Page last updated at 14:44 GMT, Friday, 20 March 2009

First black FTSE 100 boss at Pru

Tidjane Thiam
Tidjane Thiam joined Prudential from Aviva in 2007

Tidjane Thiam will become chief executive of Prudential in October, becoming the first black head of a FTSE 100 company.

Mr Thiam joined Prudential from Aviva in 2007 and is now finance director at the firm. He will replace Mark Tucker.

Originally from the Ivory Coast, Mr Thiam had previously been the country's Minister of Planning and Development.

Mr Thiam will be one of a limited number of ethnic minorities who are represented in the UK's boardrooms.

Earlier than expected

I hope Mr Thiam's achievements will inspire ethnic minority teenagers, entry-level workers and current employees to stand-up and be counted in the race for leadership
Sandra Kerr, Director, Race for Opportunity

On Friday, Prudential shares were trading up 5.6% on the news of Mr Thiam's appointment, and on the company's higher-than-expected results released on Thursday.

Prudential's operating profits were up 17% to £2.96bn in 2008, and it said it had strong reserves to weather the economic downturn.

Mr Thiam, 46, will take up the reins as chief executive on October after Mr Tucker, 51, announced that he would step down earlier than expected.

Mr Tucker has led the company for four-and-a-half years and has been at Prudential for 25 years.

Commenting on his appointment Mr Thiam said: "It is a privilege to be a successor. In the meantime, I'm the chief financial officer and I have a job to do, that is what I intend to focus on in the next six months."

"It is very significant because it sets a wider precedent," said Michael Eboda, the founder of Powerful Media, which publishes a list of Britain's 100 most influential black people.

"No one will see this as tokenism - he has an incredibly impressive curriculum vitae."


March 2009: Appointed successor to Prudential CEO Mark Tucker
Named second most influential black Briton in 2008
Chief executive, Europe at insurance giant Aviva
Partner with management consultants McKinsey & Company
Chief executive, National Bureau for Technical Studies and Development, Ivory Coast
Minister of Planning and Development in Ivory Coast government
Studied engineering in Paris and gained MBA from INSEAD

An avid Arsenal supporter, he studied engineering in Paris and obtained an MBA from INSEAD. Before working at Aviva for five years, he was employed at McKinsey's Paris offices.

Mr Thiam joins the few ethnic minorities such as Damon Buffini, boss of private equity firm Permira, represented in the UK's boardrooms.

"He is immensely charming," said ING equities analyst Kevin Ryan.

"He has a brain the size of two solar systems, he is a very, very clever bloke," he added.

Sandra Kerr, director of Race for Opportunity which campaigns for equality in the workplace, described Mr Thiam's appointment as a "watershed" moment.

"I hope that Tidjane Thiam's achievements will inspire ethnic minority teenagers, entry-level workers and current employees to stand-up and be counted in the race for leadership," she wrote in a viewpoint piece for the BBC News website.

"However, it should be remembered that Tidjane Thiam was born and educated outside of the United Kingdom. His success should not be claimed as a success for the promotion of ethnic minorities from classroom to boardroom in the United Kingdom".

Print Sponsor

Investment losses hit Prudential
19 Mar 09 |  Business

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific