HOUSTON: After a search that lasted nine months, the US' largest disposer and hauler of refuse, Waste Management, has named Barry Caldwell its new SVP of government affairs and corporate communications. He joins the company from Cigna, where he headed the lobbying effort at the insurance and employee-benefits concern.
Caldwell says his first task will be integrating the disparate communications functions at the Houston-based company into one consistent voice.
"What I'm trying to do is integrate our federal affairs, governments affairs, community affairs, and corporate communications in a way that will drive value for the company," said Caldwell. "These all touch different publics - just as trash touches different publics - so full communications integration is very important to driving shareholder value."
The search targeted professionals with both a communications and government affairs background. Caldwell's previous job experience includes a stint as chief of staff for Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) and head of federal affairs for the major American pharmaceutical lobbying organization. He also spent time practicing law at two Washington, DC firms.
Waste Management has emerged from some tough times in recent years. The trash hauler was the subject of the one of the largest accounting scandals of the 1990s. The incident forced the company to make earnings restatements that left it profitless from 1997 to 1999. The company's top executives were dismissed, while its auditor, Arthur Andersen, agreed to pay $229 million to settle a shareholder lawsuit.
Nevertheless, issues of government relations are still a paramount concern.
Caldwell said his experience in DC has prepared him, explaining, "Each step along the way in my career in Washington, I have had to deal with external audiences. And that meant having to develop appropriate messages that would get people to do and see things the way we'd like them to."