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  • Writer's pictureIndependent Forums

Speaker Interview: Kel Hartman

Get to know the thought leaders sharing their insight at the Future Work Scenarios event (11 May, London) in our dedicated speaker interview series.


Independent Forums: What are you currently reading?

Kel Hartman: The Uncaged Sky – a true story of Dr. Kylie Moore-Gilbert’s fight to survive 804 days imprisoned in Iran.

Kylie was a British-Australian and was arrested at Tehran Airport by Iran’s feared Islamic Revolutionary Guards. Convicted of espionage in a shadowy trial presided over by Iran’s most notorious judge, Dr. Moore-Gilbert was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Incarcerated in Tehran’s Evin and Qarchak prisons for 804 days, this is the full and gripping account of her harrowing ordeal. Held in a filthy solitary confinement cell for months, and subjected to relentless interrogation, Kylie was pushed to the limits of her endurance by extreme physical and psychological deprivation.

Independent Forums: What is your favourite way to recharge? Kel Hartman: I love boxing, hiking in nature, swimming in the ocean, and travelling – coming up to 100 countries. I also love theatre and long hot bubble baths before bed.

Independent Forums: Who or what has inspired you this year and why? Kel Hartman: Those women in Iran who are brave enough to fight for their rights and risk their lives for freedom. Also, people who are changing careers and taking risks to have more fulfilling lives.

Independent Forums: What is your biggest source of motivation? Kel Hartman: Making a difference and impact in the lives of others

Independent Forums: How would you describe a typical day? Kel Hartman: I have no typical day, as I don’t even know where I’ll be. I decide sometimes a day before that I want to go somewhere – I book a flight and go. This year a stopover in Thailand transpired to almost a two-month stay. I always speak to my mum in Australia – do Pilates, boxing, walk, and then with work – it could be interviewing, coaching, facilitation, mediating, meetings about anything – and then connecting with new people – on the tube, on LinkedIn, or with someone in a store that serves or helps me.

Independent Forums: What’s one thing about you that most people don’t know? Kel Hartman: I have both an Australian and Polish Passport. My grandparents were Holocaust survivors. I feel so much gratitude for this opportunity as they lost all their family in Europe, they perished in the war (parents and siblings) and were unable to stay here and experience the beauty I do.

Independent Forums: What’s one thing about your organisation that you wish more people knew? Kel Hartman: I founded my own company to encourage organisations and leaders to inspire Real Purpose, Real Transparency, Real Conversations, Real Ownership & Real Connections as I don’t think there is enough of this happening.

Independent Forums: How has your perception about the world of work evolved over the past three years? Kel Hartman: Prior to COVID I never worked from home. In fact, I use to catch a red-eye flight and go straight to the office. I also use to work around the clock. I thought it was normal – taking meetings during my holidays, waking up and doing calls at 3am, going to the bathroom in the middle of the night and checking my phone and answering emails. I was constantly on, and it was so unhealthy, especially for someone who was a huge advocate for mental health. I was helping and available for everyone and not taking care of me. I was stressed and burnt out after many years of this lifestyle – flying every 10 days, working around the clock. During COVID I managed to escape most of the lockdowns and lived in the Caribbean. I deliberately did not purchase a local SIM – so I was only ON when I was at the hotel. So, during the weekends I was hiking in nature exploring with no access to Wi-Fi. In the evenings, I went out walking too so was not available – it changed my life. I realised I can’t help others if I was ill. So, for the past three years I’ve worked remotely. I find opportunities to connect in person as that is still very important. I work to LIVE not the other way around. You can give your all without having to be on 24/7. And my creativity and productivity increases when I am not distracted, having to commute and being able to work from anywhere in the world.

Independent Forums: Where do you see the biggest opportunity to transform the way we work? Kel Hartman: Flexibility and Options – There is no one size fits all when it comes to work – from learning styles, the way we process information, the way we collaborate, the way we work, how we are motivated, wellbeing support – so don’t provide a cookie cutter approach to work – be more inclusive in your approach.

Independent Forums: What are you most looking forward to at Future Work Scenarios 2023? Kel Hartman: Listening and learning from everyone – we are constantly evolving and developing and being inspired by others.


Kel Hartman will join a panel exploring the future of culture at FWS23 on 11 May in London.

Register here to join the conversation.


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