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ICYMI: Rex Tillerson’s Work Outside Of Boardroom Offers Clues To State Style

- January 11, 2017

Excerpts from The Wall Street Journal 


By: Felicia Schwartz & Bradley Olson 
Tuesday, January 10, 2017

“Rex Tillerson was a 16-year-old janitor at Oklahoma State University earning $1 an hour when his conversations with students working late on projects in the school’s labs put him on the path toward an engineering degree.
 
‘I think God put me in that electrical engineering building because I’d be there late in the evenings,’ he told a group of students at Texas Tech University in 2015. ‘It’s funny how things take you where you’re supposed to be.’
 
“Mr. Tillerson, Exxon Mobil Corp.’s former chief executive officer, on Wednesday will appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for a hearing that could lead to his next chapter: serving as President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state …
  
“He brushed elbows with Democrats while serving on the board at Ford’s Theatre in Washington; he made a friend of a Hillary Clinton supporter while serving on a jury in Texas; and he forged a close relationship with the man who would recommend him to Mr. Trump while serving on the Boy Scouts of America board. He has said he begins each day with 20 minutes of Bible reading and, according to friends, often ends them with Jack Daniels.
 
‘He’s someone who understands ‘big p politics’ and ‘little p politics,’’ said lobbyist Heather Podesta, who served with him on the Ford’s Theatre board, adding that she has advised concerned Democratic friends to ‘withhold judgment until you meet him’ …
  
“Mr. Tillerson’s broader experience could help inform those people concerned about whether the contacts he has made while cutting business deals internationally will translate effectively to his new, proposed post.
 
‘Business interests don’t always align with diplomatic interests,’ said Douglas Brinkley, a professor of history at Rice University. ‘Problems with the environment, human rights or sanctions become less worrisome to business leaders, as they are focused on profit. Sometimes, the art of diplomacy is about nuance, shades of gray. It’s not about the bottom line.’
 
“Mr. Tillerson was set to retire from Exxon in March and told friends he was planning to spend time on a ranch in Texas. His coming nomination to be secretary of state, at the suggestion of former Boy Scout president and Defense Secretary Bob Gates, surprised some of those who know him" …

Read the full article here


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