Rex Wayne Tillerson (b. March 23, 1952) was sworn in as the 69th secretary of state for the United States on February 1, 2017, to serve under President Donald J. Trump. Tillerson served as CEO and chairman of ExxonMobil from 2006 to 2016. His entire career was spent at this company, making him the first secretary of state with no prior experience in the government or military.
Tillerson — the second of three children — spent his childhood in Texas and Oklahoma, moving between small towns with his family. His father left a job selling bread to be a professional organizer for the Boy Scouts of America; Tillerson became a dedicated member of the organization who attained the rank of Eagle Scout.
Tillerson graduated from Huntsville High in Texas and went on to the University of Texas at Austin. There, he studied civil engineering and played in the Longhorn marching band.
Like his father, Tillerson stayed connected to scouting as an adult. In addition to joining the boards of the national and Dallas chapters, he served as national president of the Boy Scouts of America from 2010 to 2012. In this role Tillerson supported the inclusion of gay scouts.
Tillerson served as CEO and chairman of ExxonMobil from 2006 to 2016. This put him in charge of a company with around 80,000 employees and annual revenues of $400 billion. He started there as a production engineer in 1975, after graduating college.
Tillerson thrived in Exxon's corporate culture and ended up in charge of overseas operations, which were driven by the pressing need for new oil reserves. To protect the company's investments, Tillerson had to evaluate global conditions in countries as diverse as Venezuela, Nigeria and Iraq. He received assistance in this from the International Government Relations Group at Exxon, whose staff included former State Department employees.
Tillerson didn't associate with Donald Trump before the election, and his selection for secretary of state in December 2016 came as a surprise. The then president-elect had been considering picks such as 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor. Tillerson's name was thrown in the ring when former Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested it to Trump.