“Success is a meaningless word without failure. I have failed many times, but in every wrong turn, every misstep, there are important lessons. Embrace them.” This is from the wisdom of a great man called Herbert Wigwe.
Herbert Wigwe is the Group Managing Director (GMD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of one of Africa’s leading banks; Access Bank. He is not only an entrepreneur and a businessman, but also a philanthropist. Wigwe has transformed Access bank into one of Nigeria’s top five banking institutions because of his dedication, commitment, discipline, and expertise.
He was born in 1966 at Ibadan, Oyo state, to Pastor Shingle Wigwe; a retired Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Mrs Wigwe; a nurse. He first went to Federal Government College (FGC) Sokoto, before moving to Federal Government College (FGC) Warri for his secondary education. While at FGC Warri, Herbert was known as a brilliant student and avid cricket player, that even after he graduated in 1982, he is still remembered in the school for his cricketing skills.
Herbert Wigwe failed the first Jamb he wrote after his SSCE. So, in 1983, he wrote JAMB again, this time he was successful. He got admitted into the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) to study Accounting. In 1987, Herbert Wigwe graduated from UNN with a second class upper degree. Afterwards, he went for his NYSC program in 1988.
Furthermore, after his service year, Herbert got a job in Lagos with Coopers and Lybrand Associates Limited as a graduate assistant. While working at Coopers and Lybrand, Wigwe was also a student of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), and in 1989, he became a Chartered Accountant. As a chartered accountant, he resigned from Coopers and Lybrand then resumed work at Capital Merchant Bank as a credit analyst.
In 1990, he won the British Council Scholarship to do his masters at North Wales University (now Bangor University). In 1991, he got his masters in Banking and Finance.
After his masters, Hebert Wigwe came back to Lagos to work with Guaranty Trust Bank – a fast-growing new generation bank. Gradually, he grew through the ranks and became the Executive Director of the Bank at 32 years old.
Owing to his hunger for more knowledge in the financial sector, he went for a second master’s degree in Financial Economics from the University of London. Herbert Wigwe is also an alumnus of the prestigious Harvard Business School Executive Management Program.
Interestingly, in 2002, Herbert Wigwe and his close friend, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede were presented with a business deal of acquiring a small-scale commercial bank – Access Bank. Access Bank at the time was ranked as the 65th largest bank out of the 89 banks in Nigeria. Notwithstanding, Herbert and his friend Aigboje were ready to risk their blossoming career to revive the bank.They transformed the bank into one of the most successful commercial banks in the world and one of the top five banks in Nigeria. In 2015, The Banker’s magazine named Access Bank as one of the top 500 banks in the world.
Also, Herbert Wigwe has helped to develop some of Africa’s biggest companies in the construction, telecommunications, energy, oil and gas sectors through Access Bank. He developed a unique model that involves the understanding and provision of financial support and expertise to growing companies. Herbert has been working in the financial sector for about 30 years, serving as chairman of different boards. He was also named 2016 Banker of The Year separately by The Sun and Vanguard newspapers, two of Nigeria’s biggest newspapers.
Additionally, the HOW Foundation is a Non-Profit Organisation established by Herbert Wigwe to change and shape lives. The foundation has three areas of focus: health, education and empowerment. Herbert continuously designs programs and activities that ensure positive and measurable impacts are made in the foundation’s areas of focus.
According to the great man Hebert Wigwe, understand that taking risk is part of life, and in risk-taking, you either win or you lose. But then, stay optimistic and believe it would work out for good.