#IWD2018: Tory Burch Foundation & a Woman that inspires me to #EmbraceAmbition

As we celebrated International Women's Day, I reflect on the immediate women in my Life at this moment that spur me on for Ambition. The same Ambition that is looked down as a negative trait in women but "oh-so-positive" for the opposite sex... a trait most men have decided to beware of especially when picking a wife.


I remember back in college, when I would write the introduction for my CV for my very first internship, my roommate asked "Are you sure you want to place "I am an ambitious young economist?" because that is as aggressive and opinionated a woman can be. You may not get the job!" I bullishly submitted my CV and secured my very first internship at a project by the UN at the time. I later found out that the MD was a woman. That spurred me on... until few years ago, while working at a multi-national organisation, I had to delete my "ambitious tag" because I began to find it more under traits that portray weaknesses in women employees.

At first, I felt reprove for my former opinion that ambitious women were phenomenal. My role model, Magaret Thatcher's whole existence screams "Ambitious" so I interpreted ambition as a zest to achieve all my dreams. I became dedicated to work hard for it but people started making me feel like it made for a very bad colleague until my first interaction and lengthy discussion with TCJ, former EGM at a multi-Corp. I had never seen ambition so wildly voluminous in a woman who had years of achievements behind her with a very lengthy CV to show for it. Yet she felt she was just starting to take over the world. That was it, I boldly space-barred my "Ambitious" back into the equation with full force.

Now, Mrs. Olatowun, popularly known as TCJ, is my mentor and she recommended me for a feature at the Tory Burch Foundation website for the #EmbraceAmbition campaign and there has never been a bolder season in Life to be alive.

Olatowun Candide-Johnson

embrace ambition TCJ Tope Hassan

TCJ, as she is popularly known, was General Counsel, Executive General Manager, Management Services Division and Chief Compliance Officer at TOTAL. She was the only woman on the EXCOM committee as at the time she retired. By the age of 50, she completed the Trium MBA from HEC Paris, London Business School and NYU STERN while managing a very demanding job at Total. She then retired and went on to found her company, VOLTAIRE, a catalyst platform for all emerging creatives to showcase their work before an audience not easily attainable. She is also currently building an incubation club for girl bosses to access a safe space to work, play and network on a small budget while buidling their valid dreams.


Dear TCJ,

You encourage me to embrace ambition because you score beyond skyscraper points in every aspect of being a Woman as a Wife, Mother, Role Model for Women, Career Woman, Entrepreneur, Global Citizen, Charisma, Appearance and Intelligence.

Your actions are a silent force that drives every woman to believe she can have it all. As a Leader, you have not only stood for yourself but also for other women sharing your experiences all the way and never afraid to deal with risks or seeming failure balancing all aspects of Life to achieve your purpose.

More so, I am awed that you see me not in my present state but the future pan-African Leader that my future woman has become and with genuine support, you celebrate that journey whenever you have the chance to catch up with me.

So here is to you and all the days you quietly watch me as an Eagle does its eaglet, pushing resiliently towards my dreams, adjusting my sails, learning, falling, relearning, unafraid to dream bigger because you have been there, earned your seat at the garden of men and are disrupting a new space for Entrepreneurs. These same places that fill my ambition.

Thank You !
— http://www.toryburchfoundation.org/embraceambition/

Who inspires you to #EMBRACEAMBITION?


Tope Hassan, the multi-lingual Global African entrepreneur,  is the Founder of ISOKO AFRICA. She is an African Tourist, a Praticing Yoga Teacher, Advocate for African Brands and Public Speaker. She produces a weekly podcast on Midas Radio, iTunes Podcasts and Podcast for Android. She is dedicated to adding value to Afrca through her organisation, ISOKO Africa by exporting African brands to the global marketplace gaining them recognition and increased sales.

Tope specializes in Compliance & Public Relations to create multi-dimensional business systems where start-ups and multi-national companies can operate fairly in a corrupt free environment and standardized economy. You can follow her daily updates on her handle, @OfficialTopaz on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.