Joshua Oigara is the Group Chief Executive Officer of Kenya Commercial Bank (KBC), the biggest banking group in Kenya in terms of assets. His appointment in 2012 made him the youngest CEO of a blue Chip company in East Africa. Under his leadership the bank has seen tremendous growth rate. Mr. Oigara was not born with the proverbial silver spoon, he had to sweat it out to get where he is today. Joshua has shown his ability to lead and motivate people to achieve greatness and excellence. Starting as a village teacher earning Sh5,000 per month to one of the highest paid CEO in the region.
Age and Family
The CEO was born in 1975 in Kisii, Kenya. His parents-William and Diana Oigara-were both school teachers and tea farmers at the Gesima scheme in Borabu, where he grew up. They were not wealthy and his father told him the only legacy he can offer him is education.
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“ My father stressed time and again that the only inheritance he could give us was a good education,” Joshua told Daily Nation.
Marriage and children
There are no details about his wife but he has three children.
Excelling in education was a top most priority to him. Young Joshua was under a lot of pressure to excel academically, especially because his siblings who were ahead of him were doing well (one is a professor and the other a medical doctor).
“ I was never the loudest of kids. But I lived by one motto – doing my best is the only thing I have got. I see life as a marathon. When you are racing in the Olympics, you run knowing it’s the only race you have got and you won’t get second chances in that particular race,” he told the Daily Nation.
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His hardwork and determination saw him come top of the class. An accomplishment that made some people jealous of him. At one time, a jealous pupil burnt his books.
The KCB executive excelled, went to high school and completed successfully before joining the University of Nairobi (UoN) for a Bachelor of Commerce (accounting option) degree. UoN was instrumental in shaping him to who he is today:
“ UoN was my biggest break. I was the best student and had the privilege of being an official of the Finance Students Association and I also played a role in the (students organization) AIESEC,” Said Mr. Oigara during the interview
AISEC is the International Economics and Commercial Sciences Students Association.
In 1997, by the time he left university, he was a certified public accountant having taken his exams at the Strathmore University school of accountancy and he had four job offers.
He attended Edith Cowan University, Australia for his MBA.
Out of the 4 job offers, he chose PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) due to their amazing training program. PwC ranks as the second largest professional services firm network in the world and is considered one of the Big 4 accounting firms.
The young man left PwC to join Bidco in 2002 which is East Africa’s leading manufacturer of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG). Vimal Shah, an entrepreneur he admired prompted him to move to Bidco:
“ I was struck by Vimal’s move from university to Bidco, which was a family business. He went there with the ambition and plan to turn it into a multinational with a presence across Africa. It was a radical and aggressive move and I wanted to take part in the process,” explained the top executive.
Joshua was head-hunted by representatives of Bamburi East Africa, a subsidiary of Lafarge, the world leader in the building materials industry. Here, he was tasked with being the Manager Business Performance at the company’s Uganda subsidiary, Hima Cement Ltd. Then he became Group Controller and in 2008, the board appointed him Group Finance Director. Being the Group Finance Director was not an easy task for a young person as he recalls:
“ It was not easy going before a large board with the task of outlining and selling the company’s strategy at first. But when they found out I meant well and the strategy made sense, they fully supported me” Said the astute CEO
Some senior member really helped him in advising as well as criticizing. During his time at Bamburi, he gained a lot of experience and developed professionally.
Once again, he was head-hunted, this time by KCB. He joined KCB in 2011 and was appointed CEO, in 2012, at the age of 37, making him the youngest CEO of a blue Chip company in East Africa. He had obviously worked so hard to get there as he said in an interview with Daily Nation that this is what he wanted to achieve by 40:
“ My ambition was to be a CEO of a blue-chip company by the time I am 40 although at the time I’m not even sure I knew what exactly a blue-chip company was,” said Oigara.
During his term, KCB has really grown, with introduction of various services, like, KCB Mpesa.
The advice he gives young people is that there is no shortcut to success.
“ There’s no shortcut to success. You can’t just hope and pray. Hope is not a strategy. You must be willing to put in more time than everyone else to be better,” advised the educated man
The CEO is also an ardent reader. In the interview with Daily nation, the reporter noticed how clean his desk looked and also the variety of books on display. The books ranged from political to social and you’d wonder where does this busy man find the time to read. He creates the time and this is probably why he’s better suited to advise people to put in more effort than everyone else. He said:
“ People typically work for eight hours a day. I work more. They sleep for eight hours. I sleep less. Eight hours are typically wasted. I try to reduce that. I create an hour to read. People can write a thesis on why they can’t succeed but it’s better to look for solutions….” Read part of his statement.
This shows how determined he is to succeed. While people are resting, he finds a way to add value to his life.
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