Ask anyone to describe Sophie Throsby, and they will respond, “Grounded. ” Or, “family-oriented.” Sophie is the eldest of six and has described their household growing up as a “permanent state of disorganized chaos.” And she wouldn’t have it any other way. She has cultivated special relationships with each of her siblings, bonds that have shifted and strengthened as they transition from teens to adults. She credits her parents, individually and collectively, as role models.
She reflects, “Their individual lives have taken different paths so that they can be respectful and loving partners to each other, wholly supporting our family and each of their kids, and developing on their own too.
From my Dad, I learn so much about how to shape a career and how to have a career that I enjoy. He reminds me that there will be big ups and big downs for everyone, and that it helps to do something you're excited about. He helps me not only navigate the minutiae of the day to day but also the bigger questions of who I want to be in the terms of my career, how I want to mentor others, how I want to challenge myself, how I should think about my advancement and how I should think about balancing my life and work.
From my Mum, I continue to learn so much about what it means to create a fulfilling life and develop your own personhood. She is teaching me how important it is to work on yourself - whether that's by learning new things, having new experiences, being thoughtful about how you mature and develop, or being deliberate in how you become an adult.
From Mum and Dad I learn so much about what it means to truly support your children in whatever they want to pursue and in whoever they want to be. I learn what true partnership and team work looks like - including the hard parts (compromise, being with someone as you/they change, sacrifice, family).
They've made everything in my life possible, they give the best advice, they're loving and fun and funny. I'm eternally grateful.”
Her parents trusted her to make a monumental decision as a teen. Sophie spent her younger years in Southeast Asia, primarily in Hong Kong and Tokyo, and attended boarding school in Sydney starting in sixth grade. She decided to take a risk and attend university in the United States. “It is hard to even think back about how that choice has not only defined what my life is today, but also crystallized who I am as a person. Sometimes I forget about what a big deal that decision was – to go through a process that was logistically harder and more complicated than going to an Australian university, to go through the exam and application process in addition to a challenging school-leaving process in Sydney, then move around the world, to go somewhere I'd never been to a place with no one I knew into a system I didn't totally understand...sometimes I forget about what a big deal that was. When I need a reminder to be brave, I think about that experience. It taught me about being independent, navigating challenges, carving out a life for yourself, making active choices, and that it’s OK to be scared - it probably means you've leveled up. I'm so grateful I made that choice, and that that choice landed me at Duke which has given me so much.”
At Duke, Sophie declared a Political Science major, Religion minor, and Policy Journalism and Media Studies certificate. She was active with her sorority and led Dukes and Duchesses, an organization of undergraduates selected to represent the student body at functions hosted by the Office of the President. Sophie also co-directed the All of the Above production, a collection of monologues written and performed by Duke women.
She interned with CNN, ABC11 Eyewitness News, and Bloomberg and took a professional position with Bloomberg as a Digital Desk Editor following her graduation in 2013.
In 2015, Sophie transitioned to the public relations and communications firm Joele Frank and has risen from Account Executive to the Director level, where she manages a team. The firm provides strategic counsel for companies experiencing crises like mergers and acquisitions, power struggles between the shareholders and the board, data breaches, and bankruptcy.
Looking back on her Duke experience, Sophie shares two pieces of advice for incoming first-year women: take risks, and seek out new experiences and new people. “Try out for the group you want to be in, take a hard class that you're interested in, take a class that you're curious about that has nothing to do with your other interests, say hi to someone new, ask them to lunch. Be brave!!! There are so many opportunities to explore - even though you want to be successful, try not to always take the safest path. Even if it doesn't work out as planned, you'll be proud of yourself for jumping in, and you'll learn something.
Be open to new experiences and new people - sometimes even in a place as large as Duke, it can be easy to gravitate toward people that are like you or have had similar experiences. You'll be exposed to so many people with interesting perspectives and backgrounds and it’s important to remind yourself to be open. Same goes even for making friends - I made a great group of friends my freshman year; I was very lucky. But then I sort of thought to myself, ‘OK, I'm all set.’ I shudder to think about the people I could have connected with more deliberately and seriously. And then some of the people I did connect with later are some of my dearest friends now. Try and keep an open mind in everything you do!”