The merger of DuPont and Dow was never meant to create a megasized company, at least for the long term. The goal from the beginning was to divide it up into three separate firms. Each firm focused on different industries with unique strategies and talent needs. One firm (which would eventually retake the Dow name) would focus on materials science and three narrower and deeper, higher-growth areas: packaging, infrastructure, and consumer care. A second spinoff, called Corteva, would focus exclusively on the agriculture industry, with a robust pipeline across germplasm (seeds and other living genetic resources), traits, and crop protection.
The third spinoff, specialty products, would eventually retake the DuPont name and focus on customer-driven innovation. This organization would apply market knowledge, along with a deep expertise in science and application development, to solve customer needs. Based in Wilmington, Delaware, it would also be quite sizable, with forecast sales of around $21 billion, more than 200 manufacturing sites from Kentucky to Kazakhstan, and more than 30,000 employees.
The spinoff would work across major lines of business that targeted myriad industries, from firefighting to semiconductor manufacturing, with many major decisions being made outside of company headquarters. The market certainly had higher risks, but it also had the potential for much higher profit margins and growth. Being a specialty markets leader would involve finding, developing, and keeping the most innovative scientists (it has more than 4,500 scientists and engineers) combined with strategists who can identify potential acquisitions to complement the product portfolio.
“The new company needs to build a workforce in which everyone thinks and acts strategically and globally, develops themselves and others, and leads courageously,” says Patrick O’Meara, a senior client partner at Korn Ferry. “It’s a far different mindset than what Dow and DuPont had earlier.” Those employees would be most engaged in an environment that was collaborative, ambitious, inclusive, and flexible.