I won’t take no for an answer

When Ife Tokan was rejected as a delegate for the Powerlist Foundation and Deloitte Leadership Programme (PFDLP) in 2014 he refused to believe he was going to miss out on such a golden opportunity.

Ife had looked at the Powerlist Foundation website, viewed all the positive posts on social media about it and the PFDLP and researched the Trustees of the Foundation. He was so determined to attend the PFDLP that his intention was to turn up anyway, fully prepared to be marched off the premises by security. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that because Veronica Martin, the Powerlist Foundation CEO, notified Ife that someone was unable to attend and he would get a coveted place after all.

He found the PFDLP was “absolutely mind-blowing” and was “buzzing all the way through it” because he made so many new friends and was so inspired by the speakers. A presentation touching on black heritage, by Dr Gbadebo Ogunlami stood out as the most memorable for Ife.

He learnt most from attending the PFDLP that “you can achieve if you work hard enough, no matter where you’re from or what race you are”. He enjoyed hearing about how the speakers “got to where they are, it was a very, very powerful thing to hear”.

The following year he returned as a ‘buddy’ at the PFDLP and continuously helps build awareness of the Foundation. His involvement also includes helping potential delegates with their applications.

Ife cannot help at this year’s PFDLP but he is always trying to increase the number of events the Foundation does. He would like to see it become more diverse and forge links with other organisations.

He graduated last year from the University of Nottingham with a degree in Finance, Accounting and Management and now works for Atkins, a management consulting firm based in London. For the past four months Ife has worked in Birmingham. He does not mind the travelling aspect of the job and is enjoying hotel life for the time being.

Eventually he wants to follow the Powerlist Foundation motto of ‘sharing success’ by going into politics in Britain initially and then in Ogun State in west Nigeria.

The 24-year-old Londoner went to school in Nigeria so knows life well in both cultures.

He has glowing praise for Veronica Martin who he calls “amazing”. He adds, “She is one of those mentors who you can always talk to and bounce ideas off. She is very humble and loves to help young people. She fits in with the vision of the Foundation. What she does is all passion. She is tremendous and very supportive.”

In the future, besides more Foundation events and partnerships, Ife would like to see more diversity and he is looking forward to seeing what PFDLP alumni are doing in 5-10 years’ time when many will be in their thirties and have risen up the corporate ladder or created successful enterprises. “It will be interesting to see if my generation really are leaders in our fields,” he says.

Ife is certainly capitalising on what he gleaned from the PFDLP having co-founded the African Youth Initiative, an organisation that promotes African culture, awareness and interaction. The Initiative hosts an annual dinner every December with high-achieving speakers inspiring the guests.

He also finds the time to advise other millennials. “You just have to find your passion and whilst you’re young you might as well make the best of your time.” Wise head on young shoulders.