Sophie Adelman

Co- Founder, WhiteHat


Sophie Adelman is the Co-founder and General Manager of WhiteHat, a talent accelerator that helps young people launch their careers at the best companies via apprenticeships. As President, Sophie is responsible for all internal operations in the business from product to sales to apprenticeship training delivery.

Prior to WhiteHat, Sophie was the Head of Sales EMEA and European GM for, the developer recruitment platform, which she launched in the UK in 2014 as Hired’s first international employee. Previously, Sophie worked for RIT Capital and Egon Zehnder. She started her career at Goldman Sachs in London. Sophie has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an MA (Cantab) from Cambridge University.

Sophie was chosen as a 2018 London Tech Week ChangeMaker and has been nominated for several female founder awards as well as an Ambitious Women in Tech Mentor.

1. Best piece of advice you’ve been given?

“Act like an owner” – This is now one of our company values and is a personal mantra.  Throughout my career I’ve always operated as though the company I worked for was my company.  I’ve tried to go above and beyond, to act with integrity and to drive for results.  Having this mindset has helped me focus on what is important and has enabled me
to build a reputation as someone who cares and can be relied.  It was also great training for becoming an entrepreneur as I already operated as though I was running my own business.  

2. Worst piece of advice you’ve been given?

“Get a blue chip name on your CV”

I’ve had the most success where I’ve focused on working with great people that I can learn from rather than optimising for the role, title or the brand name of company I work for.  If you work with exceptional people who want to develop you and make you successful, you will grow personally and professionally, and you’ll be more successful because you have champions who want you to succeed.  Every job teaches you new skills but if you focus on learning from the best in the world, you will grow every day.  

3. What would you tell your younger self?

Spending so many hours preparing for exams and stressing about getting good grades wasn’t worth it.  At the time, there wasn’t a prestigious apprenticeship path available to me – what I gained from school and university was personal friendships and professional networks and the credential that opened doors to my first jobs.  Memorising the stages of Oxbow lake formation hasn’t been useful in my career!  That’s not to say I regret the path I took but I put myself under a lot of pressure and that affected my mental health and my happiness. 

4. What excites you most about the future of your industry?

That perceptions about the value of a university degree are changing rapidly, both with young people and within companies.  It’s exciting to see how many businesses are recognising that by only hiring people from a handful of
universities they are missing out on incredible talent and limiting the diversity of background and thought that can contribute to their ongoing success.  There has also been a shift towards treating learning as something
employees should be doing throughout their career rather than something you do upfront for 3 years to get a uni degree.  Over 80% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t even been created yet so we all need to think about ongoing skill development and cultivating a growth mindset throughout our careers to be successful.  Apprenticeships provide a mechanism for individuals and companies to create that change.

5. Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some incredibly inspiring people throughout my career who have become mentors and friends.  However, at the moment, the people who inspire me the most are our apprentices.  They are ambitious, smart and hungry to learn and they are choosing a path less travelled, becoming ambassadors for the next generation of apprenticeships.  Every day, through their commitment, contribution and behaviours they are shifting how their colleagues, clients and managers think about what high potential looks like and, by being role models, they are changing the way society functions.  Small actions taken by many apprentices every day is creating a tidal wave of change.  That’s very inspiring.  

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