Liddell

After about two-and-a-half years as finance chief at WME-IMG, Chris Liddell is leaving the talent agency to oversee special projects for the Trump administration.

The native New Zealander will take the title of assistant to the president and director of strategic initiatives. His appointment was announced along with that of real estate developer Reed Cordish, who will serve as 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,” Trump said in a news release. “Their skill sets are exactly what is needed to effect substantial change, including system-wide improvement to the performance of the government.”

Liddell, 58, will head up what will be known within the White House as the Strategic Development Group, which will focus on unnamed “priority projects,” and, with Cordish, will oversee a series of “high impact task forces,” Trump’s announcement said.

He has served during the transition as a special adviser on appointments and previously served as executive director of transition planning for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.

Liddell joined WME-IMG in August 2014, replacing Peter Klein. His inernational business career has included roles as CFO for companies ranging from General Motors to Microsoft and International Paper. He helped engineer GM’s $20 billion initial public offering in 2010, one of the largest floats in history.

He is also the chairman of New Zealand accounting software firm Xero. Its chief executive, Rod Drury, told the NZ Herald that Xero was awaiting direction from the White House on whether Liddell could stay on with the company.

In a television interview last year, Liddell said he expected the Trump presidency to be more moderate than his campaign.

“People focus on the president, as they should, because the president’s the single most important person, but the president works through these huge numbers of other people running various departments and so forth, so who he starts to surround himself, how he manages those people, will define his success,” he said.

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