Fordham Law

Global Connections: Gary Wigmore '82

July 25, 2012

Fordham Law alumnus Gary Wigmore '82 always has had a keen eye for new business opportunities. In fact, that's what led him halfway around the globe to Asia where, for more than two decades, he has practiced project finance law as a partner in a leading international law firm.

After delivering a speech in Jakarta in the early 1990s, he returned to New York and told his colleagues at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP that Asia's expanding economy presentedGary Wigmore '82 exciting business opportunities they simply couldn't overlook.

"It was the beginning of the roar of the 'tiger economies' in Singapore and Southeast Asia," Wigmore said. "I told them that we shouldn’t follow our clients to Asia; we should lead them there. We should be on the beach when they arrive, knowing how to help them develop and finance large projects."

Asia's need for "infrastructure projects"—power, oil, gas, roadways, bridges, and rail systems—presented rich opportunities for U.S. businesses and for Wigmore's firm to identify ways to finance them with private sector funds.

What Wigmore wasn't expecting was his firm's offer: an opportunity to move to Singapore to expand his firm and tap this emerging market. So he and his wife, Lori, and two young children, Andrew and Heather, set out to Asia, where they've lived ever since.

Business in Southeast Asia boomed, and Wigmore and his team handled project financing throughout the region—in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, India, the
Philippines, Vietnam, and China. What was supposed to be a two- to three-year assignment turned into a 20-year career overseas. "It's been an unexpected but satisfying journey," he said.

Wigmore attributes a large part of his good fortune to Fordham University, where he earned his law degree in 1982. "Fordham opened up doors and provided a forum where I learned a set of skills that made firms such as J.P. Morgan and Milbank Tweed consider me for these opportunities," he said.

His Fordham Law degree capped his graduate education in management science at Carnegie Mellon University and undergraduate studies in psychology at SUNY Oneonta. It also provided the foundation for him to pursue a career in international law.

A deep appreciation for the opportunities that unfolded through his connections to Fordham—from his first job in banking at J.P. Morgan, a position his classmates encouraged him to pursue, to practicing law on Wall Street and in several other major world financial centers—is evident in the many ways Wigmore supports his alma mater.

His recent generous gift to Fordham Law's Center on National Security was inspired by gratitude, he said, and informed by his 30-year career. "Being an expatriate in Asia has had a profound impact on the way I view myself, the United States, and our global community," Wigmore said. "It has deepened my appreciation for the freedoms we Americans often take for granted, and has sensitized me to how vulnerable we are to having these freedoms taken away."

Established in 2011, the Law School's Center on National Security engages in research, policy work, and public education about national and global security issues.

"Mr. Wigmore's gift is a tremendous boost to the mission of our center," said Karen Greenberg, Ph.D., the Center's director and a noted expert on national security, terrorism, and civil liberties. "It will support research and public events, and all efforts of the center as we confront national security issues through the next decade."

Wigmore added that he is encouraged by Fordham Law's commitment to the study of national security since he believes that "we can overcome most challenges with reason and open debate and scholarship." He also applauds Fordham Law's increasingly global programs in humanitarian and international law. "These initiatives are among the reasons Fordham's reputation is growing, and it's why I am proud to be an alumnus and supporter."

In the same way Wigmore helped to build his firm's presence in Asia 20 years ago, he is expanding the reach of the Fordham Law Alumni Association. As president of its new Hong Kong chapter, he hosted the group's inaugural event, which attracted more than 30 alumni to the China Club in Hong Kong. Wigmore—who traveled to New York in May to attend his son's graduation from Fordham Law—is excited about helping students and alumni connect with peers around the globe. "Creating and developing networks has been important in my life," he said. "It's not only professionally productive, but personally satisfying."