The East London entrepreneur helping women reach the top

Sonia Meggie, founder of Inspirational You Pic: Sonia Meggie

Sonia Meggie, founder of Inspirational You Pic: Sonia Meggie

Lewisham businesswoman Sonia Meggie has ambitious plans for women in 2016. Eastlondonlines talks to the founder of two thriving businesses in the area.

Sonia Meggie, founder of Inspirational YOU, exudes calmness, confidence, and assertiveness at the company’s annual diversity master class, “Women at the Top”. Her goal is to get more women to the top in every area of the nation’s life.

Meggie is from London borough of Lewisham and besides Inspirational YOU, runs an accessories business, FunkyNChunky.

Inspirational YOU is a membership organisation delivering training and talks for women, start-ups and students. The company will return this month with the annual Time to raise the Bar master class and is also starting a Saturday School and seeking mentors for young people.

FunkyNChunky was established in 2014 after Meggie completed her MA degree in Digital Media in 2014. After a visit to Ghana, she has spent much time meeting and networking with local designers and entrepreneurs to form partnerships to launch her brand in the UK.

Donating a percentage of the profit, Sonia has supported a Saturday School in South West London and families who are unable to provide their child with their academic progression.

Also she is proud to be mum of a teen daughter, who achieved silver in the ISA 75 metres 2014 Championship and is deputy head girl and sports captain at her school. Being a mother and running business at the same time must be tough, she emphasized: “That’s not an impossible mission. It’s just a matter of balance.”

Meggie started her career as a Unix Programmer and left as she was frustrated at being the only female and black woman in each department. She founded Inspirational YOU, an education and information social enterprise, in 2010 to support and empower professionals and young people with their hopes and careers. The organisation runs workshops and talks in partnership with local businesses and entrepreneurs.

L-R Sonia Meggie, Sally Bolton, Dearbhla Walsh, Jackie Ronson, Aicha McKenzie, Heidi Alexander, Sandra Federighi, Xuefei Yang, Vinita Rathi Pic: Heejeong Jo

L-R Sonia Meggie, Sally Bolton, Dearbhla Walsh, Jackie Ronson, Aicha McKenzie, Heidi Alexander, Sandra Federighi, Xuefei Yang, Vinita Rathi Pic: Heejeong Jo

Woman at the Top was the fifth masterclass, held at the end of last year, with panels made up of leaders and representatives from business and industry. More than 100 people turned up to the House of Commons to take part

Meggie said: “Lewisham has some of the highest rates social deprivation within some of its wards and we wanted to connect with local people to demonstrate that they can excel and work alongside any of the speakers on our panels.”

Panels included Sally Bolton, managing director of the London 2017 International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships, Sandra Federighi, global chief finance officer of Stella McCartney, Aicha McKenzie, founder of AMCK Management, Vinita Rathi, former vice-president at Goldman Sachs, Jackie Ronson, digital director at EE, Dearbhla Walsh, television and film director and Xuefei Yang, a classical guitarist. They were invited because of their commitment to helping other women and because of their inspirational back-stories.

They all came from different socio-economic background and all worked within sectors dominated by men at the top.

“They all share my philosophy,” said Meggie. “They were all able to provide examples of how they had overcome hurdles and challenges within their career and most importantly were trying to open doors for others.”

She aims to step in where women lack confidence or industry contacts, helping them to fulfill their potential and providing the resources for them to do so.

“We want to see more women in senior roles, securing mentors and sponsors in order to progress within their chosen career and to give them the confidence to follow their passion or start a business.”

Pic: Sonia Meggie

Sonia Meggie and her team for Inspirational You Pic: Sonia Meggie

Woman at the Top is supported by Heidi Alexander who is MP for Lewisham East. The two women have known each other since Alexander was a local councillor.  Meggie said she admires Heidi’s “tireless” works to help her local community.

“Heidi is a staunch supporter of seeing more women in Politics and senior roles. We both share the same ethos of empowerment. She has been proactive is doing all that she can to empower community groups and social enterprise organisations like Inspirational You to help local residents.”

The key point of Meggie’s philosophy is women have to be “collective” in their efforts to progress any cause and overcome hurdles. She encourages more women to be their own boss, so they can dictate the pace of their career and have the flexibility to manage their lifestyle in a way that is suitable for their family.

Meggie keeps moving forward and progressing for women and girls as long as she can. “What I really want to say to women and girls is never be afraid to ask for help. It’s the key for solution. I will keep inspiring others and pay it forward.”

More details on Twitter.

Follow HeeJeong Jo on Twitter: @jeong_7

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