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Old 10.03.2015, 23:37
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Credit Suisse, UK, France & Africa: a modern tale

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
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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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Old 11.03.2015, 07:26
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Re: Credit Suisse, UK, France & Africa: a modern tale

...and unlike Dougan he has his own hair.

Last edited by AbFab; 11.03.2015 at 09:07.
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Old 11.03.2015, 08:03
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Re: Credit Suisse, UK, France & Africa: a modern tale

That is an encouraging sign that CS is sober. Doesn't it signal a direction towards more conservative asset management and less risky investment banking?
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Old 11.03.2015, 10:29
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Re: Credit Suisse, UK, France & Africa: a modern tale

It shouldn't be the colour of someone's skin that is the focus of news about any CEO's appointment.

More interesting is that he comes from outside the banking sector in contrast to the lifer he will replace.

In 2009, Thiam made a disastrous attempt to buy AIA. It was vetoed by Pru's shareholders who said the price was too high.

Some CEO's careers would not have survived that.

He is a good choice for Credit Suisse. I imagine their strategy will be continuing to shrink investment banking and expanding business in Asia.
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Old 11.03.2015, 11:40
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Re: Credit Suisse, UK, France & Africa: a modern tale

I assume he has French citizenship by now. Or did I miss all the CEO job ads by Credit Suisse in order to meet the immigration criteria for 3rd country nationals that no Swiss or EU citizen is capable of doing the job ?
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Old 11.03.2015, 11:59
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Re: Credit Suisse, UK, France & Africa: a modern tale

Let's wait and see what he does before judging him on his ethnicity, accent or even stature.

IMHO the French did a pretty good job drilling French values and thinking into the educated elite of their former colonies, and in contrast to the former British colonies which have drifted onto their own paths post independence, the former French colonies (at least the sub-Saharan ones) remain extremely French to this day. So to all intents and purposes he may probably think and act like a Frenchman.
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Old 11.03.2015, 12:17
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Re: Credit Suisse, UK, France & Africa: a modern tale

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Let's wait and see what he does before judging him on his ethnicity, accent or even stature.

IMHO the French did a pretty good job drilling French values and thinking into the educated elite of their former colonies, and in contrast to the former British colonies which have drifted onto their own paths post independence, the former French colonies (at least the sub-Saharan ones) remain extremely French to this day. So to all intents and purposes he may probably think and act like a Frenchman.
Lol, the only thing the French colonies have in common is how utterly crap they were run. I certainly don't think they made much of an effort in "drilling" French values into the local populace. Screwing French values out of them perhaps.
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Old 11.03.2015, 12:38
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Re: Credit Suisse, UK, France & Africa: a modern tale

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Lol, the only thing the French colonies have in common is how utterly crap they were run. I certainly don't think they made much of an effort in "drilling" French values into the local populace. Screwing French values out of them perhaps.
No,

The administartion, government, education system etc of many former colonies is identical to that of France down to tiny details. Even reforms that France made post independence seem to get mimicked somehow, with France still being the example they all strive to want to be a carbon copy of.

And don't get me started on how Senegal regularly beats France in (French) grammar and spelling tests, putting the mother country to shame.

I attended a French school for three years and we had two teachers from Africa (one of them was the headmaster) and they were more French than any French person I ever met, in both all the good ways and all the bad ways.

Last edited by amogles; 11.03.2015 at 12:53.
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Old 11.03.2015, 13:12
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Re: Credit Suisse, UK, France & Africa: a modern tale

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Lol, the only thing the French colonies have in common is how utterly crap they were run. I certainly don't think they made much of an effort in "drilling" French values into the local populace. Screwing French values out of them perhaps.
You are contradicting yourself. Running a state in bureaucratic and crap ways are French values...
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Old 11.03.2015, 15:25
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Re: Credit Suisse, UK, France & Africa: a modern tale

I don't like the focus on his ethnicity or country of origin.

What impresses me most is his CV:
INSEAD, McKinsey, Minister, Prudential CEO and now CS CEO.

Well deserving of the job.
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Old 11.03.2015, 16:20
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Re: Credit Suisse, UK, France & Africa: a modern tale

Good news for him (and hopefully for CS). Sad thing is, people in 2015 in this progressive country actually care about anything else than his career track/professional attitudes. I mean, who cares how tall is he? Why not caring about size of his feet too? (race, origin, religion fall all in same bucket).
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Old 11.03.2015, 17:00
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Re: Credit Suisse, UK, France & Africa: a modern tale

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I assume he has French citizenship by now. Or did I miss all the CEO job ads by Credit Suisse in order to meet the immigration criteria for 3rd country nationals that no Swiss or EU citizen is capable of doing the job ?
Well... they hired an American last time..

They could probably scrounge up a B permit for this guy too...


How are we going to be able to take that French accent seriously?!

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Good news for him (and hopefully for CS). Sad thing is, people in 2015 in this progressive country actually care about anything else than his career track/professional attitudes. I mean, who cares how tall is he? Why not caring about size of his feet too? (race, origin, religion fall all in same bucket).
Yeah, you're right...

We shouldn't Object-tify these men.. we shouldn't be thinking - are they good looking enough to do the job...

But he is certainly a man to look up to
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Old 11.03.2015, 17:03
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Re: Credit Suisse, UK, France & Africa: a modern tale

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Well... they hired an American last time..

They could probably scrounge up a B permit for this guy too...


How are we going to be able to take that French accent seriously?!
Well it can't be worse than the yank accent they put up with for the last eight years or so.
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Old 11.03.2015, 19:24
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Re: Credit Suisse, UK, France & Africa: a modern tale

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Good news for him (and hopefully for CS). Sad thing is, people in 2015 in this progressive country actually care about anything else than his career track/professional attitudes. I mean, who cares how tall is he? Why not caring about size of his feet too? (race, origin, religion fall all in same bucket).



It is important to realize his tallness to see that the others around him are not soooo small
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Old 12.03.2015, 05:02
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Re: Credit Suisse, UK, France & Africa: a modern tale

That Credit Suisse hired a black Côte D'Ivoiran to be their CEO is remarkable. That they hired a francophone shouldn't be. (Although I expect that as M. Thiam's English improved once he moved to London, he will likewise get better in German once he starts working in Zürich.)

P.S. Wouldn't anybody love to be a fly on the wall when somebody from the SVP stops by to talk to the new CEO of Credit Suisse?
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Old 12.03.2015, 06:03
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Re: Credit Suisse, UK, France & Africa: a modern tale

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That they hired a francophone shouldn't be.
Why? Cause they got a French name? So their strategy worked: In the 1980s did the large Zurich banks recognize that German was an important European language, but not one the world trades in... so the largest, Schweizerischer Bank Verein, decided to rename itself into Union Bank of Switzerland aka UBS. The equally German speaking Schweizerische Kreditanstalt recognized that any translation to English would be a bit much copying, so went with French instead. There is absolutely nothing Francophone about Credit Suisse... (insider tourist tip: the iron bars on the ground floor windows of the Paradeplatz building have still "SKA" signs in them)
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Old 12.03.2015, 10:16
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Re: Credit Suisse, UK, France & Africa: a modern tale

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Why? Cause they got a French name? So their strategy worked: In the 1980s did the large Zurich banks recognize that German was an important European language, but not one the world trades in... so the largest, Schweizerischer Bank Verein, decided to rename itself into Union Bank of Switzerland aka UBS.
Er no, Bankverein merged with UBS to form a bank called UBS. The German name of USB was SBG (Schweizerische Bankgesellschaft)

German names do play well on the international stage by the way. Look at BMW or Volkswagen. Are they pandering with Anglified or Francified versions of their names because they are afraid people can't pronounce the German? Imagine selling a Folk Waggon , people would think its some sort of hillybilly music festival and not a car.

No, because being German is actually good for their marketing and public image. Fortschritt durch Technik is a universally understood phrase, with multiple millions of people who otherwise don't know a word of German being able to say it and know what it means. That's really smart marketing. You've got to hand it to whoever thought that one out.

And just as Germans are known the world over for making cars, the Swiss are known the world over for banking, right?

CS always was Credit Suisse in the Fracophone parts of Switzerland. But at some point they realized its a bit clunky to have one name in one part of the other country and another name in another part, so they settled for a single name and identity. I think the same was true of UBS. The acronym UBS works in French as well as it does in English and I'm pretty sure it was French before somebody decided to make English out of it.
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Old 12.03.2015, 10:29
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Re: Credit Suisse, UK, France & Africa: a modern tale

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No, because being German is actually good for their marketing and public image. Fortschritt durch Technik is a universally understood phrase, with multiple millions of people who otherwise don't know a word of German being able to say it and know what it means. That's really smart marketing. You've got to hand it to whoever thought that one out.
I always understood it as Vorsprung...
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Old 12.03.2015, 10:29
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Re: Credit Suisse, UK, France & Africa: a modern tale

I've never seen Fortschritt durch Technik before. Is it Audi's new slogan to replace Vorsprung durch Technik?
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