Tidjane Thiam, the man behind a USD35 billion Prudential buy-out of AIA


In 2005 while researching the subject of leadership styles as adopted by various established business leaders around the world, I came across this young man by the name of Tidjane Thiam – a name that sounded very much Chinese because of  the name “Thiam” adoption and combining with “Tidjane”, this guy sort of drawn in me to be some descendant of the Genghiz Khan generation. Of course, he was a francophone and six foot four black man from Ivory Coast. At that time of the research, he was the Group Strategy and Development Director of Aviva Plc and what strikes me then was his DECISIVENESS rather than his ability to DELIBERATE! He believed himself to be a person of HIGH EQ – it is all about emotion that takes thing to the next stage and not all about analysis that can lead to paralysis. He was also labeled by his colleagues and associates as a man in a hurry….

In 2007, I learned that he was the CFO of Prudential UK…. with annual remuneration package of £1.24 million and by October 2009, he took over as Prudential’s CEO. By February 2010, he was already on top of a deal so huge that could either make or break him – showing what a fast and sharp worker he was.


Not much was known about Tidjane’s LEADESHIP qualities and characterics that could made some learning curves for me? But he represents the tail-end Generation Baby-Boomer, something synonymous to my generation – something more relevant to me, as the next generation started to shape both the  world economy and the business arena in their own discreet manner.

Perhaps putting a SUMMARY of his career in a tag below may help us see something about this guy….

Tidjane Thiam: “Man in a hurry”
  1. Obtained a Civil Engineering degree in 1986 from Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris, France
  2. He was a Consultant, Strategy and Organisation, McKinsey & Company, France, 1986-89 and 1989-94.
  3. In 1988 received an MBA from INSEAD, France while still working for McKinsey
  4. In 1990 he was a Young Professional at the World Bank in Washington.
  5. Between 1994 and 1999 he was Director-General of the Bureau National d’Etudes Techniques et de Développement (BNETD), a Special Adviser on Strategic Planning to the President and then a Minister of Planning, Development and Coordination of Côte d’Ivoire, 1998-99.
  6. He lost his Ministerial job in the 1999 coup and was threatened with arrest
  7. He made his way back to McKinsey in 1999 and by 2000 he was made a partner
  8. In 2002 he was made a director at Aviva Plc, better known as Norwich Union and later as managing director and CEO
  9. In 2007 he moved to Prudential as CFO
  10. In 2009 he was made CEO of Prudential, UK, the first black CEO of a FTSE 100 company

Not much was known about Tidjane Thiam as most literature (if available) were actually written in French including his posting on facebook. But base on his career profile, Tidjane is depicted as an aggressive person with an exceptional learning curve, highly confident in outlook and have strong channels within the international financial circles. Despite his training in finance, he has never known to be meticulous and overly focus on number crunching – he is more adept in the implementation aspect, that is making things work! He believes 80% of a prescribed solution or plan is into MAKING THINGS WORK! The other 20% is just about the plan or solution details……

He also place emphasis on decisiveness rather than long hours of deliberation – ultimately, most things are in the actions rather than the numbers and the details!

“In today’s very competitive markets, decisiveness is 80% with ability to deliberate taking up the 20% of the overall planning process….”

If Tidjane Thiam made it this time…again, I supposed, the lesson he should be sending to the business world is about DECISIVENESS RATHER THAN ABILITY TO DELIBERATE. This should revolutionise how the next generation of managers should think and act… in particularly to our Malaysian insurance industry, which is certainly lacking in this area of development.

Now, what do you think?

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8 comments for “Tidjane Thiam, the man behind a USD35 billion Prudential buy-out of AIA

  1. KM
    July 6, 2010 at 08:55

    Despite the bigger than life whoo-ah, this deal failed to materialise. What could have happened to our dear Tijane after this fiasco, did I called this a fiasco?

    • July 8, 2010 at 22:59

      Tijane is certain to meet his fate but who knows, he could be much stronger thereafter, especially for someone who had already went through much political assassination in his younger days…

  2. mikechan
    March 16, 2010 at 01:28

    A friend of this chap, great guy a way to go!

  3. March 15, 2010 at 09:12

    A great man he is! Wish himthe best in this mammoth exercise and may he bring another new world order to our everyday business lives.

    • March 16, 2010 at 02:02

      Hopefully he gets it done otherwise would end up a disgrace for our generation…. the tail of the Gen-BB!

      • March 22, 2010 at 20:22

        Prudential is paying 1.7 times AIA’s embedded value, a measure of future profits, the insurer said on March 1. Axa SA’s Asian business is valued at a similar multiple, while Prudential was trading at a level almost equal to its own embedded value before the acquisition was announced.

        “Investors need to see what kind of returns we are going to get within the next two or three years,” said Martin Brown, who helps manage 67 billion pounds at Glasgow-based Ignis Asset Management, including Prudential shares. “Therein lies the conflict with a management team who feel they can take a five-to 10-year view.”

        • March 23, 2010 at 01:01

          Hope he can goes thru it, otherwise nothing to show for the tailed-end generation Baby-Boomer… I think Obama is also not doing well either!

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