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Flying High At DuPont

Flying High At DuPontTufts graduate Ellen J. Kullman continues to rise through the ranks at DuPont, and she appears to be on a short list of executives being eyed as potential successors to the company’s current CEO.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [08.07.06] In what the Delaware News Journal described as “a top-level executive shuffle,” DuPont recently named three new executive vice presidents, including Tufts graduate Ellen J. Kullman, who has headed the company’s multi-billion dollar Safety & Protection group since 2002. In June, the 50-year-old was tapped to take over another of DuPont’s five major business units, a move that suggests she may be on track to become the company’s next CEO.

The shift brought the number of executive vice presidents at DuPont to four, with Kullman being the only female. It “widened the field of eventual replacements for [DuPont] Chairman and CEO Charles O. Holliday Jr., and created the possibility that, for the first time, a woman could head the chemical giant,” the News Journal reported.

Kullman, who made company history when she became DuPont’s first female executive, is considered to be a top contender for Holliday’s job, according to the newspaper. The “marketing whiz,” who earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Tufts in 1978, has steadily risen through the ranks since she joined the company in 1988, the News Journal reported.

In addition to heading DuPont’s Safety & Protection group, Kullman now oversees its Coatings & Color Technologies business. She is also responsible for the company’s marketing and sales, and safety and sustainability areas.

According to the News Journal, Kullman, who is a member of the board of directors of General Motors and serves on the Board of Overseers of Tufts’ School of Engineering, has recently received external recognition, as well.

Fortune magazine singled her out as one of the corporate world's rising stars,” the newspaper reported, “and the magazine also named her one of its 50 most powerful women in business.”

While it’s not likely that Kullman – or any other DuPont executive – will make the leap to CEO any time soon (Holliday still has seven years before he reaches mandatory retirement age), some analysts believe that the company’s recent upper-level reorganization has set the stage for a future transition.

"Overall, we believe that these moves illustrate the deep bench of talent at DuPont, and that perhaps a succession plan is underway," UBS analyst Jeffrey Cianci wrote in a note to clients, according to the News Journal.




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