Friday, 20 March 2009

The Limit is the Sky!

Tidjane Thiam

Rarely do I ever update my blog twice in a day, but I have decided to push that rule aside today in the face of some historic news emanating from the City. In what can only be described as historic(well, it bloody is!), a FTSE 100 company has or the first time ever, appointed a black person as their CEO! And guess what the best part is, he was not even born or educated in the UK. I know you are probably wondering why that is the best part, but let me assure you as someone who has spent two decades on this isle, it is refreshing to know 'foreigners' can shatter the glass ceiling in the land of Cromwell.

Tidjane Thiam is a french educated Ivorien and will become the CEO of Prudential in October 2009. His resume is impressive:

* March 2009: Appointed successor to Prudential CEO Mark Tucker
* Named second most influential black Briton in 2008
* Chief executive, Europe at insurance giant Aviva
* Partner with management consultants McKinsey & Company
* Chief executive, National Bureau for Technical Studies and Development, Ivory Coast
* Minister of Planning and Development in Ivory Coast government
* Studied engineering in Paris and gained MBA from INSEAD

For the Black historians amongst us, Franklin Delano Raines was the first CEO of a Fortune 500 company - Fannie Mae (yes, the infamous Fannie Mae!). That was in 1999, but today, 19 Fortune 500 companies are run by people of colour.

Five Fortune 500 CEOs are Black:

Kenneth I. Chenault, American Express

Ronald Williams, Aetna

Clarence Otis, Darden Restaurants

John Thompson, Symantec

Rodney O'Neal, Delphi

Seven Fortune 500 CEOs are Latino:

Antonio Perez, Eastman Kodak Co.

Alain J.P. Belda, Alcoa

Cristóbal I. Conde, SunGard Data Systems

José Maria Alapont, Federal-Mogul

Fernando Aquirre, Chiquita Brands

Alvaro G. de Molina, GMAC

William Perez, Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.

Seven Fortune 500 CEOs are Asian, including two women:

Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo

Vikram S. Pandit, Citigroup

Ramani Ayer, Hartford Financial Services

Andrea Jung, Avon Products

Rajiv L. Gupta, Rohm and Haas

Surya N. Mohapatra, Quest Diagnostics

Jerry Yang, Yahoo!

To my mind, this latest appointment goes a long way to let the naysayers (I have been in that number) realise that it is all within our grasp. Who knows what next.....10 Downing Street? Okay,I went too far...or did I? In the final analysis, as seen with the election of Barack Obama, belief and hard work is everything. Every human being is an unstoppable force and when one looks closely, it becomes obvious that the only person stopping you, might be yourself!

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