James Manyika, a former senior partner at consulting firm McKinsey & Company, has joined Google to serve in the newly created role of senior vice president of technology and society.
Manyika, who spent the last thirteen years as chairman of the firm’s thinktank McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), will report directly to Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
Rather than being a more philanthropy-geared “head of social impact” position commonly seen at other tech giants, Manyika’s role will take a broader view of how technology is impacting society. He will be tasked with shaping and sharing Google’s views on issues such as the future of work, AI, the digital economy, computing infrastructure, and sustainability, and how they affect society, the economy, and the planet.
The new appointment arrives as tech firms such as Alphabet and Meta face mounting criticism about the negative effects of their products and corporate practices. The evolving usage of the internet and social media has been eliciting more vocal concerns about its role in misinformation, radicalization, the undermining democratic institutions, erosion of social trust, bullying, depression, and mental illness. Privacy concerns and the troublesome business model of harvesting consumer data for money is another issue.
Google more narrowly is facing several antitrust lawsuits alongside tougher government regulations and criticism of its treatment of employees.
Manyika brings a particularly glossy resume to Google. He has spent the past 28 years at McKinsey, among the largest and most prestigious global management consultancies, where he was a board member since 2016 and chairman and director of MGI since 2009.
Manyika was based in the firm’s Silicon Valley office for over 20 years, where he advised leading tech companies on strategy and growth, product, and business innovation. As chairman of MGI, he led research on emerging technologies’ impacts on business and the economy, the future of work, productivity and competitiveness, and other trends.
Manyika was appointed by President Obama as vice chair of the White House’s global development council. He serves on the boards of research institutions at Harvard, MIT, Oxford, and Stanford and is a visiting professor at Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford.
A Rhodes Scholar, James has DPhil, MS, and MA degrees from Oxford in AI and robotics, mathematics, and computer science, as well as a BS in electrical engineering from the University of Zimbabwe.