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Ellen Kullman
Ellen Kullman
Title: CEO and president
Company: DuPont
Company rank: 75
Age: 53
Compensation: $4.4 million

Ellen Kullman has long been heir apparent at DuPont, but that didn't make her Jan. 1, 2009, ascension to become the first female CEO in the company's more than 200-year history any less momentous. Kullman, who was already running four of DuPont's five main businesses, is more than prepared to meet the industry's challenges.

With automakers and homebuilders experiencing steep declines, demand is down for DuPont's paint and construction products, leading to a 17% drop in fourth-quarter sales. Now Kullman is looking to cut costs by $1.7 billion through 2010, including plans to eliminate 6,500 jobs.

But she's optimistic about DuPont's agribusiness prospects, and the recent purchase of a workplace training publisher signals a renewed focus on DuPont Safety Resources -- the corporate consulting arm that Kullman herself started a decade ago.

NEXT: Mary Sammons
Last updated April 21 2009: 3:48 PM ET
Compensation figures include salary, bonus, stock awards, option awards, non-equity incentive plan compensation, change in pension value and non-qualified deferred compensation earnings and all other compensation as reported in the company proxy statement. Figures are for 2008 unless otherwise noted.
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