As part of a realignment of his top staff, Gov. Bill Haslam named a former IBM executive as “chief operating officer” for state government Tuesday and tasked him with increasing oversight of various departments in state government.
Greg Adams, 58, has spent 37 years with IBM, most recently as a managing director in its financial service factor. His state salary will be $165,000 per year and begin serving July 8, according to a gubernatorial spokesman.
The move comes after Claude Ramsey, deputy to the governor, announced earlier his retirement effective Aug. 31, and Mark Cate was elevated from senior adviser to chief of staff. Ramsey’s salary is $187,452 per year; Cate’s $155,000.
The governor said Adams is “not a replacement” for Ramsey because “he’s going to do a very different job, but that there are “no plans right now” to name a new deputy.
“Now that I’ve been governor for two and a half years, I realize one of the things that is hardest about being governor for me is that I can’t spend the time I would like with each department.”
Adams will spend his time focusing on the inner workings of state government, he said, while Cate will pay attention to “political and policy” matters.
He remarked that Adams at his previous job stepped in when “IBM kind of got off track,” but quickly replied in the negative when asked that whether that meant some state government departments had gotten off track and needed Adams’ skills.
Two Haslam commissioners – Karla Davis at the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and Kate O’Day at the Department of Children’s Services – have resigned in recent months amid controversy and lawsuits.
Neither had prior experience in state government when they when they were appointed by Haslam and both have been replaced by commissioner who do have state government background and have made several changes in policy and personnel to improve operations.
Asked if Adams could not be seen as another “outsider,” Haslam replied:
“Actually, we have a whole lot of folks who were from outside state government who are doing outstanding jobs.”
The governor said he initially met Adams in the 1980s and has been trying “for some time” to get him to join the administration. For Adams, who dealt with 400,000 employees at IBM, state government with 40,000 employees is a relatively small operation, Haslam said.
“He’s used to a big environment with different points of responsibility and authority,” the governor said.
Here’s the the news release:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Greg Adams will join the governor’s senior team as chief operating officer. In the governor’s ongoing effort to make Tennessee the best managed state in the nation, Adams’ role will be to work with state departments to ensure they’re operating in the most efficient and effective way possible.
“Greg brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to state government,” Haslam said. “It says a lot for our state that we’re able to attract this caliber of talent. Greg will bring a fresh perspective to the work we’re doing every day to serve Tennessee taxpayers in the most efficient and effective way. I am grateful that he is willing to serve in this capacity.”
Adams, 58, comes to state government from IBM where he served as a member of the company’s senior leadership team, most recently as a managing director in the financial services sector. He spent nearly 37 years at IBM in positions in sales, marketing, operations, reengineering, and quality and general management.
Early in his career he spent two years in Knoxville as branch manager of IBM’s East Tennessee operations and then moved to Nashville where he was regional manager of the Mid-South region. After that he served as managing director of operations and board member for IBM Japan in Tokyo. In 1994 he moved to New York where he spent 11 years with the company in different roles ranging from general manager of process industries for IBM North America to vice president of small and medium business for Canada, the United States and Latin America. He moved to Atlanta in 2005.
“I am excited to work with Gov. Haslam and join his senior team in this new role,” Adams said. “This is a unique opportunity to apply my experience and skills in the public sector, and I look forward to being back in Tennessee. Not only have I lived and worked in Knoxville and Nashville, we have several proud graduates of Tennessee universities in my family. It will be great to be back.”
Adams earned a Bachelor of Science and Engineering degree from Princeton University in 1976 and a master’s in science and management from M.I.T. in 1989. He’s been married to his wife, Jeannine, for 36 years and has three married children and five grandchildren. He will begin his new role on Monday, July 8.