Thursday, Apr. 01, 2010

Tidjane Thiam

Age: 47
Occupation: CEO of Prudential Plc.
Previous TIME 100 Appearances:

As the first black CEO of a company on London's FTSE 100 stock index, the Ivory Coast-born Thiam knows his race often generates as much commentary as his performance of the job. Thiam thinks that's a shame — and tells people to stay focused on the bottom line. Raised and educated in Paris, he returned to the Ivory Coast as a government minister before a coup forced him back to Europe, where his ascent in business has been fast and steady. After a successful stint at McKinsey, Thiam moved to Aviva in the UK before finally becoming Prudential's chairman last October. His first major move there: launching a $35.5 billion bid for Asian insurer AIA Group that would allow Prudential overcome market barriers to thriving business in India and China.