Recollections of Ladd Greeno
This article is part of our continuing feature: Remembering ADL—Stories from Arthur D. Little Alumni. We want to capture our stories before they are lost forever! These recollections are from Ladd Greeno as told to Kathy Thrun.
Ladd Greeno has many fond memories of ADL. A central theme is the company’s remarkable people. Ladd’s first contact with ADL was with Roger Shamel, who was looking for summer interns for the Chemical Management Consulting Section. Though Ladd’s background didn’t match what Roger was looking for, the contact resulted in a captivating, multi-hour interview with Homer Hagedorn in Acorn Park’s Reservation Dining Room and a fascinating overview of ADL.
That interview led to Ladd’s joining ADL and working for John Funkhouser, who was developing approaches to better manage risks from technology advances. As an intern, Ladd worked with Rick Williams of the CMC section on regulatory casework for the US Environmental Protection Agency. He helped write a proposal to Allied Chemical which led to a 15+-year client relationship and the opportunity to work with many ADLers, including Gib Hedstrom and Maryanne DiBerto—that formed the foundation for environmental auditing at ADL, Allied, and many other companies.
Ladd says that many fascinating and quite diverse discussions took place in the Acorn Park cafeteria. On any given day, you could sit in on a conversation totally unrelated to your current work. Topics included advanced battery technology, models for revenue sharing among the teams of the US National Football League, the formation of OPEC, the potential for destroying hazardous waste by sending it to the sun, minimalist manufacturing, knowledge management challenges across huge multi-national corporations, or any of countless other timely topics. What made the conversations so special was not only the subject matter expertise of ADLers, but also the “give and take” spirit of the dialogue.
Some of Ladd’s other recollections center on landmark assignments. For example, in the wake of the Bhopal tragedy, both the management and board of Union Carbide Corporation were looking for expert advisors. While their legal advisors suggested they each hire separate consultants, both concluded that ADL was far superior to all other options and, given the extremely high stakes, neither would accept not hiring ADL.
Ashok Kalelkar led a team that went to India and investigated the factors that led to the accident. Ultimately, Ashok presented the ADL/UCC findings at a major Chemical Engineering Conference in London. Other ADLers visited US plants to determine whether similar risks and vulnerabilities were present. ADL worked closely with management and the Carbide board for 16 years, right up until Carbide was acquired by Dow Chemical in 2001.
Another unforgettable assignment was led by Paul Boehm. Within a few days of the major oil spill from the Exxon Valdez tanker in Prince William Sound in the Gulf of Alaska, both the State of Alaska and Exxon Corporation wanted ADL’s assistance. ADL took on a large Natural Resource Damage Assessment assignment for Exxon with an “all hands on deck” effort to collect marine life specimens and samples ahead of the impact from hydrocarbons spilled by the tanker. Paul and his team were chartering dozens of vessels, while the Acorn Park facilities team was replacing desks with deep freezers in many building 15 offices. Paul, Greg Douglas, John Brown, and others employed “Advanced Chemical Fingerprinting” techniques to distinguish the impact of the oil spill from the existing background of years of natural seeps and marine activity in the sound.
Ladd remembers other landmark efforts. Bob Lambe, Dave Langseth, and colleagues helped build the environmental practice by winning a 10-year assignment with the US Environmental Protection Agency to manage “Superfund” clean-ups in New England on major hazardous waste sites. Scott Stricoff and colleagues developed cutting-edge safety and risk assessment work. Shortly after the breakup of the Soviet Union, judi Harris, Kathy Thrun, and colleagues worked to help build environmental remediation capabilities in Belarus. And, while all of this was happening, ADL significantly grew its EHS staff—not only in North America, but also in Europe and Latin America.
Ladd’s recollections of ADL include much travel. One trip took him to Bogotá, Colombia for community outreach meetings being conducted by the regional President of British Petroleum. He recalls seeing almost as many armed guards as community participants until the BP executive departed, leaving the ADL contingent to fend for themselves.
A most memorable trip was to Sundsvall, Sweden with Jane Obbagy. Ladd and Jane were trying to make a two-block walk during a “whiteout” blizzard. It seemed to Ladd that they might never find either their destination or their starting place!
Other fond memories come from several of the ADL “Best of the Best” colloquia. These sessions focused on best practices for a subject and assembled a small group of ADLers with a key ADL client from each of several different companies—plus representatives of selected non-client companies. The opportunity to discuss best practices with and among several satisfied ADL clients was special. It was great to learn recently from Maryanne DiBerto that this colloquium concept lives on for environmental auditing in Canada where the Auditing Association of Canada continues to hold similar meetings every other year.
Ladd Greeno spent 25 years at Arthur D. Little. He joined ADL as a summer intern while at Harvard Business School. He initially worked in the Strategy and Organization Practice, then helped build the global Environmental, Health, and Safety Practice, led the North America management consulting business, and became ADL’s CEO.
After leaving ADL in 2002, Ladd became CEO of Agion Technologies, a private-equity-backed company marketing ionic silver antimicrobials. In 2007, he became CEO of Quick-Med Technologies, a company that is developing and commercializing novel non-depleting antimicrobial technology for healthcare and consumer applications. Recently, Ladd became non-executive Chairman of Quick-Med as part of a leadership transition.