Harold Sorgenti begins the interview by discussing his family background and childhood. He was able to find a job after college at Battelle Memorial Institute and while working in research there, Sorgenti received his masters in chemical engineering from Ohio State University.
After four years at Battelle, Sorgenti left to work in research for Atlantic Richfield Oil Corporation (ARCO). Sorgenti had a highly productive research career and invented several production processes, such as making benzene from toluene by hydrodealkylation. Because of his exemplary managerial skills and ability to take risks, Sorgenti was promoted first to director of development and then to head to research and engineering at ARCO. Eventually, he became the president of ARCO Chemical, a subdivision of ARCO. Sorgenti urged the company's CEO, Robert Anderson, to buy control of Oxirane, which Sorgenti later built in to a highly successful company. From the beginning of his presidency in 1979, to his retirement in 1991, Sorgenti increased ARCO's net worth by two billion dollars.
Sorgenti has always believed that a manager's most important job was to provide safety for his employees. He felt that shareholders were preventing him from accomplishing that task at ARCO, so he resigned and then co-founded the Freedom Chemical Company. There, Sorgenti helped organize many transactions, including one with the Kalama Chemical Company. When Freedom's investment partner, JLL, decided to sell the company to B.F. Goodrich, Sorgenti founded a new company named, Sorgenti Investment Partners. Throughout his career, Sorgenti has joined many corporate boards, and worked hard to make the selection of new executives and board members an open process. Sorgenti ends the interview by reflecting on his philanthropic involvements and family life.
Arnold Thackray founded the Chemical Heritage Foundation and served the organization as president for 25 years. He is currently CHF’s chancellor. Thackray received MA and PhD degrees in history of science from Cambridge University. He has held appointments at Cambridge, Oxford University, and Harvard University, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 1983 Thackray received the Dexter Award from the American Chemical Society for outstanding contributions to the history of chemistry. He served for more than a quarter century on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was the founding chairman of the Department of History and Sociology of Science and is currently the Joseph Priestley Professor Emeritus.
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