“I know this might sound shocking but I wish a list like this did not have to exist. It is a sign that we do not live in a perfect society.” – Tidjane Thiam, the first black person to head a FTSE 100.
Tidjane Thiam, the first black person to head a FTSE 100 company (the 100 most highly capitalized companies in the United Kingdom), was born in Cote d’Ivoire on July 26, 1962. Thiam spent most of his childhood in Paris, France. In 1984, he received an engineering degree from the École Polytechnique and, in 1986, a degree in civil engineering from the École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris, where he was top of his class.
In 1988, he earned his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from INSEAD, an international graduate business school and research institution. In 1994, Thiam was appointed the head of the National Bureau for Technical Studies and Development for the government of Cote d’Ivoire and in 1997 he became president of the National Council on Information Super Highways and national secretary for Human Resources Development. In 1998, he became Minister of Planning and Development where he oversaw the construction of the first privately-financed power plant in Africa. In 2008, Thiam was appointed finance director at Prudential plc and a year later was named Chief Executive Officer.
In 2010 and 2011, he was named the most influential black man in the United Kingdom.
Thiam is a member of the Africa Progress Panel, an independent authority on Africa to focus the attention of world leaders on delivering on their commitments to the continent.
The Akosua Report: Facts on The African Diaspora, is written by Akosua Lowery. Follow her on Twitter @AkosuaLowery.