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Old 11.03.2015, 00:43
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Re: Credit Suisse, UK, France & Africa: a modern tale

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Sometimes important events take place but no one notice really immediately. It's only later that we measure the importance of their impact. To me this event is the appointment of Tidjane Thiam as CEO of Credit-Suisse. Why is this so surprising?
Well let's state his singularities: he is black, from Ivory Coast, muslim and francophone.....who has been appointed CEO of a large global swiss bank after a successful career in the City leading the british insurance company Prudential.

His story holds all the feature of a modern tale. He was born in Ivory Coast in 1962 in a wealthy family that fought colonialism after fighting nazism within the french colonial army during WWII. After brilliant studies in the most elitist universities in France, he was recruited by major consulting companies. After several years his career was not progressing in France corporate environment. One of his friends and headhunter told him clearly: "I will stop sending your CV to my customers; they all say you are brilliant and impressive but ..." The ellipsis was about the "glass ceiling" he was hitting because of his origin and skin. That's when he was recruited by a british headhunter for an insurance company in the UK. He was so surprised that he immediately told the headhunter over the phone:"you need to know: I am black, 1m93 tall and my english is not so good". He led for several years successfully Prudential Ltd in the City. He joked that his biggest handicap in London was not his skin color but his french accent.

So today a major swiss bank appointed him after a successful career in the City while France never gave him the opportunity after giving him the high quality education.

I can only say: Chapeau bas Messieurs les suisses et les anglais!*

* So hats off to swiss and british gentlemen

An excellent matter. A real top man takes over CS, and that he is a black makes things really interesting. The man speaks French, English and German, was in politics, in insurance and in finance, a tremendous combination. That he is 1 mtr 93 cms tall may be irrelevant but is impressive. While Mr Rohner, the CS chairman, looks really happy, outgoing Mr Dougan does not.
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