Ellen J. Kullman is the President and CEO of Carbon. Prior to this Ellen was the Chairman and CEO of DuPont. She was the nineteenth executive and the first woman to lead DuPont in its 212-year history. During her seven years as CEO, Kullman led the company’s focus on growth in emerging international markets and championed the power of DuPont science and global market knowledge to transform industries. She executed a strong plan and decisively positioned the company for its next generation of growth.
Ellen is co-chair of the Paradigm for Parity coalition and a board director of United Technologies, Dell Technologies, Amgen, and Goldman Sachs. She is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and past president of the U.S. China Business Council. She serves on the board of trustees of Northwestern University. Ellen has been named one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” by Fortune and one of the “World’s Most Powerful Women” by Forbes.
What advice would you share with someone looking into a career in additive manufacturing in 2020?
It’s truly an interesting time to be in this industry. We’re starting to realize the potential for digital and additive manufacturing technologies to reimagine how products are designed and made. The COVID-19 crisis in 2020 has only underscored this. Additive companies have stepped up to meet challenges to help address supply shortages caused by regional shutdowns and disruptions. The pace of product innovation has also been remarkable. For example, to address the shortage of swabs needed to increase testing capacity for COVID-19, Carbon production partner Resolution Medical launched a new Lattice Swab, Crafted with Carbon™ Technology that’s been assessed by Stanford and others to be a safe and effective solution. The process from design to production took only 20 days, and clinical assessment with 400 patients happened in 50 days. This type of accelerated product innovation—and accelerated product introduction—can’t happen with traditional manufacturing methods. It’s inspiring to see how far our industry has come. Additive manufacturing can provide ways to circumvent problems disrupted global supply chains are having and get needed products to market faster; I think this has big implications for a digital future for manufacturing. You can reimagine how supply chains work with digital additive technologies. This is a big reason why I’ve always been so inspired by what we are doing at Carbon—redefining how products are made and brought to market. My advice would be to zero in on what’s going on in this industry right now and how companies are meeting urgent product needs. And see how you can apply your talents in this growing industry.
When hiring, what are you looking for in a candidate?
I always look for people who are passionate about what they do and who are open to a lot of new ideas and approaches. Our work is challenging and the problems are solvable, but they are hard. We need people who believe in what we’re doing, and who are motivated by hard problems and committed to solving them.
What is the best advice you were given in your career?
My dad started and ran a landscaping business, and he always told me, “If you don’t water it, it’s going to die.” It wasn’t until I was older that I realized this life lesson translated to the business world, and I’d remind myself to continue investing in me. Just like plants need continuous watering, I needed to continue to invest in my own learning and development. We must never stop learning.
In order for us to grow, we have to invest in ourselves, believe in ourselves, and have the confidence to keep moving forward. So, I’d say, find the time to invest in yourself and also—don’t lose your sense of humor, even when things are challenging.
In your experience, what are some actionable ways we can promote gender equality?
We need to get more women on senior leadership teams and on boards. We must close the gender gap. One thing we can all do to make this happen faster is starting to advocate for women—we must advocate for ourselves and for others.
Companies also need to have a plan for achieving gender parity. I co-chair Paradigm for Parity, an organization dedicated to closing the leadership gender gap in corporate America. We now include over 100 companies who have committed to achieving gender parity in leadership by 2030, and we’re helping them do that. Companies have to be self-reflective first and foremost. And then focus on the actions that will improve diversity at every level to make sure women are truly represented and have equal opportunities to grow professionally.
How can a company like Carbon be a leader in gender equality in our industry?
I’m proud to be among the first female CEOs in the industry, and we are leading by example. Our leadership team at the company is nearly 40% women. We take pride in that and also acknowledge room for improvement in many areas. It’s critical for companies to be honest in assessing where gender and other disparities exist in their companies, both within leadership and throughout their organizations. Companies lose in the long run if they don’t pay attention to that. Carbon has always had a very strong commitment to gender equality, and we’re focusing on continuing to build and improve on this.
Diversity of talents, backgrounds, and identities of all our employees strengthens our ability to innovate and better serve our customers and partners.
As a leader, people are looking up to you. I’d like to know who inspires you:
There are many female CEOs and icons I admire, but one that stands out is Ginni Rometty. As the first female Chair, President & CEO of IBM, she took on a major challenge, positioning an iconic technology company for the future. She focused IBM on analytics, cloud computing, and cognitive computing systems. She’s so candid about her own journey and challenges, and I love how she empowers other women in business and leadership.