DuPont Central R&D cuts: 'Surreal' (Updates)
"If you have a leaky roof, do you burn down the house?"
On Dec. 11,, DuPont Co. said it will cut 10% of its 54,000 workers before its merger with Dow Chemical.
On Dec. 29, CEO Edward Breen told DuPont's 6,100 Delaware staff that 1,700, or 28%, will lose jobs in Jan.
In the note excerpted below, a DuPont scientist -- who asked that his name not be used --says 80% of the company's 250 Central R&D scientists will have to find other work. The group had 400 as recently as 2013, before Industrial Bioscience research staff were reassigned to that business group and layoffs began depleting the group. (Of those newly separated from CR&D, some will lose their jobs; others may join DuPont's business units, which also have science staff.)
DuPont earned $3.5 billion in profits on $35 billion in sales last year, but the company has been pressed by investors, led by hedge fund manager Nelson Peltz, to cut overhead and boost productivity. From the note:
We will hear what happens to all of Central Research and Development [CR&D], on January 4th. Three options:
1. Laid off -- ~80% of CR&D will get this. Of the 250 principal investigators [PIs, with PhDs] plus associate investigators [AIs, with BSci, MSci degrees], about 17 PIs plus 34 AIs will be left.
(But of that 80%, some will stay with DuPont in other jobs, that's option 2:)
2. Pulled into a business... (But) the businesses are laying off staff.
(And then there's option 3, for the minority who keep their jobs in the renamed Central R&D unit):
3. Be part of "Science & Innovation," the new CR&D.
Five of the seven CR&D managers have been let go. 60% of the patent group in CR&D, IB and other businesses have been cut... 90% of Pioneer (crop seed R&D) was laid off, 200 people -- a week before Christmas -- what a great holiday present! The other 10% were told to move to Iowa or else they would not have jobs.
We have been told not to work in our labs. We have been told just to make certain all of our chemicals are labeled (for disposal).
And we have been told that we have a day to collect our personal belongings and get out [off site permanently by Jan 5th].
So I am here "working" most of this week -- removing my personnel effects... Jan 4th (I will) learn my fate... Looking at academic positions, consulting...
There will be a lot of good people looking for jobs.
My heart goes out to those folks that are at mid-career and do not have the "cushion" of retirement.
I found one AI almost crying in the hallway last week.
It will be terrible to be here on Jan 4th.
NO ONE would have predicted what is happening now at DuPont just a couple of months ago!
Ed Breen and Nelson Peltz can take credit for destroying one of the best industrial research organizations in the world.
I will agree that there were issues. But you fix things, not destroy them. That is what real leaders do.
DuPont does a terrible job marketing. It is the interface between marketing and technology development that had been broken. -- So you destroy the technology organization? Not!
If you have a leaky roof -- do you burn down the house?
It is just so surreal!!