Helga Sonier: TranscribeMe Team Member Profile
I read once that the name Helga is derived from the word Holy and my middle name, Hildegard, from the phrase Maiden of War. I was fairly young at the time but I think the reading must have influenced me intrinsically because I never seem to take things on in small measure, but always as if on the battlefield fighting for my life. I was born in a small town in Canada called Summerside, on Prince Edward Island, in 1966. I don’t think being born a fire horse (Chinese astrology) helped to temper my warring spirit – at least not in my teens or early adulthood. I was a bit of a wild child its true, but that is another story for another time.
My life journey has brought me around the world several times and settled me in Auckland, New Zealand. Something like 22,000 kilometres from where it all started for me. I have three fantastic children who fascinate and move me on a daily basis. Although I regularly want to change the world and do amazing things, I only want to do it if I can catch my daughter’s soccer games and be there for my son at the end of his school day. For me that means I work really long and strange hours but I do it happily because I can, and do, have it all. Besides my passion for travel and people and spending time with my kids, I love to read and write above all else.
Political Campaign Management
Professionally, I am continually fascinated, because I have come around corners to find the most unexpected challenges (which of course I had to take on), and so I have gone from political campaign management in Toronto (two of my candidates are still in power in Canada today – 20 years later!) to retail store ownership in New Zealand. Initially good old print photography retail (Kodak Express) which led to an interest in digital when it first came out.
I was the first (or so said the Ansett NZ Inflight Magazine) person to use digital photography for adventure tourism in New Zealand. That was back around 98, when I mounted a DC120 (a real clunker today) on the wing of an airplane, running a solenoid down the wing and into the doorway. Tandem masters squeezed the solenoid on exit and when the plane landed I would run out between loads and switch memory cards and then print onto dye sub.
It is fair to say that I am more pioneer than settler, so when my businesses have become established, I am generally looking for a new adventure. With the Kodak Express store, my exit happened shortly after we won Business of the Year; Frantic DAE (Digital Adventure Evidence) after I was the first to establish an adventure digital platform that worked and then, believe it or not, the café ended after I finally learned to cook! All the while, I also held bread and butter jobs in communications, and I raised my family.
Realising my Passion
About five years ago, I decided it was time to settle down a little and get myself a stable, relaxed sort of job, so I completed a Diploma in Creative Writing and began freelance writing as a new career. It started slow and I made little, but my goal was to double my income annually until I was making a decent wage. It finally happened after four years and then, you guessed it – the tides turned again. TranscribeMe came along and I became a Founder and full time employee in a startup company converting voice to text in ways never before achieved.
I had (and have) a super cool idea I thought I might develop and so I went to a Startup Weekend in Auckland last September. That fateful weekend I became part of the TranscribeMe team and the rest is history – well, at least until I achieve my goal of helping to make TranscribeMe a hugely successful, multinational market leader in crowd-sourcing, hybrid technological solutions! After that…?