Ayo Sokale

Ayo Sokale

Civil engineer, Environment Agency, Flood and Coastal Risk Management

Country United Kingdom

Specialisms: Design, project management, environmental

Career highlights

My working day

I’m not sure any day as a civil engineer is the same! I’m currently working on TEAM2100 as well as designing a fish pass (a structure that helps fish’s natural migration in a river) in Oxford, so my time is split.

Some days I’m in the office, writing an appraisal paper, procurement strategy or doing detailed design. The next, I could be on-site, speaking with contractors, planning, etc.

That diversity of skills and competence means there’s something to interest everyone.

Right now, I’m enjoying getting involved with all of it.

My career inspiration

There was no individual project that inspired me.

Instead, I was inspired to become a civil engineer after witnessing engineering in developing nations, which resulted in transformed communities.

As a young, impressionable person, I marvelled at things that, in more developed countries, we sometimes take for granted – like opening a tap and getting fresh water and being able to travel down the motorway.

Observing first-hand how these feats of civil engineering improved society inspired me to pursue a career in the industry to shape the world around me.

Ayo Sokale at Tullway FAS.

Ayo Sokale at Tullway FAS.

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Every day is different, and results in achieving outcomes for local communities. It’s such a great feeling when a project has, for example, protected families from flooding, or improved the environment.

Ayo Sokale

What I love about being a civil engineer

I didn’t know how varied the role of a civil engineer really is, and the scope there is to explore different interests, from working on site to designing, project managing and working on strategic documents.

I’m a civil engineer, but I’m also

… a singer, dancer and all-round performer.

A huge part of my life outside work is charity work and fundraising.

I founded an annual charity event to raise funds for Derriford Hospital's Children's Cancer Service (DCCS).

I’ve also supported other charities, such as Sands, Rainbow Hospice, British Heart Foundation, RSPCA and Prospect Hospice, by running a half marathon, running several boot camps, organising fashion shows and singing in a harmony group and volunteering at the homeless shelter.

My other passions are cooking new dishes and, when I get the chance, backpacking around the world.

So far, I’ve backpacked through India, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and visited many more countries. I hope to see as much of the world as possible and learn about all the different cultures.

To me, all your various passions and different life experiences all bring a unique perspective, which help make you a well-rounded engineer ready to take on modern challenges.

The civil engineering myth I’d like to bust

There’s only one type of person that make a good civil engineer – put your stereotypes away.

The industry is changing quickly, with new commercial models, collaborative working, and a push to increase productivity and efficiency. It therefore welcomes anyone ready to part of solving the challenges of now and tomorrow.

I’d recommend a career in civil engineering because

I think a career in civil engineering has something for most people.

The industry is tasked with creating solutions to problems facing humanity, so it needs a diverse range of people with different ways of thinking and experiences to help come up with these answers.

The industry is exceptionally varied. Civil engineers may find themselves in many different roles – connecting communities through bridges, designing and building highways, providing clean water from our taps, or developing the comfortable buildings we inhabit.

And there aren’t just various disciplines, there are various pathways, like the role you take on (consultancy, client, contractor) or the job (a designer, project manager, commercial manager, etc.).

There is something for everyone. For example, if you’re conscientious and self-motivated, you might be a great designer. If you’re open and good with people, you might be a great team leader.

The project, past or present, I wish I'd worked on

In history, I’d love to work on Sir Joseph Bazelgette’s London underground sewer network, which replaced the use of open sewers at the time.

By removing contaminated water via an enclosed sewer system spanning up to 82 miles in length, there was a drop in deaths associated with the disease cholera.

I think the project and the foresight he had as an engineer solved the big problem of its day.

Today, I’d like to work on a project that solves our biggest problem, such as how we meet the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, especially number 6 - water globally.

The UN SDGs are a set of goals that aim to tackle hunger, climate change, poverty and other global problems.

Education

In secondary school, I was active in my school’s Design and Technology club.

I also attended a women in science and engineering (WISE) course on engineering at Imperial, a BT Entrepreneurial Engineering course, and Headstart at Strathclyde.

I also undertook work experience at a design consultancy.

In sixth form, I studied A-Levels in maths, physics, and chemistry, and an AS in further maths.

I then went to Plymouth University, where I did an MEng degree in civil and coastal engineering, with a sandwich year working for engineering firm CH2M HILL, which meant I returned to university to complete my degree with some useful experience behind me.

In my final year, as president of the Civil Engineering society, we hosted a careers fair, where I met two Environment Agency (EA) graduates who talked to me about a career there. I later successfully applied for a graduate role and have been with the EA ever since!

Superheroes

Ayo Sokale

Ayo Sokale is an ICE Invisible Superhero. To find out more about her alter-ego Eco Angel, head to the ICE Water: From Source to Tap exhibition page.

 
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