Today Credit Suisse announced the appointment of a new CEO, Tidjane Thiam. He is currently the Group Chief Executive of Prudential, the British financial services firm made famous in 1850s England by its army of door-to-door salesmen who sold insurance policies to the working class population for premiums as low as one penny. These salesmen became known colloquially as the “Man from the Pru”.
Thaim was born into a prominent family in the Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) in West Africa. His mother was the niece of the first president Félix Houphouët-Boigny and a descendant of Yamousso, after whom the Ivory Coast’s capital Yamoussoukro is named.
Thiam was the first person from the Ivory Coast to pass the highly selective entrance examination to the École Polytechnique in Paris where he went on to study engineering and graduate top of his class. He also graduated with an MBA from INSEAD where he was later named INSEADer of the year in 2007.
After working for several years at McKinsey & Company in Paris and New York, he worked for the government of the Ivory Coast, reaching the post of Minister of Planning and Development before returning to McKinsey in Paris as a partner after a coup d’état in 1999. From 2002 he had leading roles at Aviva, the UK insurance company, prior to joining Prudential where he became CEO in 2009.
He is married with two grown-up children, speaks English, French, and German, and is a dual citizen of France and the Ivory Coast.
Tidjane Thiam replaces Brady Dougan, a US citizen who joined Credit Suisse First Boston in 1990 and has been CEO of the combined Credit Suisse business since 2007. Dougan will continue as CEO until the end of June 2015 when Tidjane Thiam will take over.