Chris Liddell, the Kiwi joining Donald Trump’s administration as an assistant to the President and director of Strategic Initiatives, is one of New Zealand’s leading businessmen.
The 58-year-old’s impressive C.V. includes stints as the chief financial officer of Microsoft and General Motors.
While at GM, he helped engineer its US$23 billion float in 2010 – at the time one of the biggest sharemarket listings in history.
The chairman of accounting software maker Xero, the father-of-two has held positions as the CFO of International Paper, a chief executive of Carter Holt Harvey and co-CEO of investment bank Credit Suisse First Boston.
A companion to the New Zealand Order of Merit, Liddell also chairs Next Foundation – an environmental and education fund.
Liddell told the Herald in late 2015 that he sees philanthropy as a natural extension of his business career. “I don’t see them as two separate things – just a natural part of life’s journey.” Liddell said at the time that he came from a “relatively poor” background.
“My father died when I was young and left my mother with five kids at school,” he said.
“If it hadn’t been for the New Zealand education system and all the other things that we benefit from in New Zealand, I wouldn’t have had the opportunities that I’ve had.”
Liddell – who served as executive director of transition planning for Mitt Romney’s 2012 Presidential campaign – had already been working with the Trump team on their transition to the Whitehouse.
A book he co-authored after the 2012 election – Romney Readiness Project: Retrospective and Lessons Learned – has been taken as a bible for presidential transition planning.
Liddell is also a former director of the New Zealand Rugby Union and New Zealand Sports Foundation, and past patron of the University of Auckland’s fundraising campaign.
In 2014 he became CFO of US talent agency WME/IMG, which went onto buy the Miss Universe Organisation – the owner of pageants including Miss Universe and Miss USA – from then US presidential hopeful Donald Trump.