Alumni Spotlight: John Gachora

Growing up in Kenya in a “modest peasant family” with 12 siblings, John Gachora WG02 came to the Wharton MBA for Executives (WEMBA) Program with a bit different background than most classmates. Now back in Kenya as group CEO of NIC Bank, a leading financial services provider in East Africa, he was kind enough to share details of his Wharton journey and career.WHARTON MAGAZINE: How did you come to study in the States and at Wharton?

JOHN GACHORA: I first came to the U.S. through an exchange program in high school with Brooks School in Andover, Mass. While attending the Brooks School, I became interested in and visited MIT because a friend from high school had gone there. When I returned to Kenya, I applied and was accepted with a financial aid package. I was the first of my siblings to attend college.

I went on to earn a master’s degree at MIT in electrical engineering and took a job with Credit Suisse in New York. When I became a vice president in the Asset Finance Division, I realized that I wanted to earn my MBA to better understand finance and organizational behavior, as well as gain more leadership and management skills.

WM: What were your highlights from Wharton?

GACHORA: One of the best parts of Wharton’s [East Coast] WEMBA program was indeed the people. It wasn’t uncommon to be discussing a case study and have a student in the class actually have been at the company at that time, which certainly added greater insight to the discussion. Other times, I’d read about someone in a textbook and then meet them at Wharton. The same thing was true of the faculty, who are often mentioned in the media and on Wall Street. To meet them in person and learn from them was a tremendous opportunity.

Another highlight was the enrichment from classes. I came in quite green in terms of people management, but when I left I felt like I could manage any group of people.

WM: Where have you been since?

GACHORA: I worked for two more years at Credit Suisse before moving to Charlotte, N.C., with Bank of America, where I became a managing director and head of the financial engineering team. Later, I was recruited by Barclays to work in South Africa as the head of corporate and investment banking for Sub-Saharan Africa. Last fall, I moved back to Kenya to become group CEO at NIC Bank.

Editor’s note: Find the original version of Gachora’s interview on the WEMBA Blog at: