So who are these 19 leaders who will potentially shape America’s future?
By Sheahan Nasir Bhuiyan
And so it’s happened. Donald Trump is the 45th President of the United States of America. Never mind the pre-voting polls. Never mind the fact that no major, if any, newspaper endorsed him. Forget about the New York Times’ bold prediction that it will be a landslide victory for Hillary Clinton. The American people have spoken and they have picked their new Commander in Chief and he will be in the Oval Office till 2020.
President Trump, who bills himself as a savvy businessman (he drove six of his investments into bankruptcies) will “Make America Great Again” by bringing jobs back to America but even he cannot manage that on his own. To make things easier, he set up the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum, made up of 19 of America’s biggest business leaders, including former CEO and Chairman of General Electric, Jack Welch; current Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger; and even Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors despite being an outspoken critic of the President. The Forum will be chaired by Stephen Schwarzman, the billionaire co-founder and CEO/Chairman of private equity giants Blackstone Group.
The group was created to provide the President with regular updates regarding the ongoing of the private sector and the opinions of these leaders as he seeks to boost business in America by lowering taxes, stimulating growth and reducing bureaucracy. It was not mentioned how often they would meet but the first of these is scheduled in early February and then meetings will occur on a “frequent” basis.
The Forum is somewhat inconsistent with Trump’s campaign rhetoric which consisted of a lot of anti-establishment, anti-elite agenda. In his inauguration speech, he spoke about giving power back to the people. How best to achieve that but to assemble a mega rich band of corporate leaders and elites and giving them the chance to influence policy decisions. But, to Trump’s credit, at least his assembled cast of billionaires is not a collection of Trump fanboys. Leaders like Musk and PepsiCo CEO, Indra Nooyi, have liberal viewpoints and are staunch critics of the President. While some in the left feel that these leaders have jumped ship, others feel that having some liberal presence in the Forum will ensure progressive views are at least on the table.
Stephen A. Schwarzman
Chairperson and CEO,
Mr. Schwarzman co-founded Blackstone in 1985 and was involved in all aspects of its development as it became the largest alternative asset management company in the world with $361 billion assets under management (as of September 30, 2016) and 300,000 employees across its American portfolios alone. He is also an avid philanthropist and supports education, health, and athletics through numerous donations and programs. Mr. Schwarzman served as an adjunct professor at Yale School of Management and on the Harvard Business School Board of Dean’s Advisors.
Patomak Global Partners, LLC
Former Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission
Mr. Atkins founded Patomak Global Partners in 2009 to provide strategic regulatory, compliance, and litigation support services to companies operating in global markets. From July 2002 to August 2008, Mr. Atkins served as a Commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He is against labor unions, environmentalists and gay rights groups for challenging public companies through shareholder activism. He is a critic of President Obama’s Dodd-Frank regulation, drawn up to regulate financial markets, a policy that the new President wants to dismantle.
Chairperson and CEO, General Motors
Mary Barra is about to embark on her fourth year as the CEO of General Motors. She was a big friend of the Obama Administration, having a reputation as Obama’s favorite CEO. She’s had her fair share of ups and downs, being in charge of GM during its 30 million car recall period before being named “World’s Most Powerful Woman in 2016” by Forbes.
Chairperson and CEO,
SpaceX and Tesla Motors
Elon Musk is a visionary. With Tesla Motors he is bringing electric cars into the mainstream. With SpaceX, he is privatizing space travel. In both his companies, the level of innovation is extremely high. SpaceX is the recipient of NASA contracts to deliver goods into space in a cost efficient manner while Tesla Motors is trialing driverless cars. Mr. Musk was an open supporter of Hillary Clinton during the elections going as far as to say “I think a bit strongly that (Trump) is probably not the right guy for the presidency, and wouldn’t be the best candidate to represent the U.S. abroad”. It will be interesting to see how this marriage works out.
Chairperson and CEO, PepsiCo
Indra Nooyi leads PepsiCo, a company that has made more than $63 billion in annual net revenue of which $35 billion was in the US alone. PepsiCo is America’s largest food and beverage firm, employing over 110,000 people across 100 plants in the United States. Ms. Nooyi, an Indian born American, was an open supporter of Ms. Clinton during the general election. After the elections, it is reported that her daughters, employees, especially LGBT and non-whites were devastated and was asking her if they were safe. Her inclusion in this forum is perhaps the most interesting given her high profile support to Mrs. Clinton and the views of her employees in light of Mr. Trump’s victory.
CEO, Cleveland Clinic
Dr. Toby Cosgrove is a former surgeon for the US Air Force who currently presides over Cleveland Clinic, an $8 billion healthcare system. Dr. Cosgrove was very friendly with the Obama administration as well and may offer differing views on dismantling Obamacare than President Trump. He proposed a solution which brings different hospitals specialising in different healthcare options to create a system of networks providing efficient service.
Chairperson of the Board,
CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co
Mr. Dimon has led JPMorgan and Chase since 2005. During the run up to the election Mr. Dimon has criticized both candidates (Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump) and claimed that their rhetoric against each other is helping no one. He further went on to claim that Americans were manipulated by the media, specifically naming MSNBC and Fox News. Before joining JPMorgan and Chase, Mr. Dimon held high posts in Bank One, Citigroup Inc., Travelers Group, Commercial Credit Company and American Express Company.
Chairperson and CEO, BlackRock
Larry Fink is Founder, Chairperson, and CEO of BlackRock, a global leader in investment management, risk management and advisory services for institutional and retail clients. BlackRock currently manages more money than any other investment firm in the world. Mr. Fink is a Democrat and was openly seeking the Secretary of Treasury post should Hillary Clinton have won. Mr. Fink believes investing in infrastructure would lead to a boost in the economy, a notion shared by President Trump.
Chairperson and CEO, The Walt Disney Company
Bob Iger leads one of the world’s largest, respected and beloved media companies in the world. He was named one of the “Best CEOs” by Institutional Investor; MarketWatch CEO of the Year; “CEO of the Year” by Chief Executive; and one of the “25 Most Powerful People in Business” by Fortune, which also recognized Disney among “America’s Most Admired Companies.” Mr. Iger serves on the Apple board of directors and has been a board member of the U.S-China Business Council since 2011.
President and CEO, The Boston Consulting Group
Rich Lesser has continued BCG’s growth both in the US and internationally, and has led investments in development economics, specifically in the healthcare and consumer sectors. Under him, the BCG has partnered with World Food Programme, Save the Children, and WWF through strong investments in creating social impacts. Mr. Lesser is a member of prominent leading organizations such as the World Economic Forum’s International Business Council, and the US Business Roundtable.
President and CEO,
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Mr. McMillon became the president and the CEO of the world’s largest retailer in 2014. One of his first moves as CEO was to raise the wages of 500,000 Americans working under him. Mr. Mcmillon’s political contributions shows he tends to lean towards the Republican side.
W James (Jim) McNerney Jr.
Former Chairperson, President and CEO, Boeing
Mr. McNerney was in charge of Boeing when it overtook Airbus as the world’s leading commercial airplane brand, securing the highest deliveries and becoming the biggest exporter. Mr. McNerney’s achievements as CEO include maintaining a strong position in defense markets despite a downturn in U.S. military spending; restoring Boeing’s historic leadership in human spaceflight with major new program wins; and expanding its engineering and manufacturing footprint inside and outside the United States. Boeing’s financial performance steadily improved under Mr. McNerney, with revenues rising % to a record $96.1 billion in 2015 from $52.5 billion in 2004, the year before he became CEO.
Adebayo “Bayo” Ogunlesi
Chairperson and Managing Partner, Global Infrastructure Partners
Mr. Ogunlesi manages Global Infrastructure Partners, a private equity firm with more than $35 billion in assets under management which invests worldwide in infrastructure assets in the energy, transport, and water and waste industry sectors. Being Nigerian and black, it will be interesting to see how he fares in his new role, especially in the face of President Trump’s rhetoric against non-Americans.
President and CEO, IBM
Since taking over in 2012, Ms. Rometty has led IBM to new heights in Artificial Intelligence. Following the elections, Ms. Rometty sent a letter to then President elect Trump offering her support in a tax reform in early 2017, working together to scale up “new collar” jobs in areas such as cyber security, data science, artificial intelligence and cognitive business, focusing on infrastructure investments that incorporate Internet of Things technology, artificial intelligence and highlights secure infrastructure, and offering healthcare at a lower cost.
Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Economics, Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Former Governor of the Federal Reserve Board
Kevin Warsh is the Shepard Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Economics at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and lecturer at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. He advises several private and public companies, including serving on the board of directors of UPS. In addition, he is a member of the Group of Thirty. Mr. Warsh served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from 2006 until 2011. Mr. Warsh is critical of the way the Federal Reserve is being run and suggested a new way of thinking for them.
Global Chairperson and CEO, EY
Mr. Weinberger leads one of the leading global professional services organization that provides assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. With 230,000 people in more than 150 countries, EY is one of the largest professional services organizations in the world. Mr. Weinberger is no stranger to politics and has been serving US politics since the Clinton era. He previously served as the Assistant Secretary of the United States Department of the Treasury (Tax Policy) in the George W. Bush Administration. Mr. Weinberger was also appointed by President Clinton to serve on the U.S. Social Security Administration Advisory Board, which advises the President and Congress on all aspects of the Social Security system.
Retired Chairperson and CEO, General Electric
Jack Welch became a legend in the business empire after increasing GE’s value from $13 billion in 1981 to several hundred billion at the time of his retirement in 2001. Jack Welch is a Republican and threw his support behind President Trump in the elections. Welch is likely to be one of Mr. Trump’s biggest allies in the Forum with his views on environment, taxes, and regulations echoing those of the President’s.
Pulitzer Prize-winner and Vice Chairperson of IHS Markit
Dr. Daniel Yergin is considered to be one of the foremost authorities of the energy and political environment in the world. He authored The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize, and of The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World. Both the books detail the history of the petroleum industry and is considered to be Bibles for students in the subject. Recent oil productions have prompted him to encourage dialogue between oil producing countries and will likely be a key advisor to the President for negotiations between the US and Russia, OPEC, etc.
CEO and Co-founder, Uber Technologies
Mr. Kalanick is the co-founder and the current CEO of one of the world’s largest ride sharing service, operating in 450 cities and 80 countries across the world. Mr. Kalanick seems to favor politicians on both side of the divide. He has Libertarian views and is said to be a big fan of Ayn Rand (he has backpedaled on this). On the other hand, he is a huge fan of Obamacare and went on record saying how beneficial it is for his business.