How many women you have seen, who are known for their tech-savvyness? Probably not too many. Although it may sound stereotypical – but when it comes to a country like Bangladesh it is far-fetched reality that tech savvy female leading a corporation. Despite many universities offering courses in Information Communication Technology and other discipline within Science and Engineering field– not too many female graduates emerged as successful leaders within ICT sector. But the paradigm has started to shift which is ushered by few female leaders.
Today we will present you the story of Sonia Bashir Kabir – a name that Bangladeshi’s should pronounce with nothing but utter pride. To describe who Sonia is and what she has accomplished – it would probably take a biographer who can document her versatile life within pages of a thick book! To summarise very briefly, she is one of the pioneering women of Bangladesh who have glorified the nation in front of the whole world. Let’s have a sneak peak into Sonia’s education and professional accomplishments and other success stories.
A student of Viqarunnissa Noon School and College, Sonia showed the spark of academic excellence from the beginning. After completing her SSC and HSC brilliantly, Sonia set sail to USA with her husband being married quite early. After settling in the USA, she completed a Bachelor of Science from California State University-Hayward and MBA in Finance and Marketing from Santa Clara University. During this time, Sonia was exposed to Silicon Valley which was instrumental to her foundation as a tech-savvy, dynamic female professional. She had the rare opportunity to serve reputed brands like Sun Microsystems – Oracle and other start-ups in fin-tech industry. But after living 20 years in USA, Sonia decided to come back to Bangladesh to reunite with her family and also with the aspiration to do something better for the nation where her roots are.
Sonia’s professional affiliation has a long and exhaustive list. Currently she is the Managing Director for Microsoft Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and Laos. Besides, she is the Vice Chairperson of United Nations Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries. Sonia co-founded D Money (Fin-Tech) and Syntec (Health-Tech) in Bangladesh. Sonia is also a member of the Governing Board of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) in New Delhi, India. Sonia is the Founder President of Tie Dhaka Chapter and currently serves as its Advisor. TiE is a Silicon Valley based association which fosters entrepreneurship. Sonia also Co- Founded the 1st IT Association in Bangladesh for women called Bangladesh Women in IT (BWIT). Apart from all of these Sonia still makes time to remain on the advisory board of several private universities, startups and business accelerators in Dhaka.
In 2017 Sonia was recognized as 1 of the 10 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) pioneers by the United Nations Global Compact. In 2016, Sonia was 1 of the 10 recipients of Microsoft’s Prestigious Founders Award given by Bill Gates.
If the above accomplishments are not enough, then you would be also amazed to know that Sonia was a national athlete who has played both Volleyball & Cricket for Abahani & Bangladesh Women’s National team. Unbelievable right?
An utterly optimistic person, Sonia aspires to take Bangladesh forward by offering the benefit of IT to the people of all levels. That’s the truest success – as Sonia believes deep down inside. Sonia believes that younger generation has an infinite potential to catalyse their future and take the nation forward. She thinks that the following five principles can take them keep them ahead in the race.
Be very curious
Be courageous and have the mentality to take risk
Be positive and confident
Be compassionate and try to be of service for the have nots
Sonia is a pride of Bangladesh and an ocean of inspiration for Bangladeshi women! She epitomises knowledge, empowerment, excellence and sheer dedication which helped her to become one of the most competitive female leaders not only in Bangladesh but saying in the world would not be an overstatement! We hope that we can distill all the great lessons from Sonia’s life and career path. Watch the following clip on Sonia’s advice for the young generation (Source – Prothom Alo) –