"Increasingly, large complex organizations require senior executives to be able to navigate both worlds because they're so interdependent,"Taubman says. Among Nides' responsibilities is attracting investment to Afghanistan and Iraq, as the U.S. tries to help put those economies on a stable footing. At a September gathering of U.S. and Indian chief executives including JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) boss Jamie Dimon, PepsiCo. ( PEP) CEO Indra Nooyi, Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata and Honeywell ( HON)CEO David Cote, Nides gave a presentation on business opportunities in Afghanistan. Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin says Nides' private sector experience is an important asset in this context: "Having some understanding of what the private sector is going to think and how are they going to react and what they're going to find attractive and enticing is an important thing and there aren't a lot of folks in government who can do that. That's an important capability that Tom has."
Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman describes Nides as "a really caring guy."
While Nides is happy to see Kate Spade locating some production facilities in Afghanistan, he says business activity outside the mining sector is scarce. "This is not Shanghai. We've got a little work to do," Nides says. Nides is also "taking the lead on something that's very important to the President, which is how do we help the U.S. regain market share in tourism," according to Jeffrey Zients, Chief Performance Officer of the United States--a position in the Office of Management and Budget created by President Obama. Zients says the U.S. global market share in tourism has fallen from 17% to 12%, in part because of backlogs processing tourist visa at U.S. consulates in places such as China, India and Brazil. "Tom jumped on that, is deploying information technology, thinking through how to increase staffing, how to increase productivity overall and is having a measurable impact," according to Zients.