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Leading an Environmentally Sustainable Enterprise

04/09/2009 12:00 PM Wong Auditorium
Martin D. Madaus, Chairman, President & CEO, Millipore Corporation

Description: Climate change poses perhaps the premiere threat to coming generations, says Martin Madaus, but to avoid its worst impacts, we must confront the issue now. To that end, Madaus exhorts business leaders to focus immediately on building environmental sustainability into their operations, as he has begun to do at Millipore.

The challenge is figuring out how to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions at safe levels while expanding economies worldwide. In practice, reconciling these objectives involves squeezing more productivity out of each ton of carbon by a factor of 10. "The good news," says Madaus, is that "this is actually doable." Reaching this level of "carbon productivity" entails major public/private spending, but, says Madaus, "This is certainly a good investment, particularly when you consider the mitigation cost of climate catastrophe, which would be unbelievably expensive for all of us."

While government must play a role in establishing regulations and incentives -- especially by imposing an unpopular but essential higher carbon tax -- industries of all kinds must integrate sustainability as a business practice. Madaus offers Millipore as an example of how "being at the cutting edge of environmentalism is a good business idea." His company has focused on changes in products and packaging, and reducing waste in energy, water and waste.

In its biotech tool research and production facilities, Millipore figured out how to upgrade boilers, generators, lighting systems, compressed air piping, and use wind energy to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases by 15% since 2006. "The amazing part of this, it was so doable, because there was so much inefficiency and waste of energy." Millipore's return on new infrastructure investment came in less than two years.

Millipore also developed compostable bio"plastic lab devices, recycling programs for customers, and paradoxically, a disposable product (replacing a large, stainless steel vessel), which ends up saving energy and water throughout its lifecycle. Beyond innovations in product lines and operational efficiency, Madaus says he wants "to make an impact on people's lives so their habits change." Millipore offers incentives for employee to use hybrid vehicles and to make their homes energy efficient, and encourages staff to come forward with ideas for sustainable living. "I wish we could make energy saving and eco"efficiency really cool and interesting; today it's still viewed as a tool, a behavior change."

These small steps are just the start, and Madaus sees a 20% reduction in greenhouse gases as entirely feasible -- and not just at Millipore. "If anyone tells you it can't be done because they're growing their company, they're full of it."

About the Speaker(s): Martin D. Madaus joined Millipore Corporation in January 2005 as President and Chief Executive Officer and became Chairman of the Board in March 2005. Millipore Corporation, with revenues of approximately $1.5 billion, focuses on two business segments: biopharmaceutical manufacturing and life science research and analytical laboratories.

Madaus came to Millipore from Roche Diagnostics Corporation where, as President and Chief Executive Officer (2000"2004), he was responsible for the North American Operations. Prior to that (1999), he was Vice President of Business Development for Roche Molecular Diagnostics. Madaus joined Roche in 1998 when he was general manager of Boehringer Mannheim Canada in Montreal, Quebec.

Madaus is a director of Predictive Biosciences, the Massachusetts High Technology Council, the New England Healthcare Institute, the Massachusetts Workforce Development Investment Board, and the YMCA of Greater Boston.

Madaus is a native of Hamburg, Germany (naturalized American citizen), and holds a D.V.M. and Ph.D. in veterinary medicine.

Host(s): Sloan School of Management, MIT Sloan School of Management

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MIT World — special events and lectures

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