DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman talks business at UNI

KullmanBy reinforcing and strengthening its research and development, DuPont is poised to emerge from the recession stronger than it went in, according to Chair of the Board and CEO Ellen Kullman. Her comments came during a speech at UNI's Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center Thursday, March 4, 2010.

Kullman discussed how science plays a large role in today's business  environment and shared four key leadership behaviors at the University of Northern Iowa as the inaugural speaker in a new distinguished guest lecture series featuring top corporate leaders.

As DuPont looks to the future, it sees population growth as an issue and an opportunity. The opportunities lie in increasing the food supply through increased crop yields and improved drought, pest and disease resistance; decreased dependence on foreign oil with technologies and products that enhance alternative energy sources and energy efficiency; and increased need for protection and safety.

"There is a direct connection between science and the ability to meet those needs and grow our company," Kullman said.

But, she added, it takes people, and for DuPont it takes 60,000 employees around the world who all understand their role in helping the company succeed.

As the 19th leader of the 208-year-old company, Kullman follows by four behavioral principles:

  • Engagement. Employees must understand what's important, have support and be aligned around a common goal.
  • Setting the right tone. The leader must set the tone, keeping in mind the company's core values, especially in hard times, because when people are scared, people will follow.
  • Being an enabler. Energize and work with people and figure out how to get things done.
  • Accountability. Be accountable for and committed to getting things done.

UNI student Tyler Koenig expressed respect for Kullman's business-management and leadership styles.

"She brought up a lot of points we discuss in my organizational management class," said the junior marketing: advertising major. "It's nice to hear first-hand how it's important in the business world."

Kullman with President Ben Allen Kullman
Kullman speaking with students

Top right: Dupont CEO Ellen Kullman addresses the audience at her speech in UNI's Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center Great Hall.

Top left: Kullman attends a luncheon at UNI President Ben Allen's home on campus.

Left: Kullman talks with UNI students after her speech.

Upper Right: A group of UNI College of Business Administration students talks with Kullman later in the afternoon.