Thursday, Apr. 29, 2010

Tidjane Thiam

High-flying business types are meant to be impressive, but Tidjane Thiam, 47, is exceptional. When in 2008 he took the top job at Prudential, the British insurer that is buying AIG's Asian unit, people talked about his rise in surprised tones. But it is no surprise that Tidjane has got to where he is — he is a brilliant, elegant, media-adept family man. I have had the honor and pleasure of working closely with him on the Commission for Africa in 2004 and '05 and currently on the Africa Progress Panel. His insight and analysis are always impressive, his opinions invaluable.

Tidjane was once a minister in his home nation, Côte d'Ivoire, and he told me that when he was a high-ranking African politician, those with power and influence in the West didn't want to hear what he had to say — but that once he joined the private sector, his opinion became sought out. Now bigwigs can't get enough of him, and rightly so.

Geldof is a musician and an activist

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