Sonja I. Bata was born in Switzerland, where she studied architecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Marrying shoe-factory owner Thomas J. Bata in 1946, Sonja soon became actively involved in her husband’s company. Side by side, the couple succeeded in rebuilding Thomas’ late father’s organization and turning it into a globally recognized footwear business. It’s approximated that 250 million pairs of Bata shoes are sold in 60 countries annually. Sonja is also well-known as the founding chairman of Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum.
She has received countless honours, including being named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1983, an Honorary Captain of the Canadian Navy in 1989, and North York Chamber of Commerce’s Woman of the Year in 1992. She was the recipient of the United Nations Environmental Programme’s Silver Medal in 1982.
Sonja and her husband have four grown children, and as of 2008 she resides in Toronto, Ontario.