In an amazing turn for recent adversaries, it seems that Obama has all but offered Hillary the most prestigious post in his cabinet - Secretary of State. A surprising offer to a woman whose foreign policy experience Obama once dismissed as having tea with ambassadors. But party faithful are now falling in line. Even Bill Clinton has indicated he will clear the way or her to accept the role.
But should she take it?
That is a bit more complicated, and for Hillary requires taking both the short and long view. When evaluating any type of career decision, I always suggest that people view each decision as an investment, and evaluate each investment the way sophisticated business people do. You must understand the short term return, but you must also consider the "option value" of that decision.
Taking an example from business, let's say a company wants to build a new plant in Germany. They calculate that the plant will pay for itself over a five-year period. But the plant will also create new production capacity, and open the doors to new products or even additional geographic expansion. The company doesn't have to create new products or expand, but it has the option to, and that option has real value. Career "investments" work the same way.
So back to Hillary. Certainly accepting the role would be prestigious, almost historic. She would gain international experience and exposure. And she wouldn't have to begin campaigning shortly for a new term in the Senate - a seat she would certainly win, but a campaign nonetheless.
But what would be the impact on her future career options? Many have suggested that accepting this position may actually hurt her chances of running again in 2012, or even 2016. She would be working under the person she may aspire to unseat. Obama could manage her tightly, limiting her public exposure. He could even use this move to more tightly control husband Bill, who has a proclivity for foreign policy freelancing.
It is a gracious offer and a great opportunity, one that most would accept. But in the end, it will likely be an evaluation of the future options created or destroyed that will lead Hillary to her decision.
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