Ellie Hagopian

Chief Executive, Nomosphere South Africa

American Ellie Hagopian arrived in South Africa for a three week visit in 2009 and hasn’t really managed to leave yet, not for long anyway.

She volunteered with an NGO for eight months in Cape Town, was offered a job and stayed.

“I think that the opportunities here to experiment and do different things, in combination with a beautiful country and diverse and fascinating people, make it a great place to do business,” she says.

Hagopian has been in the technology industry for quite a while now and was employee number 15 at AskJeeves (now ask.com).

She is currently the chief executive of the newly launched local office of European wifi giant Nomosphere.

She’s also the deputy chair of industry body the Wireless Access Providers Association (WAPA), a volunteer position she finds time for amid the hectic schedule required to get a new company up and running.

“WAPA promotes technical and business best practices for the wireless industry, as well as engaging with the government to produce the proper regulatory framework to enable our sector to grow. Having to learn how to think and speak on behalf of the entire industry and not just one company has been a great growth and learning experience for me,” she says.

In her spare time Hagopian is a competitive CrossFit athlete. “I’ve been doing it four years and for me it’s a lifestyle thing,” she says.

“I love to know that I have the strength to do, for example, a strict pull up, something a few years back I did not think I would be able to do.”

Hagopian plans to take over the world, slowly. “My general motto is that you accomplish more by working with others than you do on your own. Partnerships take work, but they’re worth it in the end.” — Samantha Perry