President-elect Donald Trump has created a new advisory group of business leaders to “frequently” advise him on economic matters.
The list includes big names like Jack Welch, the former Chairman and CEO of General Electric, Jamie Dimon, the Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co and Bob Iger, The Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO.
But there is only CEO from the tech industry. IBM’s Ginni Rometty.
Rometty is an interesting choice for a lot of reasons. She’s not from the center of the tech universe, Silicon Valley. IBM is headquartered in New York. We don’t know if she knows Trump personally or not, but as a fellow New Yorker, its likely they have at least hobnobbed a time or two.
Rometty is a bona fide geek who definitely has a vision for how tech is going to change the world. She calls it “cognitive computing” and she believes the day is coming when humans will consult thinking, learning, rational computers for every decision that they make. She’s sees this brave new computing world changing actually “changing who you are,” she’s said in various keynote speeches.
And IBM under Rometty has publicly taken stances regarding potentially discriminatory state laws. Her name was among 80 who signed a letter asking North Carolina to repeal its controversial bathroom law, which forbids transgender people from using bathrooms based on their gender identify and also forbids local governments from creating other ordinances that outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity.
At odds on outsourcing
On the other hand, IBM, particularly under her leadership, is a classic global American company that routinely lays off US workers. The company employs about 380,000 people and in 2010 it stopped disclosing its US headcount, amidst criticisms that it has been offshoring jobs to countries like India.
Shortly after Trump won the election, Rometty penned an open letter to him.
In it, she praised his ideas and suggested that the federal government (which is a huge IBM customer) buy more IBM technology in the future. She gave pitches on hiring IBM to “fight government waste” and to help the Department of Veterans Affairs with its health care issues.
She also suggested Trump focus on vocational training as an alternative to college, offering IBM’s model of 6-year high-schools as a model. And she applauded his tax reform ideas, which promise to cut corporate taxes and allow companies to bring home their offshored cash hoards at a low tax rate, too.
The letter didn’t, however, mention any of his campaign positions on social issues that were the subject of protests and riots nationwide at the time.
And that caused one IBM employee to write her own open letter to Rometty to announce her resignation in protest of Rometty’s letter to Trump. The employee’s letter went viral. It accused IBM under Rometty of “a willingness to legitimise threats to our country for financial gain.”
So all-in-all, a very interesting choice of the CEO selected to represent the tech industry.
Here’s the full list from a press release issued by Blackstone.
- Stephen Schwarzman (forum chairman), chairman, CEO, and cofounder of Blackstone
- Paul Atkins, CEO of Patomak Global Partners, former commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission
- Mary Barra, chairwoman and CEO, General Motors
- Toby Cosgrove, CEO, Cleveland Clinic
- Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
- Larry Fink, chairman and CEO, BlackRock
- Bob Iger, chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company
- Rich Lesser, president and CEO, Boston Consulting Group
- Doug McMillon, president and CEO, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
- Jim McNerney, former chairman, president, and CEO of Boeing
- Adebayo “Bayo” Ogunlesi, chairman and managing partner, Global Infrastructure Partners
- Ginni Rometty, chairwoman, president, and CEO of IBM
- Kevin Warsh, Shepard Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow in economics at the Hoover Institute, former member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
- Mark Weinberger, global chairman and CEO, EY
- Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO, General Electric
- Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize winner, vice chairman of IHS Markit