Waste Management’s Larry O’Donnell, III to share his insights and experiences as an “Undercover Boss”

Posted on February 12, 2010


As you know, I have had the opportunity to interview many amazing people on the PI Window on Business. In fact, we actually shared excerpts from some of the more memorable moments on the recently aired 100th Episode Special.

Of the diverse, interesting and yes even thought-provoking topics we have covered leadership, and in particular 21st century leadership, is an area upon which we have focused a great deal of our time and energy.

From the 2-Part segment “21st Century Leadership: An Evolutionary Profile” which featured a guest panel comprised of international experts and authors that included Dr. Gaby Cora, Bill McAneny, Merydith Willoughby and Forrest Breyfogle III, to multiple interviews with Dr. John Ullmen starting with “The Presidential Dilemma: Leadership With A Price,” we have attempted to understand the dynamics of corporate leadership in a dramatically changing global marketplace.

So when I first saw the commercial for Undercover Boss, I can say without any hesitation that I was hooked before the 30 second spot was over. For me it was the realization of an evolutionary leadership cycle which began with the unapproachable reverence surrounding the Henry Ford’s and the E.I. du Pont’s to the modern day celebrity accessibility of a Lee Iacocca and a Donald Trump to the now real-world vulnerability of . . . an Undercover Boss.

Vulnerability, humility and even a healthy dose of courage were words that came to mind along with a feeling that I could only equate with standing over a precipice of the unfamiliar and unknown. In short, it is one thing to walk the talk – it is an entirely different scenario to live the talk, especially on the front lines of a multi-billion dollar corporation.

But live it Lawrence O’Donnell, III President and Chief Operating Officer of Waste Management did . . . in front of close to 39 million viewers following this past Sunday’s Super Bowl.

In a recent interview Mr. O’Donnell, although I would imagine that he would not be offended if I referred to him by the now familiar Larry, used terms such as “not in my wildest imagination,” I am definitely not a reality-type person” and “when Lynn Brown brought this to me I told her she was crazy,” to describe his first reaction to the suggestion that he become an Undercover Boss.

Despite the obvious reservations, Larry O’Donnell did however become the first Undercover Boss on CBS’ smash hit.

I am also pleased to say that Larry O’Donnell will be my guest on the PI Window on Business Show this upcoming Thursday, February 18th at a special time of 2:00 PM EST.

Be sure to join us for what will undoubtedly be a memorable interview that will definitely make it into our 250th Show Special.

Larry O’Donnell, III
President and Chief Operating Officer
Waste Management, Inc.

Larry O’Donnell, III became President and Chief Operating Officer of Waste Management on March 6, 2004. Waste Management, Inc., based in Houston, Texas, is a FORTUNE 200 company with revenues of approximately $13 billion and nearly 50,000 employees.

Before being named to his current position, Larry was Executive Vice President, Operations Support and Chief Administrative Officer, from 2003 to 2004, with responsibility for HR, information technology, engineering, environmental compliance, safety, fleet, maintenance, procurement, legal, real estate, corporate security and P&L responsibility for recycling operations.

From 2001 to 2003, Larry was Executive Vice President – Western Group, overseeing operations in the states from New Mexico to Alaska, plus Hawaii.

Larry joined Waste Management, Inc. in February 2000 as Sr. Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary and was appointed Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary in March 2001 where he managed all legal matters relating to the company and its operating subsidiaries.

Prior to joining Waste Management, Inc., Larry was with Baker Hughes Incorporated, an oil and gas services company from 1991 to 2000, and served as Vice President and General Counsel.

Larry received his BS degree in engineering in 1980 from the University of Texas at Austin, and his J.D., cum laude, in 1983 from the University of Houston School of Law. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and in 2004 was appointed by Texas Governor Rick Perry to the Texas Energy Planning Council.