THE MAN FROM THE PRU: Tidjane Thiam was honoured to top the Powerlist for a second year running
THE CHIEF executive of one of Britain’s FTSE 100 companies has topped the definitive list of the country’s most influential black people for the second year running.
Prudential boss Tidjane Thiam was the Powerlist judging panel’s unanimous choice for the number one spot after another successful year in his remarkable career.
It was chaired by Baroness Amos, the United Nation undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordination.
As well as being awarded the Legion d’Honneur, the French equivalent of a knighthood, Thiam this year chaired a panel of specialists discussing how to encourage and increase investment in emerging markets.
Their recommendations were presented to the G20 world leaders last week.
Speaking at the launch on Wednesday, Thiam said: “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."
After expressing his gratitude and congratulating the 99 others who featured in the 2012 edition, Thiam attributed his success to his “resilience" and said he measured himself not against his best performance, but by his worst.
It was only a year ago that the Sierra Leone-born CEO had detractors calling for his head after a takeover bid of an insurance bid failed costing the firm millions.
Thiam has since bounced back in a big way. Under his leadership profits rose by 33 per cent in 2010. First half profits in 2011 shot up to £861million compared with £442m during the same period the year before.
At the company’s annual general meeting, 99 per cent of shareholders backed Thiam’s re-election as group chief executive.
The Powerlist is now in its fifth year of highlighting the talented and successful people of African or African Caribbean heritage who live or work in the UK.
New entrants included England rugby vice-captain Maggie Alphonsi and long-distance world champion Mo Farah in the sports category.
Stanley Okolo medical director at North Middlesex Hospital, was a new face in medicine and Kem Ihenacho, a partner at leading law firm Clifford Chance was recognised for his influence in law.
Publisher Michael Eboda said: “People are always surprised that we find new people every year but I’m not. The Powerlist began with the premise that there is a plethora of professional black people in Britain, who are very influential, but who only a few are aware of.
“I doubt we’ve even scratched the surface.”
Idris Elba was a surprise addition to the top 10 but the east Londoner is not only one of Britain's best exports, but was one of the few black actors to take the lead in a prime time BBC series.
His role as troubled-but-brilliant detective John Luther earned him an Emmy nod and has now added executive producer to his CV.
Best known for his role as Stringer Bell in cult HBO show The Wire, Elba has starred in Thor, RocknRolla, 28 Weeks Later and American Gangster opposite Denzel Washington.
Powerlist 2012 Top Ten
1. Tidjane Thiam, chief executive at Prudential
2. Dr Mo Ibranhim, chairman and founder of Mo Ibrahim Foundation
3. Vivian Hunt, director at McKinsey & Company
4. David Adjaye, architect
5. Dr Yvonne Greenstreet, senior vice president and head of medicines development at Pfizer
6. Damon Buffini, private equity baron at Permira
7. Ken Olisa, non-executive director at Thomson Reuters, chair of Restoration Partners and chair of the Powerlist Foundation
8. Sandie Okoro, general counsel at Baring Asset Management
9. Bernard Mensah, head of emerging markets at Bank of America Merrill Lynch
10. Idris Elba, actor/producer