At age 57, Ellen Kullman is the 19th executive to lead DuPont in more than 208 years of company history. Kullman became CEO in January 2009 and chair of the board later that year. She has championed market-driven science to drive innovation across the company. Under her leadership, decision making has moved closer to customers around the world.
DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman is transforming a traditional chemicals company into an integrated, science-based business focused on agriculture and nutrition, advanced materials and bio-based industrials. It’s one reason Kullman loves to leave what she calls "the mother ship"—DuPont headquarters in Wilmington, Del.—and visit the company’s global Innovation Centers. "Even as a young marketer, I enjoyed seeing what other businesses and sciences were being developed within the company," Kullman noted at the opening of the newest Innovation Center in Johnston, Iowa. The center is designed to display collaboration among scientists, technology and products to solve global challenges. DuPont’s purchase of Pioneer Hi-Bred makes food and energy market demands a top priority for Kullman. The company’s ag sales rose 9% in the second quarter, while sales in performance chemicals fell 7%. An example of DuPont’s new focus is the construction of its $200 million commercial cellulosic ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa. While DuPont will continue to build on its strengths in chemistry, biology and material sciences, the company looks ahead to global market demands. "We have done science at DuPont for a very long time, more than 200 years," Kullman says. "Although the way we do things now is far from how E.I. du Pont started on the banks of the Brandywine River, we still focus science on local needs."