Now (and this is a dangerous thing for a business journalist to admit) I have
to confess to not knowing much about Thiam, so I looked him up.
Here’s a flavour of his CV: Thiam was born in the Ivory Coast and is
currently head of Aviva’s European operation. Highly respected, he has been on
speaking platforms with luminaries such as chancellor Alistair Darling, his oppo
George Osborne and FSA chief regulator John Tiner.
He studied engineering at top schools in Paris and got his MBA from INSEAD.
He joined McKinsey in the early 80s, later became a partner and in 1998 was
named one of the 100 Global Leaders of Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum. The
WEF also cited him as being a candidate for a dream board.
He returned to the Ivory Coast and became minister for planning and
development after first being CEO of the country’s National Bureau for Technical
Studies. Following a coup in 1999, he left to rejoin McKinsey in Paris and then
joined Aviva working his way up.
Out of breath? I am. That’s an astonishing CV. There can’t be an FD in the
country, or anywhere for that matter, with a history like that.
You can see why he has moved. Under European embeded value accounting, his
division at Aviva made a profit of £1.1bn in 2006. The Pru’s EEV profits were
three times that. The record shows Thiam is obviously a very talented and
ambitious individual. Who would dare say that he will stop at being FD?
In fact you wouldn’t. Clearly this is a man who must be tipped for the top.
Group FD looks like staging post for the CEO’s job to me.
Gavin Hinks is editor of Accountancy Age
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