Head of Business for NZME

Chris Liddell heading to White House this week

Christopher Liddell and wife Renee Harbours with US Ambassador, Tim Groser (far left) and his deputy Caroline Beresford (far right) at an event in Washington DC last night. Photo / Joy Asico.
Christopher Liddell and wife Renee Harbours with US Ambassador, Tim Groser (far left) and his deputy Caroline Beresford (far right) at an event in Washington DC last night. Photo / Joy Asico.

Christopher Liddell - the Kiwi businessman appointed to a powerful position in the White House - will take up his new role immediately after Donald Trump is sworn in as President on Saturday.

Liddell will resign as chief financial officer at WME/IMG that day and immediately move to the White House to be an Assistant to the President and Director of Strategic Initiatives.

It is understood Liddell will need a special waiver if he is to continue as chairman of Xero.

He is constrained from commenting publicly, but was clearly elated over his appointment at a high-powered event in Washington DC.

Liddell joined other key players from the Trump Administration, presidential campaign officials and high-ranking Republicans at an Inauguration Gala at the NZ Embassy.

The 58-year-old - one of New Zealand's most accomplished businessmen - will lead new White House Strategic Development Group - dubbed the "White House think tank", which has been tasked with bringing Trump's big picture transformative change items to fruition. He will also interface with private sector forums.

Liddell's appointment was announced along with that of Reed Cordish, who is an Assistant to the President for Intragovernmental and Technology Initiatives.

"Chris Liddell and Reed Cordish have led large, complex companies in the private sector, and have played instrumental roles throughout the transition," said President-elect Trump.

"Their skill sets are exactly what is needed to effect substantial change, including system wide improvement to the performance of the government. I am delighted that they will be part of my executive team."

Liddell said it was an honor to take on the role for the President-elect and the country.

The announcement came just days ahead of Trump's inauguration as the 45th President of the United States and at a time when the American public is looking to the president-elect and his administration to put the polarising election campaign behind them and get down to business.

Liddell - who served as executive director of transition planning for Mitt Romney's 2012 Presidential campaign - joins the Trump Administration armed with huge experience preparing the prior Republican candidate.

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.

During the transition period, Liddell has been the Special Adviser on Presidential Appointments.

Liddell is the chairman of New Zealand accounting software firm Xero. Its chief executive, Rod Drury, said he and the team were very proud of Liddell.

"We're just really excited for Chris, it's a great opportunity and to have a New Zealander in that role is I think really good for New Zealand."

Drury said Xero was awaiting direction from the White House on whether Liddell could remain with Xero.

"Both we and he would like Chris to stay involved with Xero, but we'll have clarity on whether he can over the next few days," Drury said.

"If it does turn out he's not allowed to do external directorships we do have good planning in place so we're not too concerned."

- NZ Herald

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