NUMBER ONE: Tidjane Thiam
THE CHIEF executive of one of Britain’s FTSE (Financial Times Stock Exchange) 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.
As well as being awarded the Legion d’Honneur, the French equivalent of a knighthood, Thiam 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 Powerlist 2012 launch on November 9, 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.”
It was only a year ago that the Ivory Coast-born CEO had detractors calling for his resignation after a takeover bid for an insurance company went wrong, costing the firm millions.
But Thiam has since bounced back in a big way. In 2010, profits rose by 33 percent. First half profits of the following year leapt to £861m compared with £442m the year before.
At the company’s annual general meeting, 99 percent of shareholders backed Thiam’s re-election as group chief executive.
The Powerlist is now in its fifth year of highlighting 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 the category of 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, who only a few are aware of. I doubt we’ve even scratched the surface.”