Crown Prince Court

Biography of the speakers

Thorkil Sonne

Biography and Career Highlights

  • Born in 1960 in Denmark, Mr Thorkil Sonne holds a Master’s degree in Surveying, Planning and Land Management from Aalborg University, Denmark
  • Sonne is the founder and chairman of Specialisterne (The Specialists) in Denmark and the US, and of Specialist People Foundation, with the goal to enable 1M jobs for people with autism and similar challenges
  • He first became involved in autism when his son Lars was diagnosed with infantile autism in 1999
  • He became active in Danish Autism Society, eventually leaving his Technical Director position in an IT startup company to establish Specialisterne in 2003
  • Ever since, he has played an active role in global social entrepreneurship, and was named an Ashoka Fellow in 2009 and Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur in 2012 
  • He is now based in the United States where he is driving the expansion of the Specialisterne model with the goal to enable 100K jobs for people with autism and similar challenges
  • His past roles include, Technical Director of MIGway and project manager within TDC IT Services
  • He also was chair of the board of directors of Autism Denmark, West Zealand division, and member of the board of directors of the Danish IT Industry Association

  • Harnessing the power of Autism Spectrum Disorder, co-written with Jonathan Wareham, MIT Innovations Journal
  • “The Case for Hiring Outlier Employees”, co-written with Robert Austin, Harvard Business Review Blog Network

    Awards, Recognition and Noteworthy Mentions

  • Autism Prize 2004 by Autism Denmark
  • IT Prize 2008 by the Danish IT Industry Association
  • Everyday Hero by Lions International
  • Brave Thinker by The Atlantic Magazine
  • Intelligent Optimist by Ode Magazine

Lecture Title Lecture Date
The Power of Being Different 16 April 2014