REVOLVING DOOR WATCH: UBS Just Hired Obama’s Former Deputy Chief Of Staff To Head Macro Analysis

mona sutphen
Mona Sutphen

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UBS just recruited two Washington insiders for cardinal roles in its prized wealth management division.One of them is Mona Sutphen.

The 41-year-old was previously Obama’s deputy chief of staff, and she’s been hired to head up macro analysis for the bank.

Sutphen was a power player in Obama’s coterie — more than just a deputy chief of staff, she advised Obama on domestic policy and international issues. (She’s also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and under President Clinton, served on the National Security Council).

Sutphen was labelled one of “seven behind-the-scenes economic players you need to know in the Obama administration” by Portfolio, and was described in the article as “Rahm’s Rahm, the deputy who has to make sure that the trains run on time and ensure that the White House is truly a smooth-running machine.”

Obviously she’s well versed in political manoeuvring, which will be as useful at UBS as it was in the White House. 

Before she landed in the Obama camp in 2008, Sutphen was a managing director at Stonebridge International, where she advised Fortune 500 companies and other global firms. Stonebridge is a Washington-based business strategy firm that was run by a former Clinton colleague and mentor, and she was able to “cement her ties to foreign leaders” in her time there. We’re guessing UBS liked that part of her resume a lot.

In a Washington Post profile, she’s “described by current and former colleagues as very smart, driven and matter of fact” and “smart as hell, practical, idealistic, nice and tough.”

And the list of achievements goes on.

  • She had posting a worked on the Dayton Peace Accords, which as we know, ended the war in Bosnia.
  • She ran the human rights portfolio for Burma at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok. 
  • She’s fluent in five languages, including Mandarin.
  • She’s also an author; she co-wrote “The Next American Century: How the U.S. Can Thrive as Other Powers Rise.”
  • She has a B.A. in international relations from Mount Holyoke College and an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics.
  • She’s a specialist on China, Japan, the Koreas and other East Asian issues — with all banks looking eastward, this was probably one of the most appealing elements to UBS

She’s the daughter of a Jewish mother and an African American father, and according to the Post, when her parents were dating in the early 60s in Kansas City Missouri, interracial marriage was illegal so they drove across the river into Kansas during their lunch break “for a clandestine wedding ceremony.”

As for Sutphen’s husband, Clyde Williams — well he’s equally as impressive. He’s the political director for the Democratic National Committee.

The power couple first met in back in the late 90s in the White House Situation Room. At the time, Sutphen was working for then-National Security Adviser Sandy Berger; Williams was working for Clinton, helping to plan the 1998 Israeli-Palestinian talks in Maryland. They met during one of the planning sessions, and they tied the knot in 2001 and have since had two children.

Politico included the pair in their “15 Obama Administration Power Couples.”

For UBS, which has been battling the White House for years over American taxpayer evasion, we’re guessing Sutphen will certainly help, not hinder the bank’s reputation here, both with wealthy clients, and Washington.

Now don’t miss what Obama really thinks of Wall Street  >

*A quick note on the other Washington hire: Alexander Friedman, who’s been hired as head as CIO (a newly created position) worked in the defence department under Clinton and was the CFO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He was previously CFO at Lazard