Xero chairman Chris Liddell has quit to work for Donald Trump

Outgoing Xero chairman Chris Liddell will become an assistant to US president Donald Trump. Photo: Photo: Steve Fecht

New Zealand-born, US-based businessman and philanthropist Chris Liddell, is stepping down as chairman and a director of accounting software business Xero to become part of the Trump administration.

He will become an assistant to the president when Donald Trump is sworn in early on Saturday morning, Australian time. He was already a member of the transition team.

Trump announced two new senior White House staff appointments on Tuesday. Liddell, a former Microsoft CFO, will become as director of strategic initiatives, while real estate executive Reed Cordish will be 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,” the president-elect said in a statement.

“Their skill sets are exactly what is needed to effect substantial change, including system wide improvement to the performance of the government. I am delighted that they will be part of my executive team.”

It’s not Liddell’s first foray into US conservative politics, having been part of Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign.

US-based Graham Smith, who has been on the Xero board for two years, will take over as independent chairman when Liddell’s resignation comes into effect this Friday. Smith, CFO at Salesforce for six years, is also a director of Citrix, Splunk, MINDBODY and BlackLine, and chair Xero’s audit and risk management committee.

Xero CEO Rod Drury congratulated Liddell, 58, on his appointment.

“We have had the privilege of Chris’ outstanding international leadership as chairman of our board over a key growth period,” he said.

“We wish him all the best in his exciting new role.”

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