Women of Vancouver is an editorial series featuring stylish and professional women in Vancouver. WofV producer and stylist, Jason Sarai of Style by Sarai, recently interviewed Sonia Beeksma of Global TV for this exclusive in-depth photo editorial.
What do you do for work?
I’m a Weather Anchor and a Community Reporter for Global BC. I’m also the host for the Community Calendar “Our BC,” focusing on all the vibrant events going on in the Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.
How did you get involved in this career?
I have always been a performer as far as I can remember. I was born in New Delhi and moved to Canada at the age of nine, and I was lucky my parents encouraged my desire for dance and music. I spent most of my late teen years dancing professionally and doing commercials. In the back of my head I always knew I would be involved in the media business. With my husband’s support, I ended up going back to school for Broadcasting Performing Arts Program and I have never looked back. I believe in destiny, and this industry is definitely something I feel I belong in.
What do you enjoy most about your career and industry?
Something that really resonates with me is reporting and highlighting positive and uplifting community stories. News can be a tough business – you need thick skin, not just for your sanity, but also to remain professional and be able to deliver a difficult story. It’s something I still struggle with to this very day. But when I come across great positive stories that leave you smiling, I feel as if I’m truly fulfilling my purpose.
As for weather, well mostly it’s great news, it’s reporting and storytelling but directed in one area and there is no script. You get to work with some great graphics, everything is spontaneous, and you are constantly studying and discovering weather patterns. It’s exhilarating!
Where do you see your career in five and 10 years?
Having a Sonia Network. Ha! Kidding. I hope to remain in this industry, but with deeper roots. The media world is evolving, and I want to grow with it. I would like to be part of a morning show one day and help people start their day on a positive note. Give them a piece of hope and joy that they can take along with them throughout the day which consequently may encourage them, build them or help them in any way.
What are the challenges of starting a career in television?
The biggest challenge is staying focused. You get a lot of great advice in the beginning along with warnings of how impossible this industry can be to get involved in. Every single person has his or her own path to success, and last time I checked, success doesn’t come easy. So yes, it requires focus and hard work but that just the nature of the business.
What has been your greatest challenge to date?
Balancing motherhood as a career woman. I love my job, but I also love being a mom. Creating a balanced life is something I constantly strive to achieve.
What has been your greatest business accomplishment to date?
To work for Global BC was my goal from my first day in school. I work there now – mission accomplished.
What’s your advice to professionals wanting to pursue the path of becoming a reporter?
Find a mentor. School is great and I highly recommend getting as much education under your belt. But there is something so valuable about learning from a professional in the industry. I’ve been very blessed to have some top broadcasters take me under their wings.
Also, dress for the job you want, always!
Describe a typical work day?
Ha! I don’t really have a typical work day since I have so many roles at Global BC. In general, most days start around 4 a.m. with me dragging my feet to the makeup room.
It takes about 45 minutes to get my face on, hair and clothes. Once I’m in my uniform, I start to build my weather graphics. Sometimes that can take long, depending on the kind of day it’s going to be. There are a lot of charts observation, studying the satellite imagery, reading different models. Once I feel confident about the forecast, I start inputting the information into WSI (a program we use to display the forecast). The icons and temperatures you see on your television, those are all manually put in.
In between my weather hits, I’m posting weather updates on our social media outlets.
How do you manage your personal and professional life?
Sometimes they both mix, only because I’m truly blessed to have some great “work” friends. A lot of my colleagues have kids, so we end up doing play dates. My colleagues without kids – we usually share a love for wine and that is always a great foundation for a solid friendship.
As for my friends outside of work, they all also have families and understand the juggling required with a busy schedule. We do have a few annual traditions that bring us together each season and we’re all content with that.
Now, as for my immediate family, they always come first – no matter what.
Outside of work, what do you do in your spare time?
Most of my spare time is spent being a mom and a wife – my top two favourite roles. Working out is a big part of my life too. Unfortunately, I had a bad accident two years ago so I’m a little limited but I cherish any form of exercise.
What are your favourite hobbies?
Working out, cooking and reading. Some would argue “shopping” should be in there but I categorize that in activities.
What charitable organizations/programs do you work with?
I’ve been involved with Children’s Wish Foundation for almost two years now. Their goal is to simply bring joy back into homes. When a child experiences a life threatening illness, I can’t imagine the anguish the entire family goes through. Children’s Wish steps in and, for a short moment, erases all the pain by granting these beautiful little souls their one wish. You should see the smiles on these sweet faces. It makes my heart so happy.
As for other charities, I emcee a lot of events and galas related to children’s charities. Children’s hospital is another great foundation I’m so proud to be a part of. I’ve hosted a lot of events for them including the big telethon Global BC puts on each year. And recently I got involved with Strathcona Food Program – the thought of little kids going hungry in our wealthy city is unacceptable and we all need to make a difference in rectifying that.
How did you get involved with this cause/organization?
I love children. They are our future. I am drawn to any charity revolving around little beings and can never turn down an opportunity to give or help raise funds for them.
Why is giving back important to you and your company?
When you’ve been given so much, it’s a natural reaction. One of my favourite scriptures says, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over.”
This means when I give, I get more. And that means I can give more. What a beautiful principle.
How do you select charitable organizations that you emcee/host?
To be honest, I don’t ever say no to any hosting or emceeing opportunities. I love all the charities and the great work they do, and stand behind them 100%. It’s also a great way for me to connect with people. I love meeting new people and raising funds for great causes.
What does a typical weekend look like for you?
Well I’m part of the Weekend Morning News show, so weekends are a blast!
Where are your favourite places to eat at in Vancouver?
So many favourites! Little Mexican Cantina in my hometown of Steveston, it’s a gem. My husband and I are obsessed with the calamari at Dockside on Granville Island. But, my all time favourite place (including my four year old) is Minami. That restaurant has turned my four year old into a sushi snob. That says something.
What do you recommend someone to try when at Minami?
Everything! Lychee Martini, miso soup, Seared Hamachi Carpaccio, Salmon Oshi Sushi, Albacore and Sockeye Sashimi, Brussels Sprout Chips and Kale Goma-ae. Now I’m hungry!
What do you like most about your experience at Minami?
As a parent, you want to be able to enjoy certain things you did in your pre-parent life. And Minami allows me to do that. They have so much love and respect for everyone who walks in, no matter who you are. I go there with my four year old all the time and they are always so accommodating.
What are you favourite cafes and coffee shops in Vancouver?
Wow, so many. If you say the words “authentic beans” to me, I’m sold. Revolver makes delicious Americanos, crema is everything to me and they’ve nailed it. Prado uses 49th Parallel beans and I’m happy about that.
What’s your drink of choice?
Alcoholic – Pinot Noir in winter and a buttery California Chardonnay in summer
Non-alcoholic – Americano, double shot.
Water is good too.
What do you like most about your experience at Revolver Cafe?
The coffee takes me to a different part of the world. Still haven’t nailed the place, but I swear it’s not Vancouver.
Where do you like to go with your family?
We love going to water parks, trying new restaurants as a family and the Aquarium.
What do you like most about the Vancouver Aquarium?
Mariah gets all her energy out while we stroll behind her holding hands and drinking our coffee. Ha!
It’s a great learning place, and she truly finds it intriguing. We started taking her since she was five months old. To this day, she gets wide eyes when she sees the dolphins. It’s a special place.
How do you think people would describe your style?
Chic and conservative. Although, I’m starting to wear more sexy dresses lately, at my husband’s request.
What does style mean in the world of business? How has it played a part in your career?
When people turn on their television, I think they expect to see someone polished and professional. Style can’t be a huge distraction since we have very important information to deliver, but there is definitely room for some fun.
Having said that, I do push limits with my fashion and I have certainly received attention for it, so far all positive.
What does style mean to you?
Style is not just in clothing and accessories, but how you carry yourself. A smile and kindness are both most definitely part of my style. It’s a silent language we speak. I don’t like having too many conversations about what I’m wearing because it’s something that speaks for itself.
FEATURED WOMAN OF VANCOUVER
|SONIA BEEKSMA||Global BC
WOMEN OF VANCOUVER TEAM
Producer & Stylist
|STYLE BY SARAI
Hair & Makeup Stylist