Kellie Kwarteng is a passionate advocate dedicated to empowering women and diversifying the tech industry. With 20 years of experience in tech staffing, Kellie is focused on directly driving gender diversity. She is an inspirational leader and dedicated voice empowering the next generation of women in tech.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your current role.

I’m Kellie Kwarteng Founder and CEO of Halzak, a boutique recruitment firm connecting underrepresented talent with leading tech companies. I am also the Founder and Host of Elevate – Women in Tech, a podcast and community group spotlighting inspirational stories to galvanize female ambition in tech. In addition, I operate as a business coach to staffing companies.

Before Halzak Kellie was a UK Partner at SThree a global $billion STEM specialist staffing company where she set up and built their Public Sector division from the group up to the largest UK division for the group. She then went on to be Global Group President of a boutique tech staffing specialist where her focus was to support the company in its growth and operational processes.

Outside of work, I am a wife and mom of 2 to a daughter 12 and a son 9. My other guilty pleasure is playing and coaching girls Netball.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Honesty, not really. After university, my goal was to have a career in the London business world. I was introduced to tech recruitment at university. The merit-based fast pace and progression opportunities appealed to me, and I wanted to be part of it.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and how did you overcome them?

Tech recruitment was and still is very male-dominated, especially at the leadership level. I had to develop a thick skin to navigate the high-pressured sales environment as one of few women if I wanted to make this work as a path to Director was clear but highly demanding.

I was fortunate to have a male Sales Director who helped me realize my potential early on and supported me in understanding my goals and navigating my journey. His advice was to lean into my strengths and “become famous” for they stuck with me. Especially for being famous for something that my male counterparts did not have on their radar, as their focus was only on revenue. He showed me that revenue was key but running a business was essential.  He went on to be MD, then C-Suite and continued advocating for me throughout his journey.

What has been your most significant achievement to date?

Professionally building SThree UKs largest UK division and becoming Global President were achievements I am very proud of but my most significant has to be launching Halzak and Elevate – Women in Tech.

This was such a tough decision, I had a well-paid and secure high-profile corporate position, but something was missing, I was missing purpose. Having my own business that has no pressure on shareholders or owners whose focus is profit I can focus on making a difference.  For Halzak – Connecting underrepresented talent with leading tech companies and Elevate – Women in Tech – Elevating women and girls in tech – from the classroom to the boardroom.

What one thing do you believe has been a significant factor in your achieving success?

My husband’s unwavering support. He’s my No. 1 ally and gave me the confidence to believe in myself. After having our son (2nd child), he stepped back from his career to parent and take care of home life, enabling me to focus on building my career.

I truly am thankful for all his support through the highs and the lows along this journey we have been on. He has always believed in me from the early days starting as a trainee recruitment consultant to today as a co-founder standing alongside me as we build Halzak & Elevate – Women in Tech community.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality in tech, what would it be?

Turning talk into urgent action.

I would love to see more companies taking measurable and transparent action to expand access and opportunities for women in tech. There is certainly more awareness today about the lack of women in technical roles especially in leadership positions. Many companies say they value diversity. But too few are backing it up with demonstrable action.

I’d love to see companies take measurable action like setting specific hiring and promotion targets for women at all levels, reporting annually on progress and gaps, implementing equitable family leave and flexibility policies, training managers on mitigating bias, remaining open to remote or hybrid working practices and partnerships that reach women from overlooked talent pools.

It also requires representation at the top, so diversity is championed by leadership. Even basic actions like ensuring women are “in the room” for key decisions show it’s a priority.

If every company made a concerted effort to turn commitment into action with transparency and urgency, it would create enormous momentum. The more that makes meaningful progress, the more pressure mounts on others to follow.

If you could advise your younger self, what would it be?

Believe in yourself and find your tribe. Don’t fear speaking up confidently. Surround yourself with those who challenge and support you. Finally, remember it’s your journey!

What are your future aspirations?

I hope to continue elevating underrepresented talent within the tech sector. This will be through our recruitment business Halzak in its work with tech companies who are focused on moving the dial on diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

For Elevate – Women in Tech this will be focused on expanding our reach of the community, bringing more stories of amazing female trailblazers within the industry that support the current and future generations of women in tech. We are looking to add a mentoring program and live webinar sessions to offer further support to our community.

Finally, if I could accomplish one thing for the next generation, I want it to be helping create a future where women (my daughter) isn’t the “only one in the room”  and that Gender equity becomes an everyday reality.