Empower Sends an Employee to the Olympics to Compete in the Hammer Throw

By Kyle O'Brien 

As the Olympic Games get underway in Tokyo, one of the competitors will be representing not only her adopted country of Nigeria, but also the hopes of the agency she works for, Cincinnati’s Empower. That agency helped make Annette Echikunwoke’s dream of competing in the hammer throw possible, and it chronicled her progress with a five part video series, “Grind Before You Shine,” which drops its final episode today.

Echikunwoke is a search specialist at Empower but also a star athlete from the University of Cincinnati. She is competing for Nigeria, where her parents are from, in the track and field event as an homage to her heritage. Empower decided to not only sponsor her journey to the Olympics, but also track her progress with five videos that show the disappointment of having the 2020 games canceled, the training she went through and—in the latest episode—traveling to Nigeria to meet her teammates, officially qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games and prepare in the weeks leading up to the games.


Rob FitzGerald, Empower’s president and COO, said that the video series gives people at Empower a lot of pride and inspiration. “At its core the video series enriches a people-first culture at Empower while underscoring the key elements of achieving success. ‘Grind Before You Shine’ is a story about going the distance, embracing discipline and rewarding hard work. This mantra applies to the people at Empower on a personal growth level and client deliverable level,” he told Adweek.

Empower also partnered with the Aruna Project—an athleisure brand that, through the sales of its products and events it puts on, benefits survivors of human trafficking—in sponsoring Echikunwoke. She supports the project and the brand and was featured on the cover of a magazine sporting an Aruna duffel bag with a message about ending human trafficking, which inspired FitzGerald to include it in the video series. “Beyond being important to Annette, the Aruna Project is all about empowering women, helping people find their voice and independence, which directly correlates with Empower’s heritage and brand values.”

FitzGerald said that while the agency will be rooting for the U.S. in most events, “when it comes to hammer throw, you better believe we are cheering loudly and proudly for Nigeria.”

The entire “Grind Before You Shine” series can be seen on Empower’s website and its social channels.