President Donald Trump met with his business advisory council, the Strategic and Policy Forum, for the first time Friday morning.
Topics of discussion included tax and trade, regulation, infrastructure, women in the workforce, education, and immigration.
In attendance were 17 high-powered executives along with Vice President Mike Pence and the president’s top aides. Notably absent were Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger, who said he could not attend due to a scheduling conflict, and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, who resigned just a day prior to the meeting in response to pressure from his employees and customers in the wake of Trump’s immigration ban.
As chairman of the council, Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman selected its members, and noted ahead of the meeting that more members may be added in the future.
There were a total of 31 people in attendance around a nine-by-seven-seat table in the White House’s State Dining Room.
We checked in with Columbia Business School management professor Adam Galinsky to point out some highlights of the seating arrangement, since, as he said, “Where people sit has both physical and symbolic effects.”
He used December’s meeting with tech executives as a point of reference.
- While those in attendance were not equally spaced around the table, the relatively square shape of the table — as opposed to having two sides significantly longer than the others, as in the tech meeting — implied “more equal status” and “deference” on Trump’s behalf.
- Though only three of the 17 executives on the council were women, all three sat on Trump’s side of the table, and GM CEO Mary Barra sat directly next to Trump. The layout was “clearly designed to emphasise the participation of women,” since all cameras focused on Trump would get the female executives in the shot.
- Trump’s two family members, his daughter Ivanka and her husband, senior adviser Jared Kushner, are put in corners to lessen their importance in this particular meeting while still having them close to the president.
- Pence, as vice president, is seated directly across from Trump to anchor the meeting. Each of the people on Pence’s side, in direct sight of the president, is a “friendly face.”
Below is a list of those who were in attendance. We have not identified two of the White House aides in attendance but will update if we hear back from the White House.
- President Donald Trump
- Mary Barra — Chairwoman and CEO of General Motors
- Gary Cohn — Chief economic advisor to POTUS and director of the US National Economic Council
- Doug McMillon — President and CEO of Walmart Stores
- Larry Fink — Chairman and CEO of BlackRock
- Jared Kushner — Senior adviser to POTUS
- Rich Lesser — President and CEO of the Boston Consulting Group
- Jim McNerney — Former president and CEO of Boeing
- Reince Priebus — Chief of staff to POTUS
- Paul Atkins — CEO of Patomak Global Partners and former commissioner of the SEC
- Kevin Warsh — Distinguished visiting fellow in economics at the Hoover Institute and former governor of the Federal Reserve System
- Elon Musk — CEO and CTO of SpaceX, CEO of Tesla Inc., chairman of Solar City, co-chairman of OpenAI
- Steve Bannon — Assistant to and chief strategist for POTUS
- Toby Cosgrove — President and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic
- Vice President Mike Pence
- Jamie Dimon — Chairman, president, and CEO of JPMorgan Chase
- Wilbur Ross — Nominee for secretary of commerce
- Reed Cordish — Assistant to POTUS for intragovernmental and technology initiatives
- Stephen Miller — Senior adviser to POTUS
- Daniel Yergin — Pulitzer Prize-winning author and vice chairman of IHS Markit
- Jack Welch — Former chairman and CEO of General Electric
- Chris Liddell — Assistant to POTUS and White House director of strategic initiatives
- Dina Powell — Assistant to POTUS and senior counselor for economic initiatives
- Mark Weinberger — Chairman and CEO of EY
- Ivanka Trump — [Undefined role]
- Adebayo Ogunlesi — Chairman and managing partner at Global Infrastructure Partners
- Ginni Rometty — Chairwoman, president, and CEO of IBM
- Indra Nooyi — Chairwoman and CEO of PepsiCo
- Stephen Schwarzman — Cofounder, chairman, and CEO of Blackstone
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