January 4, 2014
“I think the reason [Voss Foundation’s]work is important is because… over vaccines, over health, over food… water is really the main goal that connects all the communities,” says Sophie Ann Terrisse. “When you fly over Africa and… see all those little huts and villages, you can actually see how isolated they are and it really gives you a sense of [how]without water there is no survival, there cannot be survival.”
Sophie has over 20 years of experience in global brand strategy, business development, on-offline engagement, and marketing communications. In 1992, she founded her brand management firm STC Associates. From their offices in New York, Singapore, London, Paris and Mumbai, STC Associates help Fortune 1000 companies locally and globally solve complex go-to-market strategies, brand introduction, engagement and turn-around challenges in the Luxury, Technology, Financial Services, Beverages, and Hospitality industries. Past and present clients include Sony, Tata Communications, Tata Consultancy Services, Vodafone, Audemars Piguet, Chado Ralph Rucci, Maclaren, Pernod Ricard, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Weight Watchers, Barclays, and New York Center for Children, among others.
Since 2010, she and her team have provided full-time pro bono services to Voss Foundation with social media and a variety of other marketing and PR efforts.
“It was actually very interesting and timely,” Sophie recalls, “because I knew the VOSS brand as water and some people working there at the time, and just returned from a trip [to Swaziland]. And I have this picture of all those kids in uniform carrying cans of water… and I just have this image of all these women carrying these gigantic jars of water on their heads and you would just keep passing them on the road. I remember one on our way going to the beach… and then 3 or 4 hours later on our way back, passing the same woman who is still walking. I remember thinking “it’s impossible!
“So, when I came back to the United States, that’s when STC discovered [Voss Foundation. They had]this one image of a woman carrying this gigantic blue jar on her head, and I knew exactly how it felt to just be a silent witness of it. So we said, ‘What are you doing about it and how can we help?’ And that is how it all started.”
Sophie has been named one of the Top 15 CEO’s to Watch by PR News and Top 10 Fastest Growing firm by PR Week. She is a regular spokesperson and commentator featured on CNBC, MSNBC, BNN and published in Time Magazine, USA Today, AdWeek, PR Week and industry publications on various marketing issues and trends, including M&A, recalls, digital disruption and consumer behavior.
“We are so extraordinarily grateful to Sophie and her team,” acclaims Kara Gerson, Voss Foundation’s Executive Director. “Sophie was one of the first people outside VOSS Water who believed in our work and offered to help us in our mission. It has been such a fruitful long-term relationship – she and her team are beyond generous, always there for us with the most gracious flexibility and ceaseless devotion. It’s an honor to have her endorsement. Sophie and STC are truly are part of the Voss Foundation family!”
“[T]o me, water was always more important and critical over anything else,” Sophie explains. “I think the other reason [I decided to help Voss Foundation]was that, when I met Kara… I was really surprised by her personality. She comes across really sleek. And I was like, ‘Okay, who is this woman doing this non-profit job?’ [Kara]came and visited us in our building that, at the time was being renovated… I felt really, really bad. I said, “Hold on! The elevator is not gonna work! I am so sorry! Don’t take the emergency stairs, they are disgusting and I don’t want you to climb…” And she turned around and said, ‘I dig the ground with my own hands in Africa, why do you think I would be worried about how dusty your stairway is?’
“That was the beginning of it, I was like: ‘Okay, she’s really real.’ [A]nd the reality of it made a big difference because we worked with a lot of non-profits, where it is very political, very much about agendas, people’s agendas and not about getting your hands dirty and getting the work done, and I think that’s the thing I admire and respect the most about Voss Foundation. They have very little overhead and really every dollar is focused on projects and making a difference. It’s extremely graular and when you become a part of it, you know exactly how your time and your money is being used, and what difference it makes. I also really admire how they tirelessly continue to follow up and keep track of what happened in those communities. It’s not like they are in charge of a project and walk out. They never walk out. They are in that community, trying to make sure that around the water, more [development]projects come true. And I think that’s really phenomenal and really sets them apart…”
Voss Foundation thanks Sophie and Kristin, Keren, Ashley, Christine (pictured at right with Sophie, above), Mark, Sharon, Ji, and all the STC Associates past, present, and future who help us day in and day out!