DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman outlines leading in a dynamic and unpredictable world at Wharton Leadership Conference.
Philadelphia, PA (Vocus) June 16, 2009 -- As the global recession has changed the landscape of many markets DuPont serves, the company is well-positioned to deliver dynamic innovations to meet the evolving markets demand because “change is in our DNA,” said DuPont CEO Ellen J. Kullman at the 13th Annual Wharton Leadership Conference here today.
“There is no playbook for what the world is experiencing right now, but several leadership principles have surfaced in our experience at DuPont and seem particularly appropriate to the dynamic and uncertain conditions we currently face today,” Kullman said. “At DuPont, change is in our DNA. The four leadership principles that have emerged are: focus on what you can control, adopt a new trajectory, communicate and maintain pride around your mission.”
During its 207 years, DuPont has evolved through three transformations, emerging stronger each time as the company continues to innovate through economic downturns, Kullman said. She noted that nylon was discovered during the Great Depression. “None of that happened by accident. It took leaders who had a vision and were absolutely determined to not waste a good crisis,” Kullman said.
Today, as a market-driven science company, DuPont continues its legacy of delivering innovation during challenging times. Kullman said the company’s research and development efforts – including more than three-quarters of its R&D budget -- are focused on three major global “megatrends:” the need for increasing food productivity, decreasing dependence on fossil fuels and protecting lives. DuPont delivered more than $10 billion in sales from new products that are less than five years old in 2008. In the first quarter of 2009, the company commercialized more than 500 new products – nearly double compared to the first quarter of 2008.
“At DuPont, we have often been successful by stepping out of our comfort zone and adopting a new trajectory,” Kullman said. “We are not afraid to aggressively pursue fundamental change, whether it is new business models, new scientific or technological platforms or other basic change.”
Several specific examples highlighted by Kullman included innovative business models successfully executed in the company’s Safety Resources and Applied BioSciences businesses; new market-driven technologies for Kevlar® and Nomex® high performance materials; and a strong focus on tailoring innovations to meet specific needs in emerging economies, like China and India.
“In the new economic reality, DuPont continues to deliver market-back science to make the world a better and safer place,” Kullman said. “We must be prepared not for the world the way it was before the recession, but prepare to succeed in the very different world that we’ll encounter when the recovery eventually comes.”
DuPont is a science-based products and services company. Founded in 1802, DuPont puts science to work by creating sustainable solutions essential to a better, safer, healthier life for people everywhere. Operating in more than 70 countries and regions, DuPont offers a wide range of innovative products and services for markets including agriculture and food; building and construction; communications; and transportation.
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