Women in Tech: Ali Hackett
Tell us a little bit about yourself Ali.
My name is Ali Hackett and I am co-founder of the recruitment technology business Meet & Engage. I am 41 years old, have two children (age 16 and 11) and am a single parent. In terms of work, I am so excited about the problems our technology solves – we have a real-time candidate/employer chat technology that helps candidates and employers stay in touch through the recruitment process. When I had my son Barney 16 years ago, there were few opportunities for women in senior roles to work part-time so this is something I wanted to build into our business model.
What were you doing before you decided to create Meet and Engage?
Before M&E I worked in in-house recruiting in financial services and the public sector – quite diverse! This enabled me to understand many of challenges that our clients face. Before that I worked in a consultancy environment, working with businesses to understand what differentiated them as an employer and how to market that to the right audience.
Getting involved in Tech is still a new thing for women, what was the motivation for you?
To me, this is less about getting involved in tech and more about solving problems. You can deliver a solution in many ways. I was also lucky enough to have a technical co-founder who instantly understood the market and the challenges and is inspiring to work with. Apart from being creatively motivating, he is also a staunch feminist which is fantastic.
How have you found your journey so far and what has been your greatest accomplishment?
I have loved the journey so far! A challenge for us has been around bringing a new concept to market. Digital conversation (or chat) is accepted in the consumer space and by consumers.
You lose your mobile phone so chat online to resolve the situation; its quick, easy and accessible. This is still new for the recruitment industry where traditional automated processes prevail, so much of our work is about educating clients around the concept of this type of engagement. It’s a technology solution but driven by humans. I think our greatest accomplishment so far was winning the Best Innovation award in 2016 at the National Online Recruitment awards.
What has been the most challenging thing so far?
Starting a business is challenging, you have to quickly become an expect in all sorts of things – managing employees, finances, a new business pipeline, product development, marketing. The most challenging thing so far has been remaining focused on the most important things to drive the business forward and not to be distracted.
Do you think more women should get involved in Tech and why?
Diversity is crucial today and diverse businesses have been proven time and again to be the most successful; having a melting pot of ideas means a better product to take to market. I think women should absolutely get involved in this sector; it’s fast moving and exciting. Tech businesses have to be flexible and nimble to respond to the speed of the market and, in my experience, this kind of culture is appealing to a widening demographic.
What advice would you give to young female entrepreneurs who are stuck on an idea?
If you have an idea you need to explore it! Speak to people about it, ask for their views and ideas, find experts to connect with and ask for their advice. Test your idea by asking your network for support. Become an expert in your sector, research your competitors and be clear about the problems you’re solving with your idea. Be vigilant and persistent, if you really believe in your idea you owe it to yourself to evaluate properly whether it will work.
What does it mean to be a female tech entrepreneur?
I have observed that it’s a male-dominated industry. That said, it’s an inclusive industry and I’ve always had a good relationship with my peers in other tech businesses in the sector. I have always been a fan of networking and collaborating and I will always go out of my way to support other women in my network.
Overview of how Meet and Engage works:
Meet and Engage is an award-winning candidate/employer real-time chat technology that helps to create a great candidate experience. Organisations use the technology to run group chats, 121 private chats, to share relevant content and to keep candidates connected with the business as they move through the recruitment process. Businesses can capture candidate details, create candidate experience surveys and other detailed MI.
How to find Meet and Engage: