Business Management

DuPont CEO Kullman Visits Campus

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March 07, 2013
Ellen Kullman, the first woman to lead one of America’s oldest firms, spoke at Washington College to a packed house of students, faculty, staff, and visitors on Wednesday, Feb. 27, about the challenges and opportunities of leading DuPont in its third century of existence, and about the firm’s ongoing transformation.

Moving beyond the day’s headlines, Kullman argued that students should pay special attention to “companies that stand the test of time” as the true examples of corporate leadership, innovation, and citizenship. She spoke about challenging times in DuPont’s history, from its founding in 1802 to a critical “pivot point” a century later, at the begnning of the 20th century, when the company was almost sold to a rival chemical firm. Instead, DuPont maintained its independence under the control of the DuPont family and it launched a massive expansion into new fields of research and application involving chemicals in agriculture, industry, and more.

Today, Kullman said, she is positioning the firm around the concept of the “global collaboratory,” with a new model of extensive partnership with clients and customers.

Above all, Kullman said, even great old companies like DuPont and their hard-charging leaders can’t get too full of themselves: “There’s a huge amount of humility that needs to be in any large organization.”

Last modified on Aug. 31st, 2013 at 12:35pm by Michael Harvey.