own Words: Jaleesa Hardy
March 12, 2024

With March being Women’s History Month, PAR is proud to spotlight female leaders within our organization. Throughout the month, we will share inspiring stories to recognize and celebrate the remarkable women who contribute to the success of PAR. 

Each of these profiles will explore the unique experiences and perspectives of our women leaders, shedding light on their paths to success. We will explore the challenges they've overcome, the lessons they've learned, and the impact they've had on our organization. 

This week, we are proud to present Jaleesa Hardy. Jaleesa is a business development specialist in PAR’s sales department. 

Share a brief overview of your professional journey and how you arrived at your current role. 

I started my professional career with hopes of landing a role with the Atlanta Falcons, (hence the master’s in sports administration) but that faded quickly during my quick stint interning in their Community Relations Department. It was fun, but I was NOT ready for those hours nor extensive travel. Soon after I found myself at small healthcare IT company where I started as an administrative assistant then moved to business development and soon after became the BD manager. I spent a total of 5 years there before heading into legal marketing/business development and worked at two different firms for a total of 6 years, where I met a lot of great people and learned a lot about myself! 

Who has been the most significant inspiration in your career? How did this person impact your leadership style and approach? 

I have two, and they both came from Smith, Gambrell and Russell, LLP. My mentor, Lee Watts, Chief Marketing Officer, who was also my manager at the firm, and the second was an attorney, Justice Leah Ward Sears, the first African-American female chief justice of a state Supreme Court in the United States. 

They both taught me to face challenges head on, understanding that most misunderstands come from a lack of communication and can typically be solved with a simple conversation. They’ve also taught me the importance of making a decision and standing on it, whether right or wrong…being confident in your decision requires accountability. 

Share a significant challenge you faced in your career and how you overcame it. 

I learned quickly that friends and business don’t mix (sometimes). While at the healthcare IT firm, my manager valued my opinion and judgment and he hired two of my friends. One friend excelled and moved up in the company and, well, the other did not! 

After I was promoted to business development manager, I managed them both. The friend who didn’t do so great thought that just because we’re friends she no longer had to work until she felt like it. That was the first time I had to put on my big girl undies on and put feelings to the side. It didn’t feel good. I’m usually the one who encourages those around me, but in this instance, it was going! Not to mention I was only 25, this was my first “real” job and my first managerial role as well. 

After several attempts of retraining, conversations about accountability, and warnings of reprimanding, I was left with no choice but to do what was required of me in the role I held, which was letting her go. I then understood relieving one of their duties to some may look like a step back, but inevitably holding on can only deter you from your true purpose. I ended up losing a “friend” but gained self-awareness and self-confidence and learned everything happens for a reason! 

How do you balance your professional and personal life? 

It’s something I’m still learning to do daily. With a husband, two small boys, work, and family obligations…it seems like there’s never enough time in day. But I’ve learned to be comfortable with every day looking different, some days it’s just need extra rest, somedays I get up extra early to workout/meditate/yoga, some days it’s playing outside with my boys or book club with my girlfriends, and other days it’s sitting in the sun for 10 minutes of complete silence. 

What passions or activities bring you joy and rejuvenate you outside of work? 

I love everything about personal finance and teaching the youth about personal finance, which is why a friend and I started ACTS Global, Inc. I view it as an essential skill because it touches every aspect of our lives. Many people don’t have the tools nor grow up learning about finances, but if they did, it could single-handedly change the trajectory of their lives and families. 


Catch up on previous profiles of Kristin Greco and Melissa Messer.