18 Jan 2017

Kiwi named in Trump's team

12:09 pm on 18 January 2017

The head of Xero says New Zealand businessman Chris Liddell's appointment to US President-elect Donald Trump's inner circle is exciting for the country.

Renee Liddell and Christopher Liddell attend the "Patrick Demarchelier" special exhibition preview to celebrate NYFW: The Shows for Spring 2016 at Christie's on September 9, 2015 in New York City.

Christopher and Renee Liddell at an exhibition opening in New York in 2015. Photo: AFP

Mr Liddell, who chairs the board of the accounting software company, will lead the president's strategic development group.

Xero chief executive Rod Drury said it was great to have a New Zealand business leader in the West Wing.

Mr Liddell was a great networker who would likely stay close with his business contacts, he said.

"I think it is incredibly positive for the country," he said.

Mr Drury said Mr Liddell may have to resign his directorships, as per US Government policy, but he was still working through the process and a decision was yet to be made about his position on Xero's board.

"When decided, the board will make a formal announcement."

Mr Liddell said he was honoured to be appointed assistant to the president and director of strategic initiatives in Mr Trump's White House team.

According to a press release from Mr Trump's transition team, Mr Liddell will lead the President's Strategic Development Group. He will focus on priority projects and work with the private sector.

In a statement, Mr Trump said Mr Liddell led large complex companies in the private sector and played an instrumental role in the transition, where he was a special adviser on presidential appointments.

Mr Trump said his skill set was needed to effect substantial change and he was delighted to have him in his executive team.

Career background

Chris Liddell, who grew up in Auckland, has more than 30 years of finance and operations experience.

He previously worked with General Motors where he led the company's global finance operations.

Mr Liddell has held senior roles at Microsoft and is a former chief executive of Carter Holt Harvey.

He is currently Chairman of the board of Xero Corporation, and is the chair of the Next Foundation, a New Zealand philanthropic fund for organisations working on social and environmental projects.

Its chief executive, Bill Kermode, said: "Chris' appointment is an outstanding achievement for a New Zealander - and a great opportunity to have a significant impact on a world stage".

Mr Liddell was the executive director of the previous Republican Party candidate Mitt Romney's campaign transition planning team, and he has authored a book on presidential transitions.

In 2011, Mr Liddell was named as New Zealand Businessman of the Year.

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