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Chris Liddell
Chris Liddell official photo.jpg
White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Coordination
In office
19 March 2018 – 20 January 2021
President Donald Trump
Preceded by Rick Dearborn (Policy)
Succeeded by Jen O'Malley Dillon
Bruce Reed
Personal details
Christopher Pell Liddell

(1958-04-24) 24 April 1958 (age 65)
Matamata, New Zealand
Citizenship United States
New Zealand
Political party Republican
Spouse Renee Harbers Liddell (m. 2011)
Education University of Auckland (BE)
Worcester College, Oxford (MPhil)

Christopher Pell Liddell CNZM (born 24 April 1958) is a New Zealand-American businessperson who served as Chief Financial Officer of Microsoft, the Vice Chairman of General Motors, Senior Vice President and CFO of International Paper, Director and Chairman of Xero and the White House Deputy Chief of Staff in the Trump Administration.

Liddell has been active in a number of philanthropic projects, mostly in his native New Zealand and in the 2016 New Year Honours, he was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business and philanthropy.


Liddell was born in Matamata, New Zealand, the youngest of five siblings. His father was a school teacher and died while Liddell was young. His mother supported Liddell and his siblings by working a variety of jobs, including at Smith & Caughey's in Auckland. Liddell received his secondary education at Mount Albert Grammar School. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree with honors from the University of Auckland and a Master of Philosophy degree from Worcester College, Oxford University. He was named one of Auckland University's Distinguished Alumni in 2003.


He has been married to Renee Harbers Liddell, since 2011.



In 1983, Liddell took up a position at investment bank Jarden & Co which would morph into Credit Suisse First Boston's operation in New Zealand and finally Jarden today. He rose to the role of joint-CEO and managing director of CS First Boston NZ.

In 1995, he joined Carter Holt Harvey as chief financial officer. Four years later he was chief executive officer - the first New Zealander to be appointed by majority shareholder International Paper, which had previously sent Americans David Oskin and John Faraci down to head the company. When Liddell left Carter Holt Harvey, the company was New Zealand's largest forest owner managing around 330,000 hectares and the country's second largest listed company by market capitalization, with sales of NZ$3.75 billion.

From 2003, Liddell served as CFO of Carter Holt Harvey's parent company International Paper until 2005. During his tenure, Liddell was credited with building a world-class finance function that redesigned and substantially improved the company’s business resource allocation and internal control processes; was actively involved in the company’s cost-reduction initiatives; and drove and managed business strategy, including several important M&A transactions. "Chris has played a pivotal role as the chief executive officer of Carter Holt Harvey, and more recently, as the chief financial officer of International Paper. We will very much miss having Chris on our leadership team", stated then CEO John V. Faraci in an announcement.

Liddell was a senior vice president and CFO of Microsoft, where, from 2005 to December 2009, he was responsible for leading their worldwide finance organization. "Chris brings great talent and skills both in finance and in business leadership," said Steve Ballmer, then chief executive officer at Microsoft. "Having been both CEO and CFO of international companies gives him the ability to contribute broadly to our finance, operations and business strategy." He oversaw Microsoft's acquisition strategy and helped to transform the company by tripling the rate of acquisitions. Under his leadership, Microsoft completed nearly 50 deals in just three years, ranging from small technology firms to the $6 billion acquisition of digital advertising firm aQuantive.

In 2007, he was ranked among the best CFO’s within the software sector globally by Institutional Investor and then in 2010, he was named the New Zealand Business Leader of the Year by the New Zealand Herald.

Liddell served as Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer at General Motors, where he managed the company’s $23 billion IPO in November 2010, which, at that time, which was the largest public offering in history. Chris was a major contributor during a pivotal time in the company’s history," said Daniel Akerson, former GM chairman and CEO. In 2010, GM posted a full-year profit that was its first since 2004 and its largest since 1999.

In 2014, Xero, the cloud-based accounting software developer appointed Liddell as its new chairman. Xero's chief executive and founder Rod Drury said Liddell’s contribution had seen the New Zealand-founded company’s annualized committed monthly revenue (ACMR) triple during his tenure, stating “Chris leaves us in a good position with strong global revenue growth.” Liddell resigned from the New Zealand-based company to take on a new role in United States president-elect Donald Trump's administration.

From 2014 to 2016, he worked as the CFO of Endeavor, a privately held company in the media, sports and entertainment industry.


In 2012, Liddell was executive director of transition planning for the Romney Presidential Campaign and helped author The Romney Readiness Project, a comprehensive presidential transition guide. In 2013, Romney Readiness Project 2012: Retrospectives and Lessons Learned was published. In the foreword, Romney wrote, "My campaign was not successful but our Readiness Project team was."

Liddell advocates for a new approach to presidential transitions called the "Five-Year Presidency." He suggests that presidential candidates should view their term not just as a constitutional four-year term, but as a five-year journey that launches at least a year before the election. Liddell proposes that candidates should focus on key tasks during this "Year Zero" to set themselves up for success, such as assembling a leadership team and preparing for crises.

In January 2017, he was appointed as Assistant to the President for Strategic Initiatives in Donald Trump's White House, He was appointed to the Office of American Innovation (OAI) when it was established on 27 March 2017, where he was focusing on federal IT modernization. He opted to receive the minimum salary required to get health insurance, $30,000. He was also appointed Director of the American Technology Council and was a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. In March 2018 he was picked to replace Rick Dearborn as White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy. In his White House roles he has coordinated administration policy around a number of technology issues, in particular relating to cyber security, and to the Industries of the Future, which include Artificial Intelligence, 5G, Advanced Manufacturing, Quantum Computing and Synthetic Biology.

In May 2018 Chris Liddell voted in favour of separating the children of illegal immigrants from their parents. The vote took place in the White House Situation Room when Stephen Miller (political advisor) asked for a show of hands vote. 2,800 children were separated from their parents. Liddel was White House deputy chief of staff at the time.

He served as the White House lead for the Trillion Trees Initiative, part of the Trillion Tree Campaign, which aims to conserve, restore, and grow a trillion trees around the world by 2030. President Trump signed an Executive Order "Establishing the One Trillion Trees Interagency Council" in October 2020. Liddell oversaw the Administration's contribution, and represented the White House during its engagements with and the Stakeholder Council.

In October 2020 he was nominated by Donald Trump to be the next Secretary-General of the OECD. On 20 January 2021, the OECD confirmed that Liddell had withdrawn his nomination to serve as the Secretary-General of the OECD.

New Zealand's government did not make a decision to support the nomination. The left-wing Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand said he should be rejected as his work for Trump had eroded multilateral approaches in the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization. The right-wing New Zealand National Party said it would be in New Zealand's interest to have a "boy from Matamata" in the role, but later reversed their support for Liddell.

Prior to the 2021 inauguration Liddell called for legislation that "allows a provisional ascertainment to occur so that an incoming administration [and] the president-elect can get security briefings for a lot of the time-sensitive issues regardless of whether the formal election has been settled or not."

Liddell reportedly considered resigning after the January 6 United States Capitol attack in Washington D.C., but announced he would stay on to ensure a smooth transition to President elect Joe Biden. Liddell had a key role in the transition.

David Marchick elaborated on Liddell’s role in the tumult of the translation in his book The Peaceful Transfer of Power: An Oral History of America’s Presidential Transitions, noting that while Presidential transitions are incredibly complicated endeavors in the best of circumstances, Liddell had ”kept order, done heroic work in an impossible environment.”

Author, documentary filmmaker, and White House historian Chris Whipple, in a preview chapter on the transition from his book on the Biden White House, The Fight of His Life, published in Vanity Fair, said that Liddell “helped make the transfer of power possible, becoming an unlikely leader of a plot to save democracy.”


Liddell is founding chairman of the Next Foundation, a NZD $100 million dollar foundation in New Zealand focused on environmental and education projects. Next has funded projects such as Project Taranaki Mounga, a ten-year project to control pests and re-introduce nature birds in the 34,000 ha of Egmont National Park, and Predator Free Wellington City, a partnership to make Wellington the first predator free capital in the world. Liddell was a signatory to the Tomorrow Accord, an agreement between the New Zealand government and NEXT to focus on large scale ecological restoration projects, and commit to maintaining their ecological benefits in perpetuity.

In 2001, Liddell was on the conference committee for the Catching the Knowledge Wave project, one of the biggest meeting of minds to take place in New Zealand history. The conference hosted about 450 academics, officials, politicians, economists and business leaders who discussed ways of lifting New Zealand’s economic performance. Led by the New Zealand Prime Minister and the Vice Chancellor of the University of Auckland, it was a catalyst for the realization that New Zealand could no longer remain primarily a producer of agricultural commodities but instead transform itself to a high-value, knowledge-based economy.

In 2006, he was a recipient of the Kea World Class New Zealand Award.

In 2008, Liddell was patron of the University of Auckland’s inaugural Leading the Way fundraising campaign. The campaign sought to raise NZD $100 million to support teaching, research and community service activities and eventually achieved NZD $120 million in philanthropic support.

He was chairman of Project Crimson, a conservation group, and was active in a number of environmental projects in New Zealand, such as the restoration of Rotoroa Island and the Abel Tasman National Park. Liddell was a founding trustee of Pure Advantage, a registered New Zealand charity, which supports a broad range of sustainability, regenerative and green growth-focused research activities.

He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

In 2017, Liddell and his brother, John, donated $1 million to Mount Albert Grammar primarily to fund teacher and pupil scholarships. Later that year, Liddell donated $450,000 to Auckland University to fund a postgraduate scholarship to Worcester College, Oxford.

In 2021, Liddell joined the Blavatnik School of Government on a Transformational Leadership Fellowship. In 2022, Karthik Ramanna and Liddell raised philanthropic funding to help drive further carbon accounting pilots of the E-liability accounting method, resulting in the creation of the E-liability Institute, where Liddell serves as Chairman.

Liddell has served as trustee of the New Zealand Sports Foundation and as a director of the New Zealand Rugby Union. He was the driving force behind the purchase of Peter Snell's 1964 Tokyo Olympics running singlet for Te Papa Museum. He spearheaded and funded a campaign to assemble and publicly display the most important All Black jerseys in the team's 120-year history.

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