ABOUT THIS COMPANY:
The birth of the consulting industry
In 1886, an MIT chemist named Arthur Dehon Little, along with his co-worker Roger Griffin, formed the very first consulting firm devoted to improving processes and products. (As the inventor of acetate, Mr. Little knew a lot about such things.) By 1909, the two men had incorporated their firm, Arthur D. Little (ADL), in the U.S. in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The firm's early work focused on industrial technology and R&D, but by the 1950s, assignments with Johnson & Johnson and General Electric prompted an expansion into management consulting.
ADL was also one of the first consulting firms to build a presence in Asia, opening a Tokyo-based subsidiary in 1978 that focused on the Japanese electronics and automotive industries. A Singapore subsidiary followed in 1984, with Hong Kong in 1986, Kuala Lumpur in 1990 and Seoul in 1994. More recently, in 2004, ADL opened offices in Beijing and Shanghai. From these seven offices, the firm provides services to countries throughout the Asia Pacific region.
The pioneering spirit of the founder who lent the firm its name is the stuff of legend, as is the firm's continued survival, despite a serious restructuring that led to its being acquired by France's Altran Technologies in 2002. Altran picked up the Arthur D. Little name and the firm's core management consulting businesses in Europe and Asia; the firm's global headquarters was moved to Paris, and German-born Michael Träm was named CEO. Continuing under the Altran umbrella today, ADL employs roughly 1,000 associates in 30 offices around the world.
Singapore serves as ADL's regional headquarters for Asia. In addition to serving domestic clients in the city-state, consultants in the Singapore office serve clients across South and Southeast Asia, including in India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and the Indochina region. ADL's efforts in Southeast Asia have included the integration of railway system tests in Korea and Singapore, and the strategic transformation of a leading Malaysian port operator. The Southeast Asian practice has also performed an operations valuation of one of the world's largest oleochemicals manufacturers.
In China, ADL provides services to help Chinese enterprises improve management competency, with a strong focus on strategy, innovation and technology—a focus that would no doubt please the firm's founder. Other services include organization, operational management, corporate finance, information management, and environmental and risk management. Chinese clients have included multinational companies and government agencies, as well as larger domestic firms.
Additionally, ADL assists foreign companies by offering support and strategy advice for entering the Chinese market. The firm also provides these same services to Chinese companies attempting to expand their overseas presence. For example, ADL has helped develop R&D centers in China, and has organized forums devoted to innovation and internalization that were attended by senior Chinese executives. More than 50 percent of the firm's engagements in the country include implementation support, such as helping automotive companies set up derivative businesses in finance or in the used car business.
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