Ellen Kullman - DuPont
Chair of the Board & Chief Executive Officer
Ellen Kullman, 56, is the 19th executive to lead the company in 210 years of DuPont history.
She is a member of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, where she co-authored the Council’s recommendations on education and workforce skills. She is co-chair of the National Academy of Engineering Committee on Changing the Conversation: From Research to Action. She is on the board of trustees of Tufts University and the board of overseers at Tufts University School of Engineering.
Why do you believe STEM Education and Workforce are important to our nation?
The backbone of America's economy is innovation and the heart of innovation is science. Engineers are problem solvers that make good ideas into realities. And technology helps us drive innovations with speed and adaptability. From astronauts to social media, from Kevlar® to the NFL – STEM careers are everywhere. At DuPont, we are working to address three big challenges facing society today: 1. How to fulfill the nutritional needs of a growing population, 2. How to increase the availability of alternative energy and 3. How to protect people and the environment. We will do this with STEM know-how. It is how America will remain competitive and how DuPont will continue to deliver solutions.
What traits do senior leaders need to effectively support and advance STEM today?
Many leaders have STEM backgrounders so it’s easy to start with what we know – how we use STEM in our lives. But we also need to help students see how versatile STEM is. We need to get involved and be collaborative and work with parents, teachers, schools and government to help address this important challenge for America. We also need to be creative in our efforts. Today’s students have different ways of communicating and different priorities. We need to listen to them and learn how we can best reach them. Because at the end of the day, we need them to believe and care that STEM education is important to our future workforce and national competitiveness. The path to STEM education starts early, before kindergarten, and we need to engage throughout the education process, not just at the college level.
What about STEM gives you passion?
It’s an area where I know I can make a difference. I have three children and I’ve seen them follow their interests. There is nothing more fun than helping them work toward their dreams. Helping students to see the excitement of science and engineering and pursue it is equally rewarding. I have the great honor of leading one of the oldest science-based manufacturing companies in the world. Our future depends on a workforce with a strong STEM background. So it is personal and professional pleasure for me to work on STEM. And it is fun when you see that light bulb go off and you know you’ve helped someone see STEM in a different way.
Of what one initiative you are most proud?
I can’t pick a favorite. I am personally proud of the work we did for President Obama’s Jobs Council to help crystalize how a child’s strong educational background can connect them to the jobs of today and tomorrow, and to put forward recommendations for the public and private sectors to improve the STEM pipeline in America. At DuPont, we have been a supportive of education and the evolution of education as new methods and content are developed since our founding in 1802. Today I’m proud of what we do for students and how we help teachers teach through inquiry based curriculum, seminars and learning experiences.