September 24, 2008

DuPont Names New Chief Executive


DOVER, Del. - Having shifted under chief executive Charles Holliday Jr. from a traditional chemicals business to a science and biotechnology company, DuPont Co. will keep branching out under incoming CEO Ellen Kullman.

DuPont announced Tuesday that Holliday is stepping down after 10 years as CEO and will be replaced by Kullman, 52, the first female chief executive of a major U.S. chemical company.

Kullman, an executive vice president, has spent 20 years with the company and formerly led the unit that makes the material for body armor.

She will become president and director on Oct. 1 and chief executive on Jan. 1.

DuPont has a plant in Belle with more than 500 employees.

Kullman, who once described DuPont's focus on internal research as being too insular and arrogant, said she will work to make the company's commitment to science-based innovation pay off.

"Without the science, we won't have the differentiation in the marketplace ... It is what makes us who we are," she said Tuesday.

But that doesn't mean DuPont will turn inward and rely solely on its own research to propel itself forward. Earlier this year, Kullman said she expects DuPont's future growth will come as much from what is integrated from outside the company as is internally generated.

"I know that if I'm not looking outside for what's going on, my competitors are," she told an audience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Known among colleagues for her marketing prowess, Kullman was tapped earlier this year to lead planning for DuPont's growth in emerging markets.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate and State Treasurer Jack Markell, a former telecommunications executive who lived next door to Kullman for 10 years, said she excels in strategic analysis and implementation.

"She's incredibly smart, she's very focused ... She relates well to people, but behind that is somebody with steely determination and a very fertile mind," said Markell, who got a phone call on Monday from Kullman in advance of Tuesday's announcement.

Under Holliday, 60, DuPont has sought an edge over its competitors in the chemical industry by breaking from its past and embracing new technologies.

Originally published by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS.

(c) 2008 Charleston Daily Mail. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.