No stranger to the art and science of running large corporations, Ellen Kullman doesn’t shy away from leading through uncertainty.
The Delaware native became CEO of chemical giant DuPont at the end of the 2008 financial downturn, then took the reins as CEO of Carbon, a 3D printing tech venture, in November 2019 just as the pandemic unfolded.
Both are dream jobs by any standard. And both presented challenges right out of the gate.
Whether managing 400 people or 40,000, “the basics are the same,” said Kullman. “The first thing any leader has to do is to make sure that they have a team that is not only capable, but excited and energized about doing the work that’s ahead.”
In this video podcast with Machine Design Senior Editor Rehana Begg, Kullman provides insights into Carbon’s response to the pandemic by using Carbon’s Design Engine technology to figure out ways to tackle some of the bigger issues of medical supply shortages, including a novel design for a Resolution Medical Swab.
Kullman, who considers herself a “manufacturing person,” further discusses how she harnessed her technical skills (she holds a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering) and business skills to rise through the ranks.
When it comes to fostering more opportunities for women in manufacturing, Kullman suggests organizations use data to analyze discrepancies in human resources policies and their history on promotions.
She offers a word of caution against behaviors that deepen the gender divide: “Instead of creating a blame atmosphere, you’ve got to make [men] part of the solution by engaging them and saying, ‘how do we make this better?’”