Mr. La Force serves as President and COO of NYSE-listed W. R. Grace & Co., a leading global supplier of specialty chemicals and materials. Grace has annual sales of $2 billion and operates in more than 40 countries. As COO, Mr. La Force is responsible for Grace’s Catalysts Technologies and Materials Technologies business segments and Grace’s global manufacturing and supply chain operations.
Mr. La Force joined Grace as CFO in 2008. In that role, he focused on improving the company’s profitability, cash flow and return on invested capital. During his tenure as CFO, gross margins increased eight percentage points, adjusted EBITDA margins increased 11 percentage points, free cash flow increased nearly three times and return on invested capital increased 11 percentage points. Mr. La Force was deeply involved in Grace’s internal transformation into a fully integrated global operating company and its external transformation into two industry-leading public companies in February 2016.
Prior to joining Grace, Mr. La Force served as COO and Senior Counselor to the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, where he led a transformation of the department’s management practices. He also served as a member of the President’s Management Council.
Before entering public service in 2005, Mr. La Force worked at Dell Inc., where he held general management and financial leadership positions at the company’s headquarters in Austin, Texas, and in China. From 2002 to 2005, he served as a general manager for Dell in China, leading a $500 million business unit through a period of double-digit sales growth, triple-digit earnings growth and significant operational change. Before joining Dell in 1997, he worked at AlliedSignal, Inc. (now Honeywell), Emerson Electric Co. and Arthur Andersen & Co.
Mr. La Force earned an MBA at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a Bachelor’s degree at Baylor University. He is also a board member of KIPP DC, a public charter school operator in Washington, D.C.