Tidjane is an Ivorian banker who was the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of Swiss Bank Credit Suisse for 5 years (from March 2015 to February 2020). He was the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) of British Banking group Prudential for more than a year (from 2007 to 2009) and then its Chief Executive Officer until 2015. Born into a prominent political family in the Ivory Coast, Tidjane Thiam holds dual French and Ivorian citizenship.
He studied advanced physics and mathematics in France before joining McKinsey and Company way back in 1986, where he worked until 1994. For five years, he worked in the Ivory Coast 1st as Chief Executive of the National Bureau for Technical Studies. Following the Ivorian coup in 1999, he resumed a private-sector career and rejoined McKinsey in Paris for two years (from 2000 to 2002). He then worked as a senior executive for Aviva.
The Early Life and Education of Tidjane Thiam
Tidjane was born in Cote d’Ivoire or Ivory Coast on July 29th, 1962. Tidjane Thiam is a descendant of two prominent families from the Ivory Coast and Senegal. On his mum’s side, he’s a descendant of Queen Yamousso, after whom the capital of Ivory Coast (Yamoussoukro) is named. Marietou, Tidjane Thiam’s mother, was the niece of Chief Felix Houphouet-Boigny, the founder and 1st Head of State or President of Ivory Coast. Amadou Thiam, his dad and a journalist was born in Senegal and emigrated to Ivory Coast in the mid-20th century (1947).
He supported Houphouet-Boigny to fight for its independence and served more than a decade in the Ivorian cabinet after independence. Habib Thiam, Tidjane Thiam’s uncle, was the Prime Minister (PM) of Senegal for over ten years and served as the President of the National Assembly.
In 1982, Tidjane Thiam was the 1st Ivorian to pass the Ecole Polytechnique entrance examination in Paris. In 1984, Thiam graduated from the Ecole Polytechnique and 1986 from the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Mines de Paris, where he was excellent and top of his class. In 1986, he got a scholarship to study for an MBA at INSEAD and join the McKinsey Fellows Programme in Paris. He earned an MBA from INSEAD in 1988. In 1989, he took a 1-year sabbatical from McKinsey to get involved in the World Bank’s Young Professionals Program in Washington D.C. He got back to McKinsey in 1990, working 1st in New York and then in Paris.
Tidjane Thiam’s Personal Life
Tidjane Thiam was married to Annette Anthony Thiam, a black American lawyer who used to work for Joe Biden, the current President of the United States, and they have more than one son. Bilal, Tidjane Thiam’s eldest son, died of cancer in May last year (2020) at 25. Annette Anthony Thiam and Tidjane Thiam separated in 2015 and divorced the following year in 2016.
Tidjane Thiam also speaks English and German fluently apart from the mother language and French.
The Government Career of Tidjane Thiam
In December 1993, Felix Houphouet-Boigny, the 1st Ivorian President, died, and Henri Konan Bedie replaced him. In April 1994, Tidjane Thiam left France and McKinsey to return to Abidjan and become the Chief Executive Officer of the BNETD (the National Bureau for Technical Studies and Development). He was also handling primary negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in that role. Tdijane Thiam was a central member of the Privatization Committee, in-charge of privatizing extensive state-owned assets.
In August 1998, besides his role at the BNETD, where he became chairman, Tidjane Thiam formally joined the cabinet and got appointed as the Minister of Planning and Development. In his time or period in Ivory Coast, Tidjane Thiam promoted private sector involvement in infrastructure development. He implemented flagship projects, including the Azito power plant, the renovation of Abidjan Airport, and the Riviera Marcory toll bridge’s construction.
Tidjane Thiam promoted an extensive privatization program, which saw Ivory Coast lead African countries or states by privatizing its services, telephone, electric power generation, airports, railways, and several firms or companies in the agricultural sector. In 1998, the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos named him one of the annual 1100 Global Leaders for Tomorrow. In 1999, the Forum called him a member of the Dream Cabinet.
Tidjane Thiam at Credit Suisse (Resignation)
As stated earlier, Tidjane Thiam got appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of Swiss investment bank and financial services firm Credit Suisse Group AG on March 10th, 2015. After Thiam’s appointment was announced, the firm stock increased significantly (according to records of about 7.5%).
During Thiam’s 1st two years, he led the bank through a restructuring process, cutting jobs and expenses or costs. Tidjane Thiam’s compensation was over $9 million in 2016 and over $10 million the following year. Thiam’s pay was to be $11.2 million in 2017. However, it got reduced after shareholder backlash.
For 3 years (from 2016-2019), under Tidjane Thiam, Credit Suisse increased their wealth management business and generated net new assets of CHF121bn. Their pre-tax profit from wealth management increased double-digit for 4 years in a row.
In March 2018, Tidjane Thiam detailed a new profitability track for the company or firm by stating:
“We’ve been cleaning up a lot of unwanted trades that we shouldn’t have done. There’s no way to clean up the past, given the legacy, we have, without generating losses. We have profitable operations of the firm.”
In late 2019, he was involved in a conflict with Iqbal Khan. Khan accused Thiam of sending spies after him. The two got alleged to have fallen out over personal issues earlier on.
In October 2019, Credit Suisse cleared Tidjane Thiam of ordering the messed-up surveillance. On February 7th, 2020, Thiam resigned amid a power struggle that followed the spying matter. In a statement, Tidjane Thiam said:
“I did not know of the observation of 2 former colleagues. It undoubtedly disturbed Credit Suisse and caused hurt and anxiety. I regret that this happened, and it shouldn’t have taken place.”
Tidjane Thiam on International Development
In October 1999, James Wolfensohn appointed Tidjane Thiam as one of the 20 participants of the External Advisory Council of the World Bank Institute. The Institute depends on for guidance and advice. Tidjane Thiam is a member of the APP (Africa Progress Panel). It is a group of ten distinguished individuals who advocate at the highest levels for sustainable and equitable development in the African region. Every year, the Panel releases a report, the APR (Africa Progress Report), which outlines a matter of prompt significance or importance to the continent and proposes a set of associated policies.
In January 2011, Tidjane Thiam got appointed chairman of the G20’s High-Level Panel on Infrastructure Investment. Established by the Seoul G-20 Summit in 2010, the Panel was a grouping of figures from leading financial institutions and development agencies given the task of producing concrete suggestions to encourage private sector investment in infrastructure works in emerging economies. The Panel submitted its report to the G-20 Summit meeting in Cannes in 2011 (November).
In 2013, Tidjane Thiam was one of the authors of ‘A Partnership for the Future.’ A report prepared at the French Minister for the Economic and Finance request by 5 Franco-African and French economic and political experts.
Tidjane Thiam is a member of the United Kingdom Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group. Hf United Kingdom Trade Economic and Finance requesting Ambassadors. In November last year (2020), Rwanda’s cabinet appointed Tidjane Thiam to head the Rwanda Finance Limited’s board.
The Awards and Honors of Tidjane Thiam
Tidjane Thiam was the chairman of the Association of British Insurers between July 3rd, 2012, and October 1st, 2014. Tidjane is a participant of the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum. He was a non-executive director of the French chemicals firm known as Arkema until November 2009.
In 2007, the INSEAD Alumnus Association elected Tidjane Thiam as INSEAD Alumnus of the Year. Two years later (2009), he got nominated as one of the 50 Alumni who transformed the globe or world as part of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of INSEAD and it’s over 30000 graduates.
The yearly publication known as the Powerlist, which ranks the 100 most influential Africans in the United Kingdom, ranked him as the number one in 2011 and 2010.
In July 2011, the French authority awarded Tidjane Thiam the Chevalier of the Legion d’honneur to acknowledge or recognize his significant contribution to civil life for more than 2 decades.
In 2013, he got awarded the Grand Prix de l’Economie, which Les Echos and Radio Classique had organized, in partnership with a law company or firm, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.
In July 2018, Euromoney, a business and finance magazine, named Tidjane Thiam as Banker of the Year 2018, citing his radical 3-year plan that had reinvented Credit Suisse.
In conclusion, we might say that Tidjane Thiam is a great person due to the several awards and honors he achieved. We might also say that he is trying to positively impact the economy by promoting the private sector’s involvement in infrastructure development.