Growth is only possible when you maximize your capacity. Level up and Elevate - Bralade Koroye-Emenanjo
I recently read an article titled, "The Lack of Diversity in STEM Stops With Us" and even though she didn't write it, the first person that came to my mind was Bralade Koroye-Emenanjo!
As a equity and inclusion champion, Bralade has passion for impacting the world so that all of it's citizens can be the best version of themselves. She is a well spoken, thought provoking, Engineering Leader and she is one of my go to inspirational people of all time. Whether it's speaking at conferences, letting her voice be heard on podcasts, or even leading her team at Dow Inc., she has an unwavering ability to motivate people, while also challenging us all to want better.
Bralade's most impressive quality is that she's just getting started. She is a magnetic force that has a precious gift of stellifying the next generation of professionals! It was truly an honor to capture a few of her perspectives on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics), Inclusion, Personal Expression, and Challenging the Status Quo. Enjoy!
Bralade Emenanjo earned her Bachelors & Masters Degrees in Chemical Engineering from Nigeria & Northern Ireland. At Dow Inc, she is the Analytical Operations Leader for Plant B in Texas Operations. She has prior experience in process and production engineering and technical service & development in R&D.
Bralade is an inclusion and STEM advocate. She volunteers and plans outreaches for schools in the area, with a focus on sustainability. She is involved with employee resource groups and is currently a Women’s Inclusion Network’s Site Implementation Leader. On these platforms, she has initiated programs and led impactful events. She created Texas Operations flagship programs for Black History Month and the International Women’s Day to celebrate progress and challenge bias. Bralade also recruits for Dow from the Society of Women Engineers, where she also serves as the African American Affinity Group Lead.
As host of the Stellify Podcast, she helps people maximize their gifts and abilities to impact their world. She lives in the Houston area with her three children and husband, Obi.
Q: You are such an inspiration to so many professionals and your Stellify Podcast enables you to stretch across digital horizons to share these inspirations. What was your motivation for creating this platform?
Bralade: Thank you so much. I have always believed no one person can be defined by just the one thing. That we are all multi-talented and gifted in some way. Our fulfillment and impact lies in living up to the fullness of these abilities and aspirations. That is the reason why I started the Stellify Podcast.
To Stellify means to turn into stars. I sincerely believe that everyone has star quality and with the right information and tools, they can maximize their potential and deliver value to society. Many people talk about success, but the higher calling is significance when your success transcends you and impacts people positively.
On this podcast, I interview people I tagged Impactpreneurs. These are individuals who have a mainstream career but are in the business of impacting the world, in some way. It may be an actual business or a nonprofit but the end goal is to improve the lives of citizens.
I have interviewed lawyers who also run a book club for children, featuring countries from around the world and providing cultural enrichment. Another one is an engineer who provides a platform for African female engineers in the diaspora.
It gives me great joy and it inspires our listeners to do the same with their own unique ideas and gifts. It lets them know their ideas are valid. Much like Shadrach is doing with re.engineer today.
Q: From being a supermom/wife to leading a technical services organization to being a STEM ambassador to championing Equity and Inclusion, how do you prioritize it all and still accomplish your goals?
Bralade: STEM is a field of expertise that I have worked hard and been blessed to have a career in. It is the bedrock of all civilization and the advancements we make in the world today. That is why I have a bias for engineers and a passion for STEM.
However, people are at the heart of any discipline and when I determine priorities, they are top of the list. Even safety which we all consider #1 is to ensure that people are safe and out of harm’s way.
I do not consider that I have a choice to not be engaged in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Not as a black female engineer in the United States. Because of my intersectionality, I have experienced the stereotypes and discrimination that come with the system that has remained largely unchanged until recently.
The representation of minorities in STEM is still lacking even with increasing intervention. There is yet more to do to recruit into engineering schools and significantly more to retain talent in STEM fields. I consider it my duty because representation matters. We who have a seat at the table can influence the status quo.
Thankfully, my company and work group is supportive of the initiatives I engage in. It helps the industry and ultimately brings value. It helps me be a better mom and wife to my three kids and dear husband. That is what leadership and giving back does for you.
Q: What has been the most difficult challenge you’ve had to overcome with becoming a STEM professional?
Bralade: The culture shock. I studied in Nigeria and in the United Kingdom before moving to America. There are several cultural differences on so many levels that may set one up for failure, if awareness does not dawn.
For example, in my country, we keep our heads down, do a great job and expect to be recognized. However, in the US, one is expected to self-promote, negotiate salaries, self-advocate, challenge the status quo and so on.
It was hard for me to adjust especially since I saw no one like me initially. All of these experiences have made me a lot more compassionate and intentional about mentoring. If I had a mentor early, I would have come up to speed earlier and the workplace would have been easier to navigate.
Q: We believe that our personal expressions should translate into how we operate as business and community and leaders. We call it “Bringing Your Whole Self” into any situation. How do you ensure that you are authentic to yourself and your work?
Bralade: I talk. I talk with my accent. I talk my experiences. I share my cultural biases and my faith. I share my outlandish ideas. I even share my hesitations and uncertainties. I advocate, whether or not my ideas are received or implemented. I let my voice be heard because I am a member of the team. I take my influence and impact seriously and I pursue them with fervor.
Ultimately and respectfully, I let myself be seen and heard. I believe that we diminish if we are inauthentic. The worst part is, we get to live with the guilt and unfulfillment. So, show up, sure and secure, with all of you. The rest of us can either take it or leave it.
Q: Your life experiences have taken you all over the world and your natural leadership abilities shine everywhere you go. What advice would you give to other young professionals or students looking to take their career or education to the next level?
Bralade: You are enough. You are worthy. You are valuable. You are significant.
First, accept this identity. And then get to work on your goals and achieve your aspirations. If you don’t accept who you are, then everything else you do will be trying to prove a point. You can fail but pass the next time around. Failure does not define you.
Mistakes are normal for anyone who is genuinely contributing. I dare say it can be a sign of innovation. Do not let it define you. Remember that you are already enough and valuable.
You may be an engineer but there are a lot more gifts and talents in you. Find expression for them in associations and organizations. Create that business or service you know you were born to do. You can start where you are. Keep your life balanced but exciting. Make an impact.
Build a tribe, more like a board of directors. You will need them and they will need you. Don’t be alone in the corporate world. You do great work, you deserve some cheerleaders. You also deserve to be set straight when you go off course.
Give yourself an identity check anytime you face hurdles. Most importantly, keep keeping on. The future belongs to you.
Q: At Re.engineer, we believe in challenging the status quo. Tell us about the most impactful opportunity you have conquered.
Bralade: I am most excited for exploring the use of post consumer recycle in my role as a Technical Service & Development Engineer in Plastics and Specialty Packaging. We all know that plastic waste is one of the challenges of the climate. Some of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals are Sustainable Cities and Communities, Responsible Consumption and Production and Climate Action.
All of these are important to me as a global citizen. I would often ask myself how I can close the loop of plastic waste so it would not end up in the seas or landfills. I found that I could educate people, especially elementary school about the benefits of plastic so they did not have the single story. Seeing their bright eyes and minds open as they learned about reusing and recycling plastic is a sight I treasure still. I know they are the future innovators and probably will come up with the solution for sustainable, affordable, effective packaging.
I also helped evaluate post-consumer recycle products in trash bags. Working for a material science company offers me access to conduct world class research. I was able to show that performance held with significant levels of PCR to virgin ratios. This provides options for our customers to be more sustainable as well as profitable. As the largest plastics segment in the industry, this would help minimize plastic waste.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
Bralade: Making room and space for the ones who come after us. I believe our legacy should be that they do not have to face the same challenges we did but will be free to show up, innovate and deliver value.
Impacting the world and rallying others to do same. If we all did our bit, our world would be a more peaceful and prospering one. Sounds cliché but it’s an ideal worth aspiring to and working towards.
The Stellify Podcast: thestellifypodcast.buzzsprout.com