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An Interview with our CEO, Sophie Mason

Matthew Pierce: In the heart of the Welsh tech ecosystem, a remarkable woman is spearheading a movement that transcends traditional boundaries, challenging the status quo, and reshaping the landscape of workplace inclusion. Sophie Mason, the visionary entrepreneur behind the groundbreaking Thinkedi App, has not only identified a pervasive issue but has also developed a comprehensive solution that promises both financial and social returns on investment. 

Thinkedi, under Sophie's leadership, addresses the staggering £127 billion annual cost of discrimination to the UK economy with a three-pronged approach. The 'Accommodations Manager,' 'Inclusion tool,' and 'Diversity Dashboard' form a suite of tools designed to reduce discrimination, tackle associated challenges, and contribute to eco-sustainability. 

Sophie's personal journey as a disabled and neurodiverse entrepreneur adds a unique touch to Thinkedi's mission, aligning with the company's commitment to breaking barriers and fostering success for all. Beyond being a business, Thinkedi represents a movement, appealing to socially conscious investors and organizations. 


Sophie Mason (CEO of Thinkedi) : Wow. What an intro! I hope I can live up to it. It’s amazing to look back over the last year. I can’t actually believe how far Thinkedi has come. 

Matthew Pierce: I also hear congratulations are in order as you've been voted a finalist for Technology Connected's Best Tech Leader and Thinkedi is a finalist for the Sir Michael Moritz Prize for best Start-Up.

Sophie Mason (CEO of Thinkedi) : I know! We're all over the moon. We've worked so hard and the awards ceremony will be a great place for us to celebrate the success of our first year.


Matthew Pierce: What do you think the biggest contributor to this has been to your success? 


Sophie Mason (CEO of Thinkedi) : Definitely the people around me. My husband and 3 children are my biggest chearleaders. You know, we’ll be sat around the dinner table and they’ll ask “How’s Thinkedi going mum?” and my heart melts because I see how proud they are of me.  

I’ve also merged businesses with Merryn Roberts-Ward, a Global HR Guru, and formed THINKGlobalHR. Merryn’s experience in the corporate world has been invaluable and she has become much like a sister to me, our children raised together like cousins. 

And I couldn’t not have done this without my business support manager, Jess, who keeps me organised and in check with my wellbeing, ensuring I pace myself with my conditions. We have such a laugh too. We joke that our morning sing songs will one day become a Thinkedi Musical. I think it’s important to not take yourself too seriously. 

And without a doubt, a fundamental contributor has been the Welsh Tech and Cyber ecosystem. Thinkedi has been welcomed into the Welsh Innovation Centre for Excellence’s co-lab working space, support programmes and networking. The same for FinTech Wales, where I’m now an advisory panel member. We also work closely with the Cyber Innovation Hub and Women in Cyber Wales driving diversity in tech and cyber, including developing opportunities for neurodivergent individuals. We've also just been accepeted into the Natwest Accellerator Programme, so exciting times.

We also receieved an award from UnLTD as a social venture where we have our own mentor and attend free training and events. Business Wales, the Department for Business and Trade and officials from the Welsh Government who believe in our mission and developing Thinkedi so it can soon be used in the public sector too. 


Matthew Pierce: You’ve clearly got a great network behind you and a lot of support. Why was this support so important and what barriers have you faced? 


Sophie Mason (CEO of Thinkedi) :Every day there have been barriers. I say ‘In business it’s always two steps forward one step back, but with every step back you earn and get stronger”. I really do think a huge part of being an entrepreneur is to ‘just keep learning’ and be humble, other people will know better than you. But also to be firm enough in your own conviction that your prepared to try it your way anyway sometimes even if you’re wrong.  You need people around you to challenge you. 

And I think this is why it’s important to have great people around you, who can keep your true to your mission and to yourself. 

There have been times when I haven’t been able to physically access meetings and networking events or spaces because there wasn't wheelchair access to the building. Event lighting that induces migraines, 4 hour long meetings without breaks, presentations without colour contrast that I can’t read and so much more.  

Asking for adjustments – I have been met with resistance. Everyone says they want to help but I’ve had my fair share of eye rolls asking for breaks or building access. Those who do make those minor changes have really valued and benefitted from my diverse experience. Honestly, its been hard. I’ve often felt demoralised and close to giving up, but I don’t and I won’t. 


Matthew Pierce: What drives that level of determination? 


Sophie Mason (CEO of Thinkedi) : Oh it’s my vision 100%. I see a future where it’s easy for people to make all kinds of adjustments to include people and where we are accountable as individuals to make that happen. The legislation is already there. But we’ve been able to hide behind it being ‘difficult’. That why we need Thinkedi as a solution.

And the money being wasted! 127 a billion every year in the UK because remembering to be inclusive is ‘difficult’.  

The harm that comes to individuals like me by not acting is huge. I’m a strong advocate for social model of disability – we are not disabled by our conditions. Our conditions and characteristsics are a natural variance in the human condition. We are disabled by society; the way things have been set up to prioritise those with more privilege. I think this extends to all protected characteristics too. If we make changes to be more accessible and inclusive, the label ‘disabled’ quickly fades. 

And I've been on the other side of the table. I’ve had to manage grievance investigations at work. So often, I saw a manager forgetting to consider inclusion and the detrimental impacts that had on their employee. Can you imagine turning up to work with all the hurdles of getting ready only to not be able to access a building? To be sat outside worrying if this will impact your career? So greivances go in, and people are blamed and these people go off with stress because they didn’t feel supported. This is happening everywhere and it serves no-one. 

I guess I’m driven by knowing that Thinkedi will make that change happen. 


Matthew Pierce: So how do you manage your teams, what is your leadership style?


Sophie Mason (CEO of Thinkedi) : As for leadership, I run on the principles of putting incluivity first (obviously), creating psychologically safe spaces, embedding a learning culture, collaboration not competition, taking fierce accountability and making it fun. 

If you treat employees like ‘machines’ you get ‘machines’ - inflexible devices that need huge energy resources, eventually burn out and have to get replaced and you’re going to need a new ‘machine’ for each new function. It’s wrong.


People are more than that! I treat my employees and networking colleagues for exactly who they are, brilliantly unique individuals whose experience and skills cannot be whittled down to a two page CV.  


Matthew Pierce: What would you advice be to anyone looking to start up in a tech or cyber career? 


Sophie Mason (CEO of Thinkedi)I mean to anyone really, don’t rule out cyber and tech jobs because you don’t have experience in the field. You can often be taught on the job and so many skills are applicable. Take Iungo solutions, Admiral and BoxUK who really support their diverse staff to explore their careers. With my psychology and safeguarding background, I really wish I’d discovered cyber years ago. There are so many roles out there. And if you manage a larger organisation, create secondment opportunities to allow individuals to explore other roles. In the very least your cross polinating the startegic visions with intradepartmental working. 

And if you have a new idea, don’t wait for someone else to do it and don’t reject your idea because ‘its not the way things are done’. Chances are you are the only one who is in that exact situation to understand why your idea is so important.  


Matthew Pierce: Well, you heard it here first. Sophie's journey with Thinkedi is nothing short of extraordinary at the forefront of shaping a future where technology serves everyone, breaking barriers, and fostering success for all.


The success of Thinkedi is not just about technology; it's about the people behind it. Sophie's personal journey, resilience, and commitment to fostering a truly inclusive workplace culture have played pivotal roles and make Sophie Mason one to watch out for. 

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