On the 19th of September, female leaders honoured Founder/CEO, The Chair Centre Group, IBUKUN AWOSIKA, with a surprise event, as she was celebrated for her impact through the 360 Executive, 360 Woman, TFD and Life Series programmes, and also her achievements in the corporate and entrepreneurial world, including her recent appointment to the G7 Impact Task force. Interviewed by KEMI AJUMOBI, some attendees had inspiring words for her. Excerpts.
Ibukun Awosika, Founder/CEO, The Chair Centre Group
It is very rare to catch me on guard with a surprise, not even in my family, and I do it to others every time because I am a master planner of surprises. This is a real pay back. Tara Fela-Durotoye called me and reminded me that I was going to lunch with her after I got back from vacation, and the date agreed on was on Sunday, 19th of September, 2021. Here we all are today.I can honestly say to you all that you truly, truly, truly, truly, truly, truly touched my heart today. For every person that made the sacrifice to be here, my friends, my sisters and all.
Someone said to me while in London that I share so much about my life, and I said I realised that if I die, my experiences are useless in the grave but while alive, my experiences can help people make the most of their lives.
God always lines my path with angels, the ones who make the assignment possible for me.
My biggest project yet will be in Dubai 2022, as I am working on a pan African women leadership conference, which will be an annual event based in Dubai permanently. It will happen once every year, the last week of International Women’s Month, March, in partnership with Dubai Tourism and Dubai Events, on the 29th, 30th and 31st of March, and it is for women across Africa and in the diaspora, for women in Leadership. Women have power but they are in silos. There is an interconnectivity that is required to empower the African woman because, the change that we need has to happen but not in silos.
I am still overwhelmed by all the love, and I love every single one of you from the bottom of my heart. Trust me, whatever I can do at every point in time, I think you already know that I will do it, but even more than that because, what is very important is what you can do every time you have an opportunity to do it. So, If I have blessed you in any way, go and bless the next girl because that is how we change the world. God bless you.
Her Excellency, The First Lady Of Ogun State
We are here to honour a truly special person, Mrs Ibukun Awosika. A business tycoon, a mother, a mentor to millions of women around the world.
Many of us are fortunate to know her personally, and I tell you that to know her is to love her. I have known her for over two and a half decades, from the days of Pastor Bimbo Odukoya at Fountain Of Life Church, and also through a good sister of mine, Yewande Zaccheaus and another sister of mine, Mosunmola Odukale. I actually met Mrs Awosika through them. Mrs Awosika has been truly amazing. I had some challenges at that time and I wasn’t particularly close to her, and I remember that anytime I saw her, she always gave me a comforting look and hug that said a lot and meant a lot. Sometimes, she’ll squeeze my arms just to say something encouraging to me, and I knew exactly what she was saying and I really loved that.
You are tough, caring and disciplined, but I also want to tell you to relax and take care of yourself. You are generous of your time and investment in people. A few minutes with her makes us feel like we can conquer the entire world.
Joe Paterno says “Success without honour is an unseasoned dish…” It is not your birthday today, but we are celebrating your success and honouring you for the life of impact that you continue to make. It is my prayer that God will continue to guide you, and fill you with wisdom, that He will keep you in good health and prosper you in all your ways.
I will end with a quote from you “All we have is time, our lives are counted with the amount of time we are given, from the time of our birth, till the day we die”. Mrs Ibukun Awosika, you are a gift to our generation. We celebrate the time that we have with you. Thank you very much!
CEO, House Of Tara International
The surprise event is primarily to celebrate her for her impact through the 360 executive programme, 360 woman, TFD & Life Series programmes, however, we also decided to include celebrating her achievements in the corporate world and entrepreneurial world, with special emphasis on the most recent appointment to the G7 Impact Task Force. It is truly an impact appreciation cocktail in honour of my mentor, Mrs Ibukun Awosika, who has been of tremendous inspiration to me and many other women, some of them are represented here. I am honoured to have known her through the years, and she has been a pillar of support and encouragement. What better way to honour her than gather us together to say Thank You collectively.
Chief Commercial Officer at Mixta Africa
The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” — Steven Spielberg.
I am here today representing ladies from the 360 executive masterclass cohorts that launched in 2020.
In June 2020, 10 women ( now known as the “aseju” cohort), and who at that point were mostly strangers to each other, signed up to the inaugural 360 executive masterclass, hungry for inspiration, for connection, and in some cases, hungry for re-setting in so far as their careers, businesses and lives were concerned. More than a year later, scores of more women in subsequent cohorts have had their lives literally turned upside down (positively) from being part of this formidable force.
We have covered Leadership, practical for managing difficult situations, empathy, emotional intelligence, navigating work place politics and so much more. For many of us, we are just grateful to learn at the feet of Mrs Awosika. Given your busy schedule and globally impactful engagements, board roles, and entrepreneurial endeavours, it almost seemed unreal to have that opportunity to learn directly at her feet. For those of us who had sought for individual mentoring from you, this was even better than we could have hoped for, to glean from your deeply rooted wisdom, but also connect with other like-minded women to benefit. That is exponential impact, change happening by extension.
I mean, only in a celebration of Mrs A will you have a networking session. Even as she is being celebrated, she is still connecting. Mrs A, I don’t think you can even begin to quantify the ripples of impact we have had in motivating and empowering each other as a result of the 360 executive masterclass. We have laughed, cried, jubilated together and succeeded together. Our children have bonded, and our lives have become so intertwined that we have truly lived out the purpose for which 360 was born, a total holistic and robust experience.
Dr Omolola Salako
Consultant Clinical Oncologist, Pearl Oncology Clinic Lekki
On behalf of the 360 Woman cohorts, we wish to thank you Mrs Ibukun Awosika for pouring your words of wisdom into our lives. Many women here are professionals, entrepreneurs, medical doctors, bankers and more, yet we struggle. Despite our successes, achievements, entrepreneurial milestones, we sometimes struggle with our identity, have questions and are wondering about our next moves. We know Mrs Awosika would be there to guide us, to share her experiences and life lessons to trailblaze our self-discovery path. It is why several women gather every year in the ‘360 Woman’ to glean from your pearls of wisdom.
We are privileged to have been gifted life nuggets by Mrs Awosika
1. Life Resuscitation: A 360 Woman participant was at a crossroad, and she needed advice. Mrs Awosika’s words resuscitated her life with hope and courage to forge ahead to her truth.
2. Work-Life Balance: Another 360 woman learnt how to identify and gain equity with her stakeholders at home, family and the office. This helped her to balance her marriage, family obligations and work.
3. Now, I maximize my uniqueness and do not take my gifts for granted.
Every 360 woman is grateful to Mrs Ibukun Awosika and we love you so much.
Thank you for leading us to become the best version of ourselves.
We love you.
Marketing Director & Division Lead at Unilever
We write goals, we pen visions, we scribble aspirations. All of these becomes full circle when we can put a face and name to it. Mrs A is the embodiment of that person that gives the urge to keep going, keep moving, reach for more and don’t stop until you have emptied it all. All of yourself.
From Mrs A, I have learnt selflessness and chasing dreams that are bigger than me and not about me.
She’s given of herself, her time, her words, her care to nurture many in several expressions. All these she does with only one expectation, just one and nothing more, which is, as she says, “If I have been a blessing to you, then do these for others”.
The impact appreciation for Mrs A was another reminder. We came to celebrate a truly deserving icon, but we leave yet again inspired by her charge “Your track record is what you do every day and not what someone does with a megaphone in one day” she says. Thank you Mrs A for the daily, consistent acts, pointers and affirmations. You truly live a life of impact! Love you dearly.
When I had the idea to convert my book, The Smart Money Woman into a TV series, I thought the pairing of entertainment and financial literacy would be a no brainer for banks, but proposal after proposal, they didn’t buy into the concept. Then I took it to Mrs Awosika because I knew she was passionate about financial literacy and women. She was the chairman of First Bank at the time, and she looked at my proposal and thought it was a brilliant idea but if you know Mrs A, she’s very big on corporate governance, so it had to go through the marketing team at FBN. At this stage, there was a lot of resistance… many questions about whether I was capable of producing something on this scale because I had never done it before. I had also never written a book before and that did well but Mrs Awosika believed in me… she pushed for me against all odds, I saw her at Mrs Austen Peter’s birthday party a few days after the contract had been signed and all she said was “Just be excellent Arese”.
I promised her I would make her proud and Glory be to God, I did because in 24 hours, The Smart Money Woman became the No. 1 show on Netflix in Nigeria and Kenya.
Founder of TrainQuarters
In 2015, Mrs Awosika started to speak to young women within the age bracket of 25 – 35 under the umbrella of TFD Series.
There were 9 events in total and 350 pay-it-forward events. A pay it forward event is an event that a participant organises with her own network to share what Mrs Awosika taught. It was unconventional advice.
For those of us who were single at the time, she emphasised how it was important for us to get a sense of who we were before we got married, so that we could clearly articulate what to look for in a husband.
It was important to pick a partner who would support our dreams. Don’t just look for someone who is Rich, Dark and Handsome. Her famous words, “the son of a rich man is not a rich boy” made us laugh but it stuck.
Because of this, many of us went back home and committed to a lifestyle of self-discovery. We also rewrote the things we were looking for in a husband.
For those of us who were already married, she showed us how marriages of today were different. Women were now financially empowered, making their own money but unfortunately, were allowing issues around money to cause conflicts in their homes.
She reminded us that our husband was the leader of our homes, not the person making the most money.
Money was just a tool that can be used to achieve what God has ordained for the family, it should not be allowed to control the home.
Because of this, many of us went back home and reset our homes. Some of us had never invested in property before, some others had invested but gotten swindled. She encouraged us to come together and start investing. We formed the TFD Series Investment Club and 40 of us came together to purchase real estate in the Lekki Epe Axis. Today, 40 of us have real estate with title.
In addition to the things she said, we learnt from what she did. We noticed how in each of those events, she always had a separate chair for God. It was so symbolic. We all remember it. She showed us the importance of having God as our Chairman, submitting to Him, having Him guide us in our families, businesses, careers and other areas of our lives
We learnt kindness from the way she spoke to people irrespective of how successful she is, she is always kind and patient.
She spoke with such a burning desire in her heart, as if she wanted to pull out her heart, and say, “You ‘guys’ have to get it”. We saw the desire in her heart, and we say “Thank you Ma”.
The part that I really have to say as I conclude is that, if we just saw her on TV, on Social Media or in the news, she would have been enough inspiration. She is a role model, who has succeeded across the different areas of her life, but she didn’t stop there, she decided to teach us how she did it.
She showed up for those events despite her busy schedule, she was vulnerable and shared her stories with us, she listened to us and counselled us with wisdom, and she did these things consistently.
For this, we say Thank You!
Director at a Multinational Company
Today’s surprise event, a brainchild of Tara Fela Durotoye, is primarily to celebrate Mrs. Ibukun Awosika for her invaluable impact through several touch points.
I was at a WIMBIZ event where she spoke about 6years ago, and I told my friend sitting beside me that I wanted her to be my mentor. Her response was “Yeah…Yeah, join the queue with a thousand others”. I was however determined to reach out.
After a few more months watching her at various programs and reading about her, God gave me the opportunity to meet her in Abuja after an NESG program. I simply walked up to her to tell her what I gleaned from her presentation, and that I’d like to be mentored by her. We chatted a bit, and she gave me her number and gave me carte blanche to connect! I was cautiously over the moon…. (Wondering if this very accomplished woman will have time for me).
However, she walked the talk. She responded every time I reached out to her and took a keen interest in both my professional and family life. We met on a flight again and we chatted for almost two hours (nothing like a captive audience). From then on, she invited me to her important programs. When she invited me to join the 360-executive series, I did not miss a beat in accepting. It turned out to be a life changing event for me as I finally found my tribe of women!
The learning, the sharing, the prayerful bonding, and the growth my cohort and I have experienced in just over a year is nothing short of amazing, and will fill the pages of a decent novel!
So here today we have gathered to celebrate her impact on so many lives, Over 5000 lives/careers/businesses changed directly so far through: 10 Life Series events, 8 accountability groups
30+ cumulative weeks of post-event mentoring, 1 big heart filled with passion, love and a commitment to the next generation, and millions of lives touched across all spheres indirectly through her practical teachings, supportive mentorship and God given wisdom.
I say a very big thank you for this impact along with my other sisters who are all gathered here today as a show of love and appreciation for who you are to each one of them.
Daily, my chance meeting reminds me to go after what I want and never be deterred by the limitations others see.
I know each one of you could be elsewhere tonight, but you chose to celebrate Ibukun Awosika- I pray that the cloak of honour and grace shall continually be over you.
Global Personal/ Business Finance Coach and Chartered Accountant
My first encounter with Mrs Ibukun Awosika was through a business transaction of a client I was privy to. Her stance for accountability and integrity endeared her to me; even without meeting her one-on-one, yet.
Subsequently, I listened to her for the first time when she spoke at my Church, a few years ago.
I have since then heard her speak at various events, and to various categories of people.
Her message is evergreen, and always new. Her passion for the younger generation is undeniable.
She is an epitome of authenticity, genuineness and integrity. Her message of “To thyself be true“, resonates at different levels.
She is indeed a blessing to this generation, and the ones to come.
Process Manager and Chief Operations Officer at EdgeEcution Consulting
Mrs Ibukun Awosika has been an inspiration and a mentor (from afar) to me.
Her wealth of wisdom has helped me and so many others greatly by guiding us through the hurdles of life, career and business.
I met Mrs Awosika 3 years ago at the TFD Series; an event organised by Tara Fela-Durotoye.
I remember that she spoke, encouraging all women present to focus; not only on taking care of ourselves or raising a family, but also in investing in property and real estate.
This event, under her guidance, later morphed into an Investment club where we were able to begin our real estate journey to becoming Land Ladies.
Before that session with her, most of us didn’t know the first thing about owning real estate.
Mrs Awosika, not only caused a mind-shift but more importantly, she helped us to execute… what a blessing.
Since then, many of us have invested in real estate just because she told us it was possible.
I really appreciate her for the selfless ways she keeps giving of herself and sharing her knowledge with us; as well as the intentional ways she mentors the next generation.
One thing she always says is “Pay it forward” … so as she’s raising us, we’re paying it forward, by raising others.
Mrs Ibukun Awosika has been and is a blessing.
She’s truly loved and deserves every blessing.
As we watch and learn from her, we will be testaments to her mentorship as we in turn, raise many wise and successful women.