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DuPont CEO Ed Breen Visits Howard University School of Business for Executive Lecture Series 

Dupont CEO Ed Breen poses with Howard University School of Business administrators

WASHINGTON - On Thursday, February 22, Ed Breen, executive chairman and CEO of DuPont, was the featured speaker for the Howard University School of Business’   Executive Lecture Series, a longstanding program designed to expose business students to some of the world’s most accomplished business professionals. 

Breen spoke to approximately 200 honors students as he shared insights around his 26-year journey as a CEO and the lessons he learned along the way. Following the lecture, he sat down for lunch with supply chain majors who had the opportunity to ask more questions. 

Headquartered in Wilmington, Del., DuPont is a global innovation company, delivering leading-edge material solutions in the areas of electronics, clean water, personal protection, construction, electric vehicles, healthcare, aerospace, and other industries.   

Since 2015, Breen has steered the iconic American company through a far reaching and multifaceted transformation from a chemical and agriculture giant to a premier multi-industrial company. He oversees the strategic direction of DuPont in creating value by unlocking the full potential of its distinctive capabilities, innovative portfolio, application expertise, and deep customer relationships.   

Under his leadership, Breen has driven significant performance improvements across DuPont’s businesses, negotiated one of the largest, most transformative mergers in the industry to create DowDuPont, and subsequently launched three industry-leading independent companies.   

“The executive lecture series is extremely important because it is an avenue for students to have direct access to CEOs and leadership in major companies. It is an opportunity for them not just to listen to a lecture, but to have a conversation,” said Sharon Strange-Lewis, assistant dean of impact and engagement. “This series gives our students an opportunity to see what's going to happen beyond the Mecca and learn about the courses other CEOs have charted to get to that C-Suite. They get to make contacts and connections that they wouldn’t necessarily get elsewhere. It really changes the trajectory a lot of students’ career path.” 

Lily Hardman, a freshman finance major from Stamford, Conn., said she appreciated Breen’s willingness to share stories about his personal life and how that’s impacted his professional success. 

“Other CEO's who have visited geared their lecture toward what's going on in the company today and less of what propelled them to the position they’re in now, so I think that the personal stories that Mr. Breen shared with us today were really important for me,” Hardman said. “He focused on how the decisions he made led him to this position and offered lot of advice for advancing a career in business like making sure you’re doing something you're passionate about and maintaining your integrity.”  

Prior to Breen’s lecture, he shared more about how he’s navigated the road to personal and professional success.   

What is the number one piece of advice you would give to a Howard University student who wants to be successful in the business world?   

ED BREEN: Be curious. Even after all my years in business, I am still learning. Seek input from a diverse group, the more perspectives you have, the better decisions you’ll make. Also, do something you are passionate about. If you are passionate, money and success will follow. 

What ignited your interest/passion for business?   

My father was a big influence on me and set an example of success as a businessman and entrepreneur. He inspired me to pursue a business degree in college and after that, I took my first job at General Instruments.  Since then, I’ve always found work to be a lot of fun.     

What has been the biggest lesson you learned since becoming an executive?   

Through the years, I’ve come to realize that risk is not just something to be managed, it’s as important as opportunity in defining business strategy. When you get into a position where you’re managing people, there’s something coming up your back all the time. I’ve gone into two company cultures that could not make decisions. You’re never going to have 100% of the information, but you may have 80%; that’s good enough. You just have to assess the situation and make a decision. 

How do you maintain balance in your life while holding such a prominent position in your company?   

By being present. I don’t think people are wired to multi-task. It’s not easy, but balance is achieved by being in the moment. So, when I’m working, I stay focused on work. When I’m with family, I give them my undivided attention.  




About the School of Business Executive Lecture Series: 

Established in 2003, the School of Business’ Executive Lecture Series has annually brought business leaders to engage in exclusive conversations with students, providing them with opportunities to hear real-world insights from C-suite executives of Fortune 500 companies. Past lecturers have included Sheryl Sandberg, former COO of Meta, Inc., Richard Parsons, former chairman and CEO of Time Warner and Howard University trustee emeritus, and Robert Manfred, commissioner of Major League Baseball. 

About Howard University 

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university comprising 14 schools and colleges. Students pursue more than 140 programs of study leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced three Schwarzman Scholars, four Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu