About Sonja

Sonja Bernhardt OAM – serial technology entrepreneur, arguably Australia’s highest profile women in IT.

  • CEO  and Director of award winning ThoughtWare, developers of governance, risk management and compliance software i.on my
  • Featured in the Australian Government publication “Women Entrepreneurs – 18 Inspiring Tales of Small Business Success” (2007)
  • Founder of WIT – Women in Technology
  • Co-Founder of  AWISE – Australian Women in IT , Science and Engineering (closed in 2014)
  • Innovator behind the sometimes controversial – but always ground-breaking and effective – campaigns to raise awareness and encourage girls and women into technology careers Screen Goddess IT Calendar 2007, IT’s Million $ Babes Awards and Doing IT Around the World.

Sonja is passionate about her industry and since 1997 has consistently encouraged others to either take up a career in technology or adopt technology in their daily use through a multitude of career, role model, mentoring and board readiness programs that Sonja has been primarily responsible for designing and managing  In addition she is the innovator of some high profile, high impact non traditional girl and women in technology activities.

Sonja holds three management and information technology related degrees:

  • Bachelor of Arts majoring in abstract algebra and psychology (University of Qld Australia- 1987)
  • Graduate Diploma in Human Resource Management (Qld University of Technology, Australia – 1989)
  • MBA (Masters of Business Administration) (Queensland University of Technology, Australia – 1992)
  • Certified Developer of Enterprise (CDE).

Sonja was honoured to receive one of the countries highest recognitions when she was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to the IT industry (2011).  In addition she is the first Australian inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame (Silicon Valley 2005).

Multiple recognised in Who’s Who Publications;

  • Australian Women 2006-current
  • in Queensland 2007-2008 (Queensland is the state Sonja resides)
  • in Tasmania 2008 (Tasmania is the state of Sonja’s birth)

In addition to WiT and AWISE Sonja has held and continues to hold a string of impressive board and executive appointments held locally, nationally and internationally. Sonja’s professional achievements include the following awards, qualifications, appointments and publications and are available for viewing here.

Key Experience Includes:

Survey/Reviews – design survey instruments, conduct and analyse survey results (14 years),

Design, development and implementation of project methodologies and tool kits (19 years),

Project director and project management roles for:

  • Software Implementation and Upgrade Projects (21 years)
  • Software Development Projects (15 years)
  • IT&T Infrastructure Projects (15 years).

Download Sonja’s work CV here.

Sonja’s Style

DISC Evaluation:

She is known for her obvious enthusiasm, visionary leadership, intelligent rational thinking and business acumen.  The Australian IT industry and her peers recognise her as an action oriented results achieving role model who consistently delivers benefits through her innovation, leadership, pioneering achievement and collaborative contribution to the development of the technology industries.

Immediately noticeable traits are a high level of :

  • enthusiasm
  • energy
  • motivation
  • drive

Further investigation reveals continual innovation in ideas and processes, exceptional organisational and planning skills and an action orientated approach.

Leadership style and Management techniques:

Sonja has an acknowledged inspirational leadership style. This has been validated not only by feedback but also via behavioural profile testing.

Her leadership style naturally lends itself towards adding value to an organisation by being a positive motivated people mover, someone who initiates action and encourages/charms people into feeling motivated about their environment and work.

The key overriding factor to Sonja’s management style is an everlasting supply of enthusiasm and energy that fosters motivation and drive in those around her.

Sonja’s management style is open clear communication, honest, direct and action oriented, with a focus on continuous process improvement.

Sonja’s background and experience reveal strong skills in the areas of coaching/mentoring, project methodologies, project management and director roles, strategic planning advice and organisational skills.

3 Reasons why you would want Sonja on your board:

  1. I have a proven history of contributing at board, advisory council and executive committee levels. I am known in the Queensland business community as an active, action oriented, results deliverer. Which means you and your board will instantly receive value by my positive contribution towards achieving results.
  2. I am a high performing executive female whose career of choice is the Information & Communications Technology industry. Therefore your board will gain value from my “hands on” knowledge and experience and wide network of contacts in the ICT industry.
  3. I approach discussion and issues from an intelligent rational basis, taking wider implications into account. Which means your board will gain benefit from my objective reality-based viewpoint.

As testimonial for my abilities I include the following from a key player in the Queensland ICT industry – John Grant, chair of the CIAB. John wrote this to support an application for the Telstra Awards:

“I have known Sonja for over a year now and the experience has been exhilarating. Sonja and I have worked closely together as members of the Queensland Government’s (Department of Communication and Information, Local Government, Planning and Sport) Communication and Information Advisory Board (CIAB) and on three CIAB Working Groups for eBusiness, Industry Development and Electronic Service Delivery.

“Her attributes which I believe are key for consideration for the Awards are:

  1. Her energy and willingness to “get involved”. These days with the pressures we all have on our time and the demands from our professional and personal lives, it is great to have someone like Sonja around. When she says she’s in, you can guarantee she is and she will give it a 110% effort. The effect this has had on me and others she has worked with is motivational.
  2. Her leadership in moving things forward. She is not one to stay too long in one place and as such she draws others along with her. This has been particularly obvious in the working group meetings where we have been dealing with numbers of people and where the agendas need to be driven.
  3. Her eye for detail. It is not often that in one person there are competencies that extend from leadership to detail. Sonja has made her mark in setting the standard for process and documentation within the working groups and within the CIAB. In this environment where it is vital that documentation be complete and reflect the detail of discussions, Sonja’s capability has been highly valued.
  4. Her optimistic frame of mind. There are many opportunities for all of us to be overcome at times by the challenges we face in everyday personal and professional life. In this precarious state of mind it is a life-saver to have a true optimist around. One who continually sees the “glass half full” rather than “half empty”. Sonja has such a view and again it is energising to those who associate with her.”

Interested? … E-mail me at board@thoughtware.com.au

A register of past and current board and committee appointments is available here.

A mother of three – a son (1984) and two daughters (1982, 2003) – and grandmother of three. Sonja bases her life and all activities on a reality and reason based philosophy. Learn more about Sonja on Wikipedia. and her personal web site.