From earning Sh5,000 monthly to nearly Sh1 million per day — the incredible story of KCB CEO Joshua Oigara
Mr Oigara sits at the helm of East Africa's largest bank by asset base
Oigara was only 37 years old and his nomination was contrary to many people's expectations seeing that the job had been expected to go to a much older figure at an institution seen as the bank of choice for establishment elites.
However, six years down the line, Mr Oigara has proved his worth while maintaining KCB's status as the largest bank by asset base in East Africa and one of the most recognisable brands in the region.
“Right from a young age, 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 exactly what a blue-chip company was," he said in a past interview.
Growing up was not easy and his life story is one that many Kenyans are familiar with.
Oigara's parents were both schoolteachers and tea farmers in Borabu, Nyamira County. Their ambition was to offer their children the best education they could get.
He was under considerable pressure in primary school because his older siblings were outstanding students.
“I was never the loudest of kids. But I lived by one motto – doing my best is the only thing I have got.
He excelled in both his primary and high school studies before he was admitted to the University of Nairobi to study for a Bachelor of Commerce degree.
By the time he left college in 1997, Mr Oigara had four job offers. He, however, picked PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) owing to their excellent training programme.
The certified public accountant then swiftly rose up the corporate ladder which later saw him headhunted from his job to serve at multinational companies such as Bidco Africa and Bamburi Cement.
“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 I meant well and the strategy made sense, they fully supported me," Mr Oigara said regarding his role as Group Finance Director at Bamburi's Uganda subsidiary.
Bamburi helped contribute to Mr Oigara’s professional development as he obtained his MBA in international business management and also took part in several business development programmes while working there.
Eventually, KCB came calling and offered him a job as Group Finance Director for a while before being appointed CEO in November 12, 2012.
Coming from a humble beginning, Mr Oigara emphasized that his success has not come easy.
“I have had to work hard for the past 18 years in different companies and capacities. I started off as a teacher in my rural village, earning Sh5,000 a month."
As of 2017, KCB had total assets of Ksh646.7 billion and Ksh499.5 in customer deposits – a clear sign of the immense growth the bank has seen under Mr Oigara's helm.
Oigara is also one of the best paid executives in Kenya having earned Sh256 million for the year ended December 2017 or nearly Sh1 million per day.
His word of advice to those who aspire to achieve similar levels of success — be willing to put in the hard work.
“To run a business you don’t have to be a specialist. It is more of a job for a generalist. The CEO is a captain.
The key task for the captain is to inspire the team. It is not enough simply to get the degree in marketing or finance. One should be able to broaden their knowledge base considerably.”
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