Sophia Bekele Honored with Illustrious Awards Across Multiple Continents
July 14, 2021
Earlier in June, the Silicon Valley Business Journal released a list of 100 Women of Influence, an annual list of area women leaders who are “doing extraordinary things in an extraordinary time”. Among the honorees is Sophia Bekele, CBSegroup
The award ceremony was held virtually on June 30, and we have shared with you below Sophia’s video acceptance speech.
The Women of Influence award “recognizes established business leaders who have accomplished specific achievements in the business world in this innovation region — women with a strong record of innovation in their fields, outstanding performance in their businesses, and a clear track record of meaningful community involvement — women from every industry and profession who have made a difference in their communities blazed a trail for the rest of us, and are leaving a mark in Silicon Valley.”
Our CEO, Sophia Bekele is just that woman we know and admire that have made new tracks through the many wildernesses.
During an interview with the Editor for the Silicon Valley Business Journal, Sophia talked about how the pandemic changed her outlook on life and work, and her strategy on getting her business back to normal, what she would want to accomplish in next years, and the biggest challenge facing women leaders. She also shared about her hobbies, favorite pop culture, role model, and the best advice she has ever received – that was from her father – “Great lessons are learned when the stakes are high”.
Below is the excerpt from the interview. To read the full online version click here:
Commenting on changes from the pandemic – Sophia said “Our digital adaption in all areas of our businesses leapfrogged to five years in a span of a few months. It allowed great opportunities for creative disruption and accelerated a big shift to remote work and virtual meetings. It also forced us into rapid decision-making, with very dynamic talent reallocation.
The workforce and leadership had to be flexible and adaptable and learn new skills, and we had to accommodate that shift as we reimagine the new normal. We changed vertical leadership to lateral by developing shared core values and goals across key areas of our business model, replacing our single corporate mission statement.”
She went on to say That the pandemic was a great accelerant for developing mindful habits from healthy eating, managing mental and physical stress, and financial insecurity.
Asked what strategy she would have to get the business back to normal Sophia said “Reimagination through digitization. After the downturn, we all have an opportunity for a reset for growth for the next normal — both for business and industry.”
Looking forward to her favored accomplishments for next year – “Learn how to make a perfect martini and publish my book on the most amazing journey of my global escapades!”
Sophia noted some good advice she had received – “Sometimes you need to lose yourself to find yourself” from her older sister; and “Great lessons are learned when the stakes are high” from her father.
On female leadership challenges, she explained “That we don’t have a playbook for female leadership, and therefore need to reconstruct it! We were all taught a masculine model of leadership and everyone expects us to use that. Also, how to use our sisterhood to our advantage.”
Sophia signaled out to one woman she admired Madam C.J. Walker — she has carved the path for women entrepreneurs.
Sophia said it may surprise people that she believes her power of deduction is uncanny and gives her superpowers.
She went on to describe a time in her work that gave her pride as the moment how, and when she recognized she had impacted millions of lives across the world with her work in technological, legal, and policy initiatives that set precedents in the Internet and tech industry, plus financially empowering thousands of women in Africa through a seed-fund award program she initiated to increase their digital opportunities in tech-related entrepreneurship, training, and leadership roles.
At a personal level, Sophia described a typical work week – “An intense and focused 27 hours a week. I believe in work-life balance. It gives me the clarity of thinking I need to be creative. At the same time, I enjoy delegating a lot to my staff, as I get the pleasure of building their personal capacity in their various roles.”
Relaxing after work – Yoga, a glass of wine, and Netflix.
Looking back to her first job Sophia indicated it was as a rookie tech auditor at Bank of America, a company she admires and which helped her stand on her own two feet.
Finally, Sophia described some new discoveries during the pandemic – Binge-watching “Narcos” movies on Netflix and learning war strategies, the 2020 U.S. election which has turned to drama, endlessly scrolling on Instagram and TikTok, and inventing my own pop-culture on my lifestyle Instagram account to keep my friends and followers entertained and informed.
2021 CEO Today Features and Honors
Sophia Bekele of DotConnectAfrica for her
exceptional business leadership and growth.
The CEO Africa Award Winners Edition is dedicated to
recognizing strong, innovative, and most successful leaders in Africa,
and the companies they stand behind —
As the nation slowly approaches an exit from more than a year of uncertainly, these individuals shine as examples of excellence in their respective sectors,
even when faced with unprecedented challenges.
– CEO Today