The challenge of our generation

February 14, 2020, 10:54 AM UTC

This is the web version of CEO Daily. To get it delivered to your inbox, sign up here.

Good morning.

Big business has had a bumpy working relationship with the Trump administration—marred by disagreements over trade, immigration, and the President’s response to the Charlottesville riots. But a select group of CEOs has continued to work closely with the White House—and particularly with First Daughter Ivanka Trump—on one of the most important issues of our era: reskilling Americans for the coming technological tsunami.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty (who is soon to retire) has been one of the leaders, focusing in particular on the notion that a four-year college degree shouldn’t be the only path to workplace success. Creating alternative pathways “has to be a public-private partnership to be successful,” she says.

Apple CEO Tim Cook also has been active. “This is one of the greatest challenges of our generation,” he told me. “It’s a nonpartisan thing. We are all about engaging on policy. We stay away from politics.”

All the CEOs I talked with praised Ivanka Trump’s leadership of the effort. “She is the greatest cheerleader for the workforce, maybe on the planet right now,” said Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff…who doesn’t agree with the administration on much. “Administrations change. My values don’t change. I can work with anyone.”

Other CEOs on the Workforce Policy Advisory Board include Walmart’s Doug McMillon, Visa’s Al Kelly, and Lockheed Martin’s Marillyn Hewson. Are they moving fast enough to meet the challenge ahead? “It’s not fast enough yet,” says Rometty. “But the momentum is definitely building.”

You can read more about the effort in the March edition of Fortune magazine, or online this morning here. And keep your eyes peeled for the public service ad campaign being launched in March by the Ad Council, publicizing alternatives to four-year degrees.

Other news below.

Alan Murray


Huawei charges

The U.S. has dialed up the pressure on Huawei by hitting the Chinese firm with new charges: racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to steal trade secrets. Previous charges covered financial fraud and sanctions violations. Huawei: "This new indictment is part of the Justice Department’s attempt to irrevocably damage Huawei’s reputation and its business for reasons related to competition rather than law enforcement." Wall Street Journal

Amazon force

Amazon has forced a pause in the U.S. Defense Department's $10 billion JEDI cloud contract with Microsoft. A Federal Claims Court judge granted Amazon an injunction Thursday, while the case goes ahead. Amazon alleges that it lost out on the military contract because of pressure from President Trump, who is less than keen on CEO Jeff Bezos and his Washington Post. BBC

Big tax

Facebook accepts that global Big Tech tax reform will mean it needs to pay more tax in more places, CEO Mark Zuckerberg will reportedly say in a speech tomorrow. "I understand that there’s frustration about how tech companies are taxed in Europe. We also want tax reform and I’m glad the OECD is looking at this," Zuckerberg will apparently say, per Politico. Reuters

Coronavirus recession

Singapore's prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, has warned that his country may go into recession as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. Lee said the economic impact of the coronavirus has already surpassed that of SARS some 17 years ago—a time when the economies of the region were much less interlinked. The Star


Handshake alternatives

With conferences discouraging people from shaking hands, given fears over the spread of Covid-19, how should people greet each other and agree deals instead? Suggestions include waving, bowing and clasping hands at chest height. Fortune

Deripaska sanctions

Why did the U.S. hit Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska with sanctions in 2018? Turns out it's because Deripaska was in 2016 "reportedly identified as one of the individuals holding assets and laundering funds on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin." Financial Times

U.K. reshuffle

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reshuffled his cabinet yesterday—a little more than intended. After being told he had to replace all his advisers, Chancellor (i.e. top finance minister) Sajid Javid quit instead. His replacement is Rishi Sunak, a young minister who unlike Javid was keen on Brexit from the start, and who will have to share Johnson's advisers. The significance cannot be overstated. The balance of power in the U.K. government has always been defined by a healthy tension between the prime minister and chancellor. No longer, perhaps. HuffPost

Climate church

The Church of England has brought forward its net-zero-emissions target from 2045 to 2030, following a Wednesday vote. As Fortune's Katherine Dunn reports: "In setting an operational net zero target, it faces many of the same broad challenges facing governments, companies, and institutions alike: lingering uncertainty over the specifics of how the goal can be met, and how quickly; a lack of clarity on how much the total push will cost; and even how much carbon the Church currently emits." Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

Read More

CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet