Ayo Sokale is a motivational speaker on a mission, to improve corporate equality, sustainability, and social responsibility. With a successful career in civil engineering, we sat down with Ayo to discover the secret to her career growth and how she engages audiences as a presenter. From inclusion to plastic consumption, do not miss our official Q&A with the social justice champion, Ayo Sokale.
What do diversity and inclusion mean to you and why are they important?
“Diversity and inclusion mean bringing a range of people together, regardless of their differences. This could be racial, ethnic, social, economic, geographic, academic, or whatever.
“I think inclusion is the most important factor. Inclusion means to make sure people can fully take part as their best selves. For example, an organization could have a diverse range of people, however, without making the environment more inclusive, it doesn’t allow employees to really embrace their job or show up as their best selves.
“Here’s an example. You may hire a new person and they may be a wheelchair user, but your office plan has narrow walkways and a lack of accessibility. This means you’ve got a diverse workplace, but it’s not inclusive to that person’s needs and therefore they can’t show up as their best selves.
“They come to work thinking about how they’re going to maneuver around the office, how they’re going to move around meetings. And this means they’re not able to show up in the ways we want people to. We want people to show up in their best way, where they feel included and nurtured.”
What are some small changes individuals could make in their everyday lives to live more sustainably?
“I’m one of the Institution of Civil Engineers’ water superheroes – I’m called Ego Angel!
“Here are some top tips to live more sustainably. Having a shorter shower makes a huge difference to water consumption. Secondly, why not walk or cycle [to work]? It is a fantastic way to look after your health while also looking after the planet.
“Why not switch your plastic products for better reusable options? Switch your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo one, your plastic bag for a reusable one, or even your shampoo and conditioner bottles for bars.
“They work just as effectively!”
As an experienced freelance presenter, what is the key to effective communication?
“As a freelance presenter, I think the key to effective communication is understanding your audience. Who is your audience and what are you trying to convey to them? If they’re an audience of my peers, I’d probably [present] very differently compared to an audience of secondary school kids!
“Once you know who your audience is, you have to understand the context of your speech – who’s speaking before you? Where are you in the line-up? Is it before lunch and people are completely zoned out? How do you need to really engage the audience to make sure they take on board the message you want to convey?
“Also, make sure you slow down! Calm down and ensure you speak as authentically as possible. People know when you’re speaking from [the heart] and they know when you’re not. And I think if you really want to engage people, you’ve got to start by engaging them in you.”
What is the secret to your career growth?
“The secret to my career growth? I don’t think there’s any particular secret to career growth, but I do credit three things and one of them is clarity. It means asking the question, ‘what does career success look like to me?’. I think it is so important because if you understand your goals, you actually have a better chance of achieving them.
“This leads me nicely to number two: growth. With a growth mindset and a clear goal in mind, you can then evaluate your skills, your knowledge, or your experience, and then you can assess where you are and what you need to do to get to where you want to be.
“And finally, I do think reflection is critical. In my early career as a graduate civil engineer, I really threw myself into reflecting and thinking about what I was learning. I think this is really, really pertinent. We would write these quarterly reports, and it would allow me to understand the technical part of the project and what I was gaining from them – what are the tangible lessons learned, and what do I need to do in the future as a result?
“I think all of this allows you to really embrace the learning process and make it more effective. Without it, you can’t get the most out of your growth experience.”
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