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Essex business leader encourages more women to go for senior positions

A business leader has spoken out about the importance of having "women that look like me in the boardroom".

Bolaji Sofoluwe, from Essex, is a managing director, board chairwoman and mentor with the UK Innovation Agency.

She made the Powerlist 2024 which celebrates "remarkable and inspirational black people in Britain".

She said chairing a women's forum was "one of my favourite things" as it tried to "get [women] to see that they can".

Ms Sofoluwe also worked to encourage more women into science, engineering, technology and maths (STEM) roles.

"Engineering is something that women don't tend to pick as their first choice of career... it's just traditionally male-dominated," she said.

"But there's lots of women who are suddenly becoming more interested in mechanical and electrical engineering which is why we're trying to catch them when they're young."

The women's forum is part of Ms Sofoluwe's role as chairwoman of BGEN International.

She added: "Being able to have their say, being able to contribute to company policy… woman are coming out of their shells and having a voice."

Ms Sofoluwe, who is also managing director of ETK Group, which works with African markets, was recently named in the Powerlist 2024 - a list put together by Powerful Media.

The list, which was created in 2007, this year named Edward Enninful OBE, the editor-in-chief of British Vogue, as the UK's most influential black person.

Ms Sofoluwe described being included on the list as initially "a little bit of an uncomfortable thing for me when I realised it was called the 'Powerlist' because I don't feel that powerful day-to-day".

But she said being recognised for her work to influence others "really meant something to me".

"The fact that someone was watching somewhere and decided to recognise the work we've been doing was just brilliant."

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