BBC Presenter, Civil Engineer and a leading keynote speaker in her field – Ayo Sokale possesses an array of talents and expertise, working at the cutting edge of the scientific, environmental and media landscape.
A generation of young people have grown up following Ayo at the BBC – most prominently as the co-presenter on CBeebies of Get Set Galactic – an entertaining, science-based immersive gameshow, exploring themes from gravity and the Solar System to pollination, energy and much more and showcasing her love of working with children and sharing the joys of scientific learning, exploration and experimentation. Ayo has presented for BBC Reel and BBC Bitesize, where she’s covered the first principles on an array of scientific subjects from the Physics to Design. She also works as TV expert on STEM issues – including documentaries for the likes of the Smithsonian, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Yesterday TV and Channel 5 – and counts Shell, Heineken, Blue Yonder, the NHS and Thames Water among the leading clients she has worked with as a keynote speaker.
Ayo Sokale is a Chartered Civil Engineer and Project Team Manager for the Environment Agency in Eastern England and is a popular Keynote Speaker on the environment and sustainability. She was previously a project manager and BIM lead, pushing for innovative, efficient and sustainable delivery of flood and coastal risk management schemes. Ayo was a Graduate Civil Engineer on the Environment Agency’s training scheme where she undertook internal and external placements which enabled her to sign off her ICE training agreement in 2.5 years and achieve CEng in 3 years. A former Deputy Mayor of Reading, she campaigned tirelessly on sustainability issues in the area.
Ayo Sokale was selected as one of Professor Lord Robert Mair’s Future Leaders for his year as President of the ICE. She is one of the ICE’s Water Superheroes aptly named Eco Warrior (previously Angel) and is an excellent Motivational Speaker and Inspirational Speaker, particularly when it comes to inspiring young people to pursue STEM subjects. Ayo is a STEM ambassador and mentor, encouraging others to take up careers in Civil Engineering. She was also nominated for the Top 50 Women in Engineering under 35 initiative run by The Telegraph in partnership with The Women’s Engineering Society and is a popular Diversity and Inclusion Speaker, particularly during black History Month.
In recent years, Ayo has felt more able to talk about being on the autism spectrum. She has a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome and is an empathetic and inspirational keynote speaker on neurodiversity, mental health challenges and how to overcome them. She is writing her first book in the field of self development to support these endeavours.
Ayo Sokale loves the performing arts, fitness, has a passion for supporting great causes and has raised funds for a number of charities, using her platform as a beauty queen and finalist for Miss Galaxy England, Miss Earth and Miss Great Britain.
We have heard it all before, we are facing a climate change challenge. An existential crisis. What does it mean for modern day professionals? How do we all go about contextualising this and as a result taking suitable actions.
Ayo talks about the sustainability triad – The environment, Social and the Economy & the UNSDG’s goal role in outlining the breadth of the challenge.
The importance of Biodiversity, Single use plastic reduction. The role of the individual, businesses, and government. As well, as environmental and climate injustice – the undue spread of consequence on certain communities with case-studies from the UK and US.
She also has a discussion on our journey as people on the journey to sustainability and humanity upcoming pitfalls such using shame and force and forgetting historical context in their bid to achieve the sustainability goals.
Ayo’s sustainability talks can also include the following lens:
– Sustainability and the economy (Do our current economic practice make the cut?)
– Sustainability and human psychology – growth and expansion (Natural desire to expand and grow – in natural conflict with the need to consume less etc).
– Sustainability and class (The undue impact of natural consequence & policy on lower class – UK centric).
– Sustainability and the future (Children, Malthusian Theory).
– Sustainability and mental health (Rise in Nihilism and fear for the future).
– Sustainability and technology (Case studies from the Built environment).
– Sustainability and Innovation – what is innovation (research, implement technology, learning from failure, collaboration and sharing knowledge).
– Climate change –The case for change – Adaption and Mitigation.
There has been a historical fight for equality. Today in the modern world the fight has drifted to the fight for equal representation of women in tech, construction, and wider STEM.
Ayo talks about the value of this. Values such as: women in the room where the build environment and the technology that impact all our lives are designed and implemented. She also paints another picture and discuss the careers currently predominate carried out by women and question the way these careers are perceived and valued. And explore the very important ways these industries also positively influence the world. She used this to challenge this new form of bias and the way its manifest in this arena.
Ayo talks about myths and folklore and the representation of feminine and masculine energies and the way it’s being rewritten over time to paint a new picture that limits both ways of being and the need to understand these embedded cultural ideas and the impact this has on our behaviours and expectations of people (bias).
She likes to talk about the natural diversity in the world around us taking lesson from Gary Ferguson – 8 master lessons of nature – where the diversity in wildflower has a critical role in the ecosystem and can be extrapolated to see it impact in our wider lives.
Commonly we think of diversity as diverse peoples in a space. But is that truly diverse? The evolutionary case for in group vs Out group mentality. How does diversity and assimilation come together? How does diversity work in our current hierarchical structure, which values some people as less than? – Is diversity in all levels of society possible?
This is a discursive style talk, there are no answers. Just the posing of questions to support the audience in achieving ultimately a DIVERSE understanding.
The world needs diversity of thought. As a black autistic woman in STEM, Ayo often was advised to be XYZ. Because XYZ was valued more and viewed more favourable. That is not diversity, that is external difference and internal assimilation.
That is not inclusion, that is a form of exclusion. The world needs to create spaces for everyone to show up authentically knowing they will receive respect at work and their value will be seen even if their approach and style is different. So, how do you go about that? What are the current barriers? Etc These are questions I explore in my talk.
It is estimated that 30-40% of the world is neurodiverse. So, why is the conversation just getting started? Furthermore, are we having the right conversations?
Ayo chats through famous neurodiverse people to bring the message home that there are so many people that are unknown to us, that are neurodiverse. She talks about her neurodiversity and journey, about what the various kinds of neurodiversity mean for the individual – strengths and potential support needs.
Ayo advises how we can all provide space, places and be the people that allow neurodiverse individual to be themselves and to thrive.
She raises the alarm and speak on the importance of caution in our neurodiversity narrative talking about the value of neurodiversity but also Inherent worth as a counter to purely economic narrative of the value neurodiverse people bring to business. She talks about this through the lens of Alan Turing’s difficult life and incredible contributions.
Ayo shares tips and tricks for both Neurodiverse people and non-neurodiverse so all people can do their part in this journey to inclusion.
Beep – Beep – Urgent Response Required
Beep – Beep – Political constraint identified.
Beep – Beep – Conflicting stakeholders needs Identified.
Does this sound like your daily radar? Picking up the valid constraints in the world around you yet wanting to achieve tangible, long-lasting useful change.
In this short and catchy talk, I discuss this situation – a situation that commonly faces leaders, politicians, social change maker, thought leaders and anyone working to impact the world.
Ayo takes reflection from my political career, leadership roles and the research and map out a talk on how you truly change the world. First, she starts with YOU – understand the reality you perceive. Then the science of problem definition and the need to truly understand the positive change you want to elicit. She will discuss identity and problem solving and the common issue of attachment to the identity of solving the problem, to the extent that you don’t want change.
Ayo will talk using the GROW model to help you identify the goal, the reality, the options, and the will to change. And finally using the Kotter 8 steps to change Model to help you make the change.
She will embed my stories to bring the topic to life and share my 5-lessons learnt in making positive change in the world – Anti De-humanisation, The value of thinking in Grey, the value of positive assumptions, Understanding systems and RADICAL self-accountability.
Some many of us feel different and a little disruptive in the spaces, places we find ourselves. In this informative talk, Ayo uses personal and researched case-studies to explore the idea of being different, the genetic and evolutionary reason we pay attention to our difference and how this can cause dis-ease.
She makes a case for and against ditching our evolutionary desire to be a part of a tribe outlining the research and illuminating the embedded cultural stories. Ultimately, taking you on the journey to determine your values, understanding your needs and make a decision that works for you.
Ayo takes a holistic approach to development and career, and I share that in this highly personal talk. She shares her lesson on leveraging growth across the various facets of our lives and cross pollinating to accelerate growth.
She found this brought more sugar to my life and she shares how you can have more sugar in your life. Ayo talks about the How you can hack your potential and take the scary actions required. But maybe more importantly she talks about the Why – finding the why, the pyschological benefits of the why and creating your personal life framework based on this.
How do you describe yourself? You tell a story, right? Stories are fundamental – they are how we see the world; we perceive ourselves and the way forward.
Telling a compelling story leads to a compelling life. A hero’s life even? Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s journey model explains how each hero got on a journey leaving their current life behind to answer the call to adventure. Ayo talks through a simplified hero journey and help the audience to see their life as an adventure, increasing their resilience and excitement about life.
Carl Jung says ‘I am not what happens to me, I am what I choose to become’. Ultimately, self-awareness of who you are, the emotions you feel and then utilising storytelling that helps you weave a new meaning to your experiences is what helps you, become your very own hero.
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"Ayo was an excellent speaker for DVERSTY's Intentional Engineering series, we were humbled to have her. She represented her experiences as a Chartered Civil Engineer and Councillor extremely well. Delivering her presentation so eloquently, Ayo gave our guests an insight into the DNA of Civil Engineering. We'd like to thank Ayo for encourag-ing everybody to use their 'voice' to challenge injustices seen in their environment.”
Joanna Tomlin -Co-Founder & Development Director- DVERSTY
"Very interesting - such a positive force of nature…People often say that change happens because people 'stand on the shoulders of giants'. Today, I think we've all just met a giant!"
NHS Network members
"Ayo, I just wanted to say thank you very much for the talk today. Your energy and pas-sion was incredible and you brought some very valuable insights and practical tips, for which we are very grateful. I truly don’t know where you find the time to do it all, but the talk and what you are achieving was a real inspiration both for me personally and I know for the 120+ people listening in."
Paul Cuff, Chief Executive Officer, XPS
“Ayo - excellent talk. Enjoyed listening to you and also the enthusiasm and energy you exude is contagious. Well done and good luck. You are excellent speaker and you are a true inspiration thank you.”
"The event was hugely successful and Ayo was truly inspirational! Could you please con-vey our thanks and appreciation to Ayo for a very engaging talk – feedback has been very positive."
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