Born in Ibadan, Oyo state in 1966, Herbert Wigwe found his calling in finance at the age of 16. In 2002, he answered the lifelong call of entrepreneurship when he and Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede set out to acquire a small commercial Bank, Access Bank. Today, Access Bank is one of the largest Banks in Africa, a feat which is attributable to his ingenuity and expertise.
The CEO of Access Bank started his early life in Ibadan, Oyo State. This accomplished African business leader, born to Pastor Shingle Wigwe, who retired as a Director General at the Nigerian Television Authority and a mother Mrs. Wigwe who was a nurse, developed an interest in social development and community issues at a very early stage in life.
Herbert has always had a head for numbers, a fact he attributed to playing “mental mathematics” with friends while growing up. This game involved solving random mathematical questions; without the aid of a calculator.
His interest in finance which developed at age 16, was fuelled by the story of Michael Milken, high-yield bonds (junk bonds), among others.
A family focused man, Herbert is married to Chizoba Wigwe (nee Nwuba). Herbert and his lovely wife, whom he met when she moved back to Nigeria have since lived together happily. Her genuine smile and intelligence have remained some of the nourishing tonics for the marriage.
The couple married 5 months after meeting, their union is blessed with four children: Chizi, Tochi, Hannah, and David. Herbert is a devoted father and considers his family, “His greatest treasure.”
Despite his busy schedule, Herbert follows his children’s daily school progress and affairs religiously, regardless of his location. Herbert credits his ability to seamlessly balance the busy world of Banking and family life, to his wife, Chizoba.
First Entrepreneurial Venture
From his early 20’s, Herbert began what would become a successful career in banking and finance, his first entrepreneurial venture, would be his most successful.
In 2002, Herbert and his long-time partner and close friend Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede were presented with the prospect of acquiring a small-scale commercial bank, Access Bank. Herbert had spent over a decade in GTBank and was in-line to becoming the Executive Director in charge of institutional banking. To have even considered such a decision of obtaining what was then ranked the 65th largest bank in Nigeria seemed like career suicide.
Herbert and his partner seized the opportunity that was presented to them. In 2016, The Banker Database ranked Access Bank in the top 1,000 banks in the world.
Higher Education & Early Career
Herbert attended Federal Government College (FGC) Sokoto before moving to FGC Warri, he graduated from FGC Warri in 1982 and is fondly remembered not only as a brilliant student but as an avid cricket player.
Although Herbert failed the JAMB examination the first time in 1982, it never deterred him, he persisted and was successfully enrolled at the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) in 1983 where he study Accountancy, graduating with a Second Class Upper honours degree in 1987.
In 1988, Herbert completed the compulsory NYSC program, he would then land a job with Coopers and Lybrand Associates Limited in Lagos as a graduate assistant and was promoted within a year.
In 1989, Herbert passed his Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) professional examination and moved on to work as a credit analyst at Capital Merchant Bank.
In 1990, Herbert won the British Council Scholarship to study at North Wales University (now Bangor University). He earned his M.A in Banking and Finance in 1991. He returned to Lagos to join a fast growing new generation bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, gradually rising through the ranks to become an Executive Director at the age of 32.
Wigwe would go on to earn an MSc in Financial Economics from the University of London. He would also become an alumnus of Harvard Business School Executive Management Program.