Expert Q&A: Mehdi Miremadi on closure & post-closure
Mehdi Miremadi is a Senior Vice President and Chief Client Officer at Haley & Aldrich and works with our Market Segment Leaders to enhance client satisfaction. Here he discusses the methods used to achieve closure on tough projects like Superfund cleanups.
What’s the most essential ingredient for bringing a project to closure?
I would say it’s a commitment to understanding our client’s “end vision,” developing a sound and cost-effective technical approach and regulatory strategy, and then focusing every project activity to help them get there. This is easier said than done. On some projects it requires engaging very diverse stakeholders – from regulators to neighborhood groups – refining group goals, and balancing interests that may be completely at odds.
It sounds easier said than done. How do you even get started?
First, we listen to our clients. We ask questions about business goals, stakeholder concerns, liability management preferences, legal issues, even dynamics within the team. Once we understand the big-picture business context, we focus on the environmental challenge.
You’ve mentioned “focus” a couple of times. Is the work something like herding cats?
It can be, but the right communication makes a huge difference. For example, we’ve learned that depicting the closure strategy graphically, in a simple one-page dashboard, is a perfect way to keep the focus sharp. It’s incredibly effective at communicating project progress, achievements, and challenges to our clients and the regulators.
Our clients have told us that these two things – defining the end vision and conveying information crisply – are extremely important to them, often just as important as the actual remediation strategy we develop.
Advocating with regulatory agencies is a key part of your work. What’s that about?
Perhaps the most important key to helping clients achieve their end vision is gaining regulatory buy-in, what we consider a core expertise of Haley & Aldrich. We pride ourselves on knowing the territory: the federal, state, and local regulations and the nuances of how such laws, rules, and policies are applied by regulatory agencies and individual regulators. Our solid technical reputation and credibility with regulatory agency staff also gives our team an expedited way of obtaining agency approval.
We then weave the complex technical issues into an overall project framework and advocate our client’s position. That means communicating credible and defensible data evaluations to regulators.
Haley & Aldrich has worked on 75 CERCLA/Superfund cleanups. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
Establishing positive relationships with regulators lets a project progress in a timely and cost-effective manner. Overcoming the traditional adversarial relationship between owner and regulator is key to earning end vision acceptance, which turns into significant cost savings and schedule improvements for our clients. This strategy has been one of the cornerstones to our success.
For more information about Closure & Post-Closure, contact Mehdi Miremadi.