Yewande Akinola: Engineering, Spirituality, and Building a better world
Yewande Akinola inspires me. She’s well aware of the voices in her head that try to stop her doing things, but she refuses to listen. Instead of allowing them to undermine her dreams of becoming an engineer, she overcame them and left Nigeria to study at Warwick University in the UK. Instead of letting those voices ask, “but what will people think?” when she was invited by Channel 4 and National Geographic to present the television show Titanic: The Mission, she brushed them aside and grasped the opportunity with both hands.
Like all of us, she has those voices in her head telling her the task is too big, that she’s not good enough, that she’ll fail if she tries. But her excitement for what could go right is much more powerful than her fear of what might go wrong. As a child she would lie on her back and stare at the stars overwhelmed by the potential of what she could achieve. And she’s achieved so much.
A specialist in water management, while her job is based in the UK, in her spare time she travels to Africa, the Middle East and East Asia to work on water and sanitation projects in underdeveloped countries. She is the founder of the Global Emit Project, mentoring young people who have an interest in engineering. And she works with campaigns to encourage young girls to consider a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
She’s won numerous awards, designed numerous engineering projects, been a figurehead for numerous campaigns. And behind it all is a desire to build a better world – fuelled by her spirituality. Dreams, imagination, creativity, spirituality, science and engineering. Rather than a collection of things that don’t mix, they instead blend the vision and the skills that make the impossible possible. Science and engineering helped man realise the dream of visiting the moon. Engineers build the schools that empower children to dream about their future – and realise it
And Yewande Akinola is proof that you should dream. Because you can achieve anything as long as you’re not frightened to take that first step.
Take a listen to our conversation.