The Future Is In Working With Empathy with Sophie Wade · ShiftWorkPlace

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E88 The Future Is In Working With Empathy with Sophie Wade


Empathy is the future. It will shape things in ways we cannot imagine.

Bio for Sophie Wade

Sophie Wade is a work futurist, international keynote speaker, and author of Empathy Works. As Founder and Workforce Innovation Specialist at Flexcel Network, a Future-of-Work consultancy, she helps corporations maximize the benefits and minimize the disruption in their transition to digitalized work environments.

Sophie’s executive advisory work and transformative workshops help companies adapt and update their work environments to attract, engage, and retain their multigenerational and distributed talent.

Episode highlight

Sophie grew up in London. Her father worked for the BBC while her mother was a teacher in a remote area in London where she taught low income children. Sophie’s family would travel and camp in different countries during the summer holidays which allowed them to meet people and experience a different culture.

The exposure to different cultures and people opened up Sophie’s mind to know more is out there. In A level classes, Sophie opted to study Chinese over Math and Chemistry. Her increasing interest in culture led her to study China’s history and culture, study Mandarin and live and worked in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Sophie has travelled to many countries, and experienced many diverse cultures which shaped how she views people. Her interactions across cultures led her to believe in empathy as the future. In this episode, she shares her journey to becoming the person she is today.



  • “Data has never really changed people’s hearts.”
  • “Once you live outside of your country, and you see your country from the outside, living in somebody else’s culture and environment, it changes how you see the world and yourself.”
  • “If I’m living in another country, I have more freedom to be whoever I am. I resist boxes. Resist defining anybody by how they look, their gender, what they know, their race, whatever it might be.”


Childhood Incidents

Sophie’s mom was a teacher in a remote area in Londonwhere students came from diverse backgrounds, and English wasn’t their first language. Some of the children had challenging situations. Sophie recalls times when they lived with some pupils because her mother wanted to offer them a particular experience. For instance, one of the kids had never seen a cow, so Sophie’s mom took him in to experience cows.

Sophie’s Dad worked for BBC for 25 years asan editor for a children’s show. As a result of her parent’s careers, the family would engage in deep conversations at home. Camping in different countries openedSophie’s mind to different people and cultures.

Influential groups

Sophie’s encounters with people from different groups made her more empathetic and taught her not to make assumptions.

Temperament and Personality Influences

Exposure to different cultures and people has played a significant role in Sophie’s life. She is empathetic and not quick to judge anyone.

Cultural Epiphanies

Recalling her first day using chopsticks in China, Sophie was mortified at the mess she made until she looked around at how the locals ate and realized that eating rice requires bending over your bowl and scooping the rice into your mouth closer to the source. Much neater!

It dawned on her that cultures are different, and what could work for one culture might not work for the other.

Thriving Moments

Sophie is direct, and she appreciates when people are open and candid with her.

She believes that a growth mindset is the most helpful way to move forward productively.

Soap Box Moment

Sophie invites us to purchase her book, ‘EMPATHY WORKS’ and listen to her podcast, ‘Transforming Work.’


Sophie Wade is a futurist and author of Empathy Works. Her family background includes a father in the BBC and a mother teaching in a disadvantaged area of London, England, where social justice issues were always front and center. Home conversations centered on being curious about the world, learning about people and culture, and paying attention to context. Combined with multiple childhood and youth camping experiences across Europe in different countries, Sophie’s increasing interest in culture caused her to study China’s history and culture. She subsequently studied Mandarin and lived and worked in Hong Kong and Taiwan, where she finally picked up the skill of eating rice from a bowl and chopsticks without making a mess! Fast forward to her current job, Sophie now helps corporations maximize the benefits and minimize the disruption in their transition from old-school ways of doing things to talent-focused, digitalized work environments. I enjoyed Sophie’s bright and interesting perspective on the world and the world of work and loved hearing her story.


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