Three prominent Indian Americans are among the potential Cabinet picks in the forthcoming Joe Biden-Kamala Harris administration, according to media reports.
Former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who currently is the top Indian American adviser to President-elect Biden on COVID-19, is a potential pick for the post of Secretary of Health and Human Services, the reports said.
Former PepsiCo chief executive officer and chairperson Indra Nooyi, who is currently serving as a board member at Amazon, is being considered for the Commerce Secretary position.
Stanford University professor Arun Majumdar would be considered for the post of Secretary of Energy, The Washington Post and Politico said in their reports that mentions a list of potential picks for various Cabinet-level positions in the Biden administration.
Murthy, 43, is currently one of the co-chairs of the COVID-19 advisory board of the transition. He has been a close associate of Biden’s on coronavirus issues, according to the reports.
Similarly, Majumdar, a professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford who served as the first director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, has been a top adviser to Biden on energy related issues, the reports said.
“The office, which is an incubator for nascent energy technologies, has enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress, which may bode well for his chances of being confirmed by the Senate,” reported The Washington Post.
Other potential names for energy secretary are Ernest Moniz, former secretary of energy; Dan Reicher, Stanford University scholar and Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, former deputy secretary of energy.
For replacing Alex Azar as Secretary of Health and Human Services, two other potential names are Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services; and Michelle Lujan Grisham, New Mexico governor, according to the reports.
Murthy was one of the public health experts who briefed Biden frequently about the pandemic during the campaign, they said.
Murthy became the 19th U.S. Surgeon General at the end of 2014, slightly more than a year after his nomination by then President Barack Obama.
During his tenure, he issued a landmark report on drug and alcohol addiction, calling it “a moral test for America” and placing it among reports his predecessors had produced to draw attention to other major public health threats, such as tobacco use, AIDS, the need for physical activity. Since leaving the government, he has written and spoken out about loneliness, his bio notes.
He was a vice-admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service’s commissioned corps and is trained in internal medicine.
Born in Chennai, Nooyi graduated from the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta and later went on to study at Yale School of Management in 1978.
Her journey at PepsiCo started in 1994, where she started as a chief strategist and then soon went on to be PepsiCo’s fifth CEO in 2006.
During her tenure at PepsiCo, its net revenue grew at an annualized rate of 5.5%. When she began her term as the company’s CEO, Nooyi successfully thwarted activist investor Nelson Peltz’s motive to split PepsiCo into two – beverages and snacks to be managed differently.
During Nooyi’s reign, PepsiCo again created a buzz in the stock market – the company’s share price more than doubling during her tenure, her bio notes.
One of Nooyi’s most appreciated work formulas has been her design-led thinking that led to the company’s growth. Experts have documented this approach. She is also known to have frequented markets often to see how PepsiCo’s products were placed on the shelves.
Majumdar is the Jay Precourt Provostial Chair Professor at Stanford University, a faculty member of the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering and co-director of the Precourt Institute for Energy, which integrates and coordinates research and education activities across all seven Schools and the Hoover Institution at Stanford, it said.
He is also on the faculty at the Department of Photon Science at SLAC. In October 2009, Majumdar was nominated by then President Obama and confirmed by the Senate to become the founding director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, where he served till June 2012 and helped ARPA-E become a model of excellence and innovation for the government with bipartisan support from Congress and other stakeholders, it said.
After leaving Washington, D.C., and before joining Stanford, Majumdar was the vice-president for Energy at Google, where he created several energy technology initiatives, especially at the intersection of data, computing and electricity grid. Biden has said that his Cabinet would be the most diverse ever.