Group vice president of DuPont Safety & Protection, Ellen J. Kullman leads a $4.0 B business enterprise that is one of the five growth platforms of the DuPont Company: DuPont Advanced Fiber Systems, DuPont Chemical Solutions Enterprise, DuPont Nonwovens, DuPont Safety Resources and DuPont Surfaces. Under her direction, DuPont Safety & Protection is focused on becoming the global market leader in providing solutions for people, property and operations in the area of safety, security and protection.
Kullman began her career at DuPont in 1988 as marketing manager in the medical imaging business. Following two years as business director for the x-ray film business, she moved to Printing & Publishing as global business director, electronic imaging. In 1994, she joinedWhite Pigment & Mineral Products as global business director and was named vice president and general manager in 1995. She assumed leadership of two high growth businesses, DuPont Safety Resources (1998) and Bio-Based Materials (1999). Ellen was named group vice president and general manager in 2000 with the addition of Corporate New Business Development and Intellectual Assets Licensing. She later assumed responsibility for DuPont Flooring Systems and DuPont Surfaces in 2001. She was named to her current position in February 2002.
Before joining DuPont, Ellen worked for General Electric in various business development and marketing positions.
“While at GE I worked on the Vice Chairman’s staff,” says Kullman. “There were only three of us, so I was deeply involved in how the company worked and made decisions. I had a wonderful mentor in the staff Vice President who really challenged me to think more broadly on business opportunity. I grew tremendously during this job—it established many of my beliefs and principles on Business development and resource allocation.
“Often I see women who are not happy in their role yet wait for someone/something else to change it.We are responsible for our own development and our satisfaction with our careers,” says Kullman. “The roles I have excelled in are the ones that I have loved. And to find that ‘match’ is key.
“Both Diane and I are believers that we need to do everything we can to help women succeed in the company,” she says. “I mentor several individuals, and when I travel to DuPont offices—especially those outside the U.S., where the networks are not as well developed as ours—I often get the women together to discuss what is going on and to exchange ideas.”
Kullman received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Tufts University and MBA from Northwestern University. She serves on the Boards of the Delaware Symphony, the Board of Overseers for Tufts University School of Engineering and as a trustee of Christiana Care Corporation. She and her husband, Michael, live in Greenville, DE, with their daughter and twin sons.
“I really don’t believe there is such a thing as balance with these jobs,” says Kullman. “I say ‘jobs’ because my position at DuPont is a 24/7 job and my family is a 24/7 job. Somewhere in there I figure out how to get the important stuff done. There are school functions/sporting events during the day and travel meetings at night or on weekends. I love what I do and I love my family. And if you really love it then it will work out!”