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Trump’s Corporate Network Shrinks by 1,800 Executives After CEO Councils Disband

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August 28, 2017

The news earlier this month that both CEO councils held by President Trump would disband sent shockwaves across the political and corporate landscapes. Though not every CEO had planned to leave these presidential advisory groups, a critical mass of departures led to the President tweeting that they would be discontinued.


Prior to that announcement, CNN had kept a running list of executives that were stepping away (or had already) based on a variety of factors, most recently Trump’s comments following the Charlottesville rally and protests. Reasons for departure also included the announcement earlier this summer that the U.S. would exit the Paris Climate Agreement.

Regardless of what happens behind the scenes from here on out, the end of these councils has not only symbolic importance, but also practical ramifications.

Specifically, Equilar analyzed the corporate connections for the CEOs, former CEOs and board members that were on these councils per the CNN list, and found that they collectively had nearly 1,800 professional connections at over 1,300 public companies, according to Equilar BoardEdge data. Those connections include people they have directly worked with either on a board of directors or as a colleague to one of the top five named executive officers disclosed in proxy statements dating back to 2000.

As an example, James McNerney, a now-former member of the Strategic and Policy Forum, is the most “connected” individual among either group. During his executive and board career, he has had direct working relationships with 134 individuals at 105 companies in the C-suite and boardroom. To examine further what this data represents and those people and companies with whom McNerney is connected—now the chairman of the board at Procter & Gamble—click the image or button below to download his profile.


Download Executive and Board Connections

In short, the influence of these 31 individuals extends directly by a factor of 60x just based on the connections they have to other public company leaders. The full list of executives with connections data in BoardEdge is at the bottom of this article.

While the President and his Administration will certainly maintain contact with leaders of the largest U.S. corporations, the decline of these councils represents a break with past practice at the White House. Furthermore, as The Wall Street Journal noted in a lengthy front-page feature, Trump has had an uneasy relationship with many prominent CEOs since well before he entered the White House, and without these official links to the top corner offices across the U.S., there may be more incentive for top leaders to speak out against issues with which they disagree.

There are more complicated factors here, of course. For all of the social and political policies that have been opposed by some corporate leaders, many CEOs are supportive of Trump’s campaign promises that would see lowered corporate tax rates or relaxed banking regulations. As The New York Times feature linked above notes in detail, executives are on both sides of the coin and they face not only personal but also professional risks when they take a position. Losing the corporate connections via CEO councils may be downplayed in the White House, and indeed it may have little real impact on business as usual in Washington and across corporate America. But the ripple effect that passes through thousands of individuals and companies in these corporate networks based on these events is undeniable.

Trump CEO Council Members: Corporate Connections

Andrew Liveris Dow Chemical 105 72
Wendell Weeks Corning 85 64
Denise Morrison Campbell Soup 79 72
Marillyn A. Hewson Lockheed Martin 71 54
Inge Thulin 3M 70 51
Michael Polk Newell Brands 68 49
Mario Longhi U.S. Steel (former CEO) 62 40
Mark Fields Ford (former CEO) 62 45
Michael Dell Dell 58 53
Kenneth Frazier Merck 55 45
Dennis Muilenburg Boeing 53 59
William M. Brown Harris Corporation 52 54
Jeff Fettig Whirlpool 50 44
Alex Gorsky Johnson & Johnson 50 39
Greg Hayes United Technologies 50 43
Jeff Immelt GE 46 37
Mark Sutton International Paper 44 31
Brian Krzanich Intel 42 41
Rich Kyle Timken 40 23
Elon Musk Tesla 35 11
Kevin Plank Under Armour 32 17
Jim Kamsickas Dana 16 10
James McNerney Boeing (former CEO) 134 105
Indra Nooyi PepsiCo 85 73
Adebayo Ogunlesi Global Infrastructure Partners 69 25
Jamie Dimon JPMorgan Chase 67 47
Virginia Rometty IBM 56 31
Bob Iger Disney 52 31
Mary Barra GM 51 35
Doug McMillon Wal-Mart 36 32
Stephen Schwarzman Blackstone 18 18

*This list of executives was generated from a recent CNN article reporting on the CEO councils.

Reach out to Equilar to learn more about BoardEdge connections or request a download of any of the CEOs or board members mentioned in this article, as well as any of the -plus executives and board members in the database. Include specific requests for individual downloads in the comment field.

Dan Marcec, Director of Content & Communications at Equilar, authored this post. Please contact him at for more information on Equilar content and data analysis. Cydney Myers, associate editor, contributed research to this article.

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