A former Trump Administration official, Derek Kan, is working as an advisor to Oaktree Capital Group focusing on infrastructure and emerging technology, sources confirmed for Buyouts.
The move is the latest in the two-way flow of talent to and from the government and the private equity world. The incoming Biden administration has already tapped the industry for several high-level positions, including secretary of state.
Kan has worked for the Trump administration since 2017, starting in the Department of Transportation until 2019, when he became deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.
He left the administration in December, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Kan is working with Oaktree’s transportation and infrastructure group, a source told Buyouts. “Given [the] role at DOT, [Kan] helped identify trends of new transportation technologies and how they are going to change transportation and logistics systems,” the source said.
While Kan will be advising Oaktree, he is not an employee, one of the sources said. Many firms work with a bench of advisors who aren’t full-time employees. This classification is important because employees are compensated through the management fees of the funds, paid by the fund limited partners. Outside advisors often have different compensation arrangements, all of which need to be transparent to the LPs.
Kan has worked in and out of government through his career. He worked as a general manager at Lyft from 2015 to 2017, before which he worked as director of strategy at GenapSys from 2014 to 2015, his profile said.
He worked at Bain & Co from 2012 to 2014, and spent four years in various positions with the US Senate, including as a policy advisor and chief economist in the Senate Republican leader’s office. He also worked for more than a year as a program examiner in the Office of Management and Budget, his profile said.
Biden, meanwhile, named Antony Blinken as his choice for secretary of state. He also chose ex-General Lloyd Austin for secretary of defense. Blinken and Austin both previously worked for Pine Island Capital, which was formed in 2018 by ex-Merrill Lynch chief John Thain and former Goldman Sachs executive Phil Cooper.
Both Blinken and Austin will face a vigorous Senate confirmation process to be able to officially move into those roles.
Update: This report was updated with more information about the nature of Kan’s advisory role.