As Exxon's top exec, Tillerson seems to have gained the majority of his international experience making business deals abroad and developing close ties to Russia. In 2013, Vladimir Putin gave him the "Order of the Friendship" award, and Exxon currently has major deals in place in Russia that could move forward should the US loosen its sanctions, the New York Times reports.
The Senate still has to approve Tillerson for the top diplomat job and a number of top Republicans have been vocally critical of the pick. Senators John McCain and Marco Rubio have already expressed their concerns about Tillerson's lack of experience and coziness with Russia.
"When he gets the friendship award from a butcher, frankly, it's an issue that I think needs to be examined," McCain told FOX News on Sunday.
Trump and his allies, on the other hand, have defended placing America's foreign interests in the hands of a government outsider.
"It's not like Vladimir Putin and Rex Tillerson are pounding down vodka at the local bar," Kellyanne Conway, a top aide to Trump, told Good Morning America on Monday. So there's that.