An Interview with Anne-Marie Imafidon
At our recent Knowledge Guild event, we caught up with one of our wonderful speakers, Anne-Marie Imafidon . We chatted about STEM, diversity and how to harness inclusive innovation for the future. Anne-Marie has already done so much, but her energy and huge role models means she has so much left to conquer.
Hi Anne-Marie! Could you briefly introduce yourself?
I’m Anne-Marie Imafidon, I’m a social entrepreneur, technologist and all-round cool person.
The amazing thing about your career is not only your personal achievements, but how you have chosen to use your skills and experience to help future generations of women like you. Did you have any idols growing up? Or role models to turn to?
There are lots of people who have inspired me along the way. I remember when I was younger, specifically Tim Berners-Lee was someone I looked up to. Now that I’m older and running Stemettes, which is all about encouraging girls into science and technology, Dame Stephanie Shirley is my role model. She was a big tech entrepreneur in the sixties and she achieved so much. Every morning I wake up and know that compared to her example, I haven’t done anything yet!
How important is it for young people to see people who look like them in leadership or STEM positions?
It’s really important for young people to see people who look like them, but also people who don’t look like them, in technical leadership positions. They say if you can see it then you can be it so it’s vital for young people to know that it’s not just dead white men that have contributed to science and built the innovations that we see today. In turn, they themselves as young people can be creators of the future and innovators.
How can organisations across all industries benefit from a more diverse workforce?
Organisations can benefit in two ways. Firstly, you are more profitable if you have more diverse teams because you are more innovative and do better with the resources you have. Secondly, you benefit from having happier people within your organisation. If you have different types of people, it means you are more likely to be able to be yourself and bring your whole self to work. This means you will probably turn up to work more and give your best, which only happens if you have different types of people and people feel comfortable in their work environment.
Is there a difference between diversity and inclusion?
Diversity is having different types of people and inclusion is not just allowing them to be there or tolerating them, but having them be part of what you are doing.
What are the key messages you would like to get across?
The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed. These aren’t far off things, they are probably things that already exist and are being used around. But, many of these innovations haven’t been able to take off because we haven’t been inclusive or diverse around building them. So, its crucial that organisations - in terms of recruiting, promoting and retaining people - have the right kind of approach to inclusion and embracing diversity.
You have done so much but are still so young! Is there anything you aspire to do in the future?
My future goals are to make my work redundant, so we don’t need to continuously work to get girls and young women comfortable with wanting to be within the science and technology world. Otherwise, my long-term goal is to become a hermit and stay at home. Thank you, Anne-Marie! We can definitely see the appeal of being a hermit...
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