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Ex-Obama Advisor Zimbabwean Manyika Appointed New Google Senior Vice President

U.S. President Barack Obama, right, greets James Manyika, director of the McKinsey Global Institute and senior partner at McKinsey & Co., at the start of roundtable meeting titled "Insourcing American Jobs" in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012. Obama invited representatives from more than a dozen companies including Ford Motor Co. and Intel Corp. to the White House for a forum on bringing jobs back to the U.S. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former American President Barack Obama’s advisor, Zimbabwean-American James Manyika, a senior partner emeritus at McKinsey & Company, and chairman and director emeritus of McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), previously a member of McKinsey’s board, known as the Shareholders Council is now the Senior Vice President of Technology and Society at Google, a newly-created position reporting directly to the CEO of Alphabet.

James was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as vice chair of the Global Development Council at the White House and by two US Commerce Secretaries to the Digital Economy Board and to the National Innovation Board as part of the Competes Act. He serves on the board of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and is a member of the Trilateral Commission. He has served on several national and international taskforces, most recently cochairing CFR’s taskforce on innovation and national security, and appointed by the governor to cochair the state of California’s future of work commission.

He is involved in research institutes including serving on the board of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and advisory boards at Oxford, MIT, LSE, and Stanford, including as a member of the steering committee for the 100-year study of AI, and at Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research. He has been appointed a visiting professor at Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government, and a member

James Manyika now in charge of finding out tech’s impact on society for Google makes him the company’s first Senior VP of Technology and Society.

The position will report to Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai and focuses on how tech affects society.

“I’m thrilled that James Manyika will be joining Google’s leadership team,” said in a statement. “He’s spent decades working at the intersection of technology and society and has advised a number of businesses, academic institutions and governments along the way.”

A Google spokesperson said Manyika’s role works on “shaping and sharing” the company’s view on the way tech affects society, the economy and the planet. His areas of focus include the future of work, sustainability and the impact of AI.

Big Tech has long faced accusations that it’s a detriment to society, and thinks it can address those criticisms more directly. Manyika will help explore tech’s impact on society and shape the firm’s points of view on subjects including AI, the future of work, sustainability and other areas that could make a significant difference.

Manyika has spent 28 years at McKinsey, which helps companies and governments (including tech leaders) make decisions based on economic and cultural trends like those Google hopes to address. He also serves on the boards of research institutes at Harvard, MIT, Oxford, Stanford and other top-tier schools. If anyone is likely to be aware of tech’s broader effects on the world, it’s him.

Google’s move certainly isn’t surprising. It comes as the company is facing a host of antitrust lawsuits, increasingly tougher regulations and protests over its treatment of employees. There are also claims Google and Big Tech haven’t done enough to fight misinformation and are eroding privacy. The new executive won’t necessarily adjust all of Google’s behavior, but he could provide a more informed perspective that reduces the chances of a cultural or political backlash.


The Zimbabwean-American
Chairman Emeritus, McKinsey Global Institute, and Senior Partner, Emeritus, Bay Area who previously led research on global economic and technology trends and served many of the world’s leading high tech companies on growth, innovation, and strategy is the same level if not higher than most tech minds who include Meta’s Zuckerberg, Twitter’s owners, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos amongst many.

Based in Silicon Valley for more than 20 years, James has advised American Presidents, world leaders, the chief executives and founders of many of the world’s leading tech companies on strategy and growth, product, and business innovation. He has also advised other chief executives outside the tech sector on issues related to innovation, the digital economy, and other global trends. In addition to his leadership of MGI, James has led research on technology’s impact on business and the economy, the future of work, productivity and competitiveness, and corporations in the 21st century. James published a book on AI and robotics earlier in his career, more recently published No Ordinary Disruption on global economic trends, and continues to publish numerous articles and reports.

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