His twitter bio reads “Choiseul Laureate and named Africa’s top 100 youngest and most influential economic leaders in 2014 by Institut Choiseul”
The man; Mr. Joshua Oigara. He serves as Group CEO of KCB Bank Limited, a position he has held since January 2013. He served as CFO and member of the Board of Directors of KCB from January 2012 to January 2013. Mr Oigara has many feathers in his cap, from serving as the current Chairman of the Kenya Bankers Association, Chairman of the Williamson Foundation, Executive Director and Group Financial Director for Lafarge East Africa at Bamburi Cement Limited, to Business Performance Manager at Hima Cement Limited, Group Business Performance Manager at Bidco Africa and to his initial years at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Impressive credentials, right? KCB is the largest bank in Kenya by asset base. Steering such a powerhouse demands a level of prowess, skill and uncommon savvy!
My interview with him wasn’t like any I’ve done before. This was evident right from my efforts to schedule an interview with him, which began in January this year. Someone asked me how I managed to connect with him and schedule an interview. Would you believe me if I told you it was as simple as using Twitter?
Sometimes I think us young people don’t effectively utilise Social media as best as we should. Social media is great to post selfies on Instagram, talk about your weekend on Facebook, shares memes and interact with friends. However I have come to realise that we can take it a step further and connect with diverse people and expand our circles. Leaders, entrepreneurs, and business executives have now gone digital. It really is as simple as that! So I sent Joshua a tweet. The interesting thing about twitter is that it limits you to 140 characters, so I had to sum up my message in 140 characters. (Chuckles). And here we are!
I felt more nervous than ever walking into his meticulous office on the material day. Our mothers always tell us to put on our best dresses, hold our heads high and flash the million dollar smile. That I did! J
I knew that this would be an interview unique in its own way. He inquired about me, wished to know what I did and what inspired the interview; it was engaging, refreshing and a challenging conversation. In fact I told him that the aim of this interview was to discover the man himself, devoid of the title and information in the public domain. A quick google search will yield phenomenal results of this man, his childhood, his accolades, and his rise to KCB CEO. So this interview will steer clear from that, and unearth who he is, his values and what makes him the man he is. I hope something in here inspires you, or triggers a spark in you to become the person you are destined to be. Enjoy:
I have one of the best teams. I am surrounded by some of the best minds; a brilliant team. I believe our culture has taught us to have the tyranny of “you versus me”. It is always a competition to outwit those around you. It is a push and shove aimed at outsmarting, outperforming and outshining those around us. But my fundamental question would be, why can we not replace this “you versus me” mindset with “you AND me”? Why can’t it be about teamwork, about working together and about growing each other? I believe this is a paradigm shift we need to have as a society.
I have always believed there is no shortcut to prosperity. It is sheer hard work. Earlier on in my career I undertook a program for Management Development at Duke University. While I was there I met one of the youngest CEOs. He rubbed shoulders with men twice his age, and still exhibited traits of a seasoned captain of industry. This greatly challenged me. Scaling to great professional heights is not a preserve of those with numerous years in their feathers.
Effort delivers outstanding results. You must make a conscious decision to follow the path you want. Growing up, my ambition was always “to be a CEO of a blue chip company by the time I was 40, although at that time I wasn’t exactly sure what a blue chip company was”. I have always believed background doesn’t define who you are; it is a platform to catapult you to unimaginable heights that you wish to achieve. My parents, William and Diana Oigara, were school teachers and rural farmers. My father believed the only inheritance we would get was a good education.
Over the years I have come to learn that you must be willing to do what you think you cannot do. You have to envision yourself achieving those dreams which your mind tells you that you cannot achieve. This will require you to have unmeasured ambition, ambition that drives you to put in the necessary hours; commonly known as the 10,000 hour rule.
In order to achieve greatness, we must begin to benchmark ourselves on a global level. Think global. It is important to benchmark yourself alongside those in your industry, but we have to go a step further and think regional, think global. This expands your potential greatly. Depending on the role you are doing, benchmark yourself against your regional and global counterparts. This puts a lot into focus, changes your perspective greatly and sharpens your drive and resilience. Let’s not think Kenya-wide. Let us challenge ourselves and think global!
Having heard such great insights, Joshua gave me the opportunity to ask him anything. I chimed in and asked that all-elusive question which we young people battle with “How do you discover your passion?” His advice was simple and yet so powerful;
In life, never do many things. Run a race to build on your strengths. Look for your passion, seek out your comfort and what you are good at, and be the best in it. Life is a God-driven purpose. We have to discover our God-given purpose in life, and fully focus on achieving that.
Joshua is a man passionate about young people. In his role as CEO, and outside of this role, he is a firm believer in the potential of the youth. He re-affirms that we need to be in the 2% bracket of people who categorically and without fear of ridicule or shame, go after our dreams. It doesn’t matter how long it takes and the opinion of others (which he reckons you will have to face along the way). What matters is having the drive and will to realise the dreams you have. Look around for the opportunities open to you, and go for them!
Joshua went on further to emphasize that when we are young we can be more aggressive with our time. At a young age, we have the most defining moment to build a more sustainable future. It’s important to surround ourselves with a good support system; choose your friends wisely as they are a definition of who you are.
His greatest advice to young people would be that we need more young people biased to doing more and talking less. The future belongs to Doers. Everyone has an idea, but there are few who decide to do something about it today and not tomorrow. Indeed we have a unique opportunity in this generation to build and realise more inclusive growth and shared prosperity.