First African to Lead a FTSE 100 Company, Tidjane Thiam (Côte d’Ivoire) is New CEO of Credit Suisse


A Top African “Player”

Last week, one of the oldest and largest banks in the world; Credit Suisse, named Tidjane Thiam, an African from Ivory Coast, as its new CEO. It made headlines around the world. It was easily the biggest news of the corporate world last week.

Even before his appointment to this role, Tidjane was the first and only African national to head up, a company in the top 100 of the companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. Now he has been appointed to an even bigger position.

Tidjane is a remarkable player; he is to the corporate world what Didier Drogba, or Samuel Et’o was to soccer. Being an Arsenal supporter he would no doubt want me to include Thiery Henry!

In order to be able to build businesses, that will become as big as Credit Suisse, we need to recruit and retain professional managers and executives “players”, that can play on the global stage like Tidjane.

Yes, some of you will be the entrepreneurs that start businesses, but we also need a management corp, of professional executives who can build them into big businesses, that will span generations.

Africa, has a lot of entrepreneurs, who can start businesses, but we have a big shortage of more Tidjane Thiam’s. Let’s celebrate his achievement, and let it inspire the next generation of African professionals… YES WE CAN!

Read the Prease Release from Credit Suisse here


Tidjane Thiam, born in Côte d’Ivoire in 1962, was the chief executive of the London-based international financial services group Prudential plc. He previously served as chief financial officer of Prudential from March 25, 2008 to September 30, 2009.

Mr Thiam spent the first part of his professional career with McKinsey & Company in Paris and New York, serving insurance companies and banks. He then spent several years in Africa where he was chief executive and later chairman of the National Bureau for Technical Studies and Development in Côte d’Ivoire and a cabinet member as Secretary of Planning and Development. Mr Thiam returned to France to become a partner with McKinsey & Company and one of the leaders of its financial institutions practice before joining the British multinational insurance company Aviva in 2002. He worked at Aviva until 2008, holding successively the positions of Group Strategy and Development Director, Managing Director of Aviva International, Group Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Europe.

Mr Thiam is a member of the council of the Overseas Development Institute in London and a sponsor of Opportunity International, a charity focusing on microfinance in developing countries. In January 2012, he was appointed to the UK Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group and he has been a member of the European Financial Round Table since January 2013.

Mr Thiam holds engineering degrees from the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris (top of his class), and an MBA from the French business school INSEAD. A national of both Côte d’Ivoire and France, he was awarded the rank of chevalier of the Légion d’honneur by the French government in July 2011.