ANALYSIS: Thiam’s race to the Pru hotseat

Tidjane Thiam

Tidjane Thiam

Prudential announced today that Tidjane Thiam would be taking over as FD from
Philip Broadley in April next year.

“Tidjane who?”, might be the obvious question, but be under no illusions,
Thiam is one of the golden boys of finance and hotly tipped to graduate to the
ultimate appointment of blue-chip CEO in the future.

In November 2002, the Ivory Coast-born executive joined Aviva as group
strategy and development director, being given responsibility for Aviva’s
European operations by 2006 before taking executive control of the division in
May 2007.

But this meteoric rise pales into relative insignifance when you delve deeper
into his background.

He managed to ride out a coup in the late 90’s to further his career after
excelling in various disciplines.

Born on 29 July, 1962 Thiam holds engineering degrees from the Ecole
Polytechnique in Paris and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris,
from which he graduated top of his class, and an MBA from INSEAD, one of the
world’s leading and largest graduate business schools.

He began his professional career in 1986 in Paris as an international
consultant with McKinsey. From 1986 to 1994 he worked successively in Paris, New
York and several European Union countries. In 1989 he took a one-year sabbatical
from McKinsey with the World Bank in Washington, D.C. to participate in the
Young Professionals Program.

In 1994 Thiam was called back to his country to become the first Ivorian CEO
of the National Bureau for Technical Studies and Development, reporting directly
to the President and the Prime Minister.

In 1998 Tidjane Thiam was selected to be one of the annual 100 Global Leaders
for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum in Davos.

In August 1998 Thiam was appointed Chairman of the BNETD and Minister of
Planning and Development of Côte d’Ivoire, a position he held until December
1999. As such he was responsible for strategic planning, for coordination of
public investment in infrastructure and for poverty alleviation.

In recognition of his work he was named a member of the Davos World Economic
Forum’s annual 1999 Dream Cabinet.

In October 1999 James Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank, appointed
Thiam one of 20 members of the External Advisory Council of the World Bank
Institute in Washington, D.C.

After the December 1999 coup d’etat, Thiam decided to leave Cote d’Ivoire and
in May 2000, he was elected a partner by McKinsey, which he re-joined in Paris.

Thiam is believed to be one of only a handful of black FD’s, so his progress
in the upper echelons of the UK’s corporate sharktank will be closely watched.

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