Michael Hermann News

Born in Ivory Coast, raised in Morocco and educated in France, at the elite Ecole Polytechnique, francophone Tidjane Thiam has spent a lifetime defying the odds. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Tidjane Thiam, Credit Suisse's next CEO: The gnomes of Zurich bet on the man from the Pru

To his family in Africa, he was “l’ultime espoir” — the last hope. Tidjane Thiam, it’s safe to say, didn’t disappoint. Over the past 30 years, Thiam has traced the arc of ambition from his native Ivory Coast to the top of a venerable British insurer, Prudential Plc, sweeping aside the last racial barrier in U.K. boardrooms.