|Jocelyn Scott of DuPont Engineering: “Drop anything and everything and pick up and go and do.”
‘One place I put my real energies is working with people on career development,” says Jocelyn Scott of DuPont (Wilmington, DE). “A lot of times mentoring is just listening as people talk through things for themselves.”
Since early this year Scott has been director of engineering technology for DuPont Engineering, a corporate organization. She manages a group that provides engineering, maintenance and consulting services in a variety of specialties. She also assesses whether certain new technology projects are feasible. It’s a busy role, and one that’s central to the company’s future technical direction. It keeps her in close contact with all of the company’s business units.
“Of course I rely heavily on the specialists. But the accountability is mine,” she says.
Scott has spent her entire working life at DuPont. Her last post was two years as executive assistant to CEO Charles O. Holliday Jr. She provided support for any and all of his internal and external activities, including doing preparation work and handling special projects. “It was a fascinating and busy role,” Scott recalls. It’s a position that prepared her well for her current corporate responsibilities.
One of the most interesting duties was support to Holliday in his role as a past president and member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a coalition of DuPont and 164 other international companies. The council offers business leadership toward sustainable development, promoting eco-efficiency, innovation and corporate responsibility. Scott even got to attend the United Nations summit for sustainable development last August.
“It was an exciting year for us. As a corporation we made a lot of major decisions. Watching the process that led up to them was great,” she says.
The appeal of engineering
Scott grew up in Chicago. All the kids in the family loved science. Her older brother and sister are both MEs now, and Scott got her BSChE from Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA) in 1981. She went on to a 1983 MS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA), with an extra year of intensive graduate study in ChE.
Then she joined the DuPont field engineering program, which gave her the chance to rotate through several different types of jobs. She worked in various tech and ops assignments in the company’s imaging, automotive products and advanced fiber systems businesses.
The program, she says, is designed to be flexible and individual. “It let me develop my skills and do technical work on my own.” She also discovered that she enjoyed managing people.
The big step
Her first major job in management was at the automotive products business (Mt Clemens, MI) where, from 1991 to 1993, she was an operations supervisor for the QC lab. She also oversaw the product technical support group of engineers.
“That was about ninety people reporting to me, so it was a very big step,” Scott says. She was the first woman in that supervisory role.
She went on to R&D; supervisor in the automotive group, then moved to Wilmington, DE as a planning manager in 1995. Two years later she became manager of the DuPont Field Engineering program in Wilmington, where her flair for mentoring got full play. “I feel honored that people want me to mentor them,” she says.
In 1999 she became business engineering manager for DuPont Teijin Films. She worked in Hopewell, VA. “It was one of those roles that consumes a lot of your time,” she remembers fondly. “You have to be able to drop anything and everything and pick up and go and do.”
One of the things she did was work with the Richmond Area Program for Minorities in Engineering in Richmond, VA, a summer program sponsored by DuPont and other technical companies. It was geared to seventh graders through high school. She served on the board of directors and solicited support from other technically minded companies.
And then she went to work for CEO Holliday, an intensive learning experience to say the least. “I learned how to go from a supervisor to a manager, leading increasingly larger organizations,” she reflects.
How has she functioned in her succession of highly visible roles? “Early on, you get used to being possibly the only woman, and probably the only black woman, at a meeting or session,” she says. “You learn to keep your focus on what you need to do and move on. Or, if it comes to that point, you learn which battles to fight and which not.”
The isolation that goes with being black and a woman “is always there,” she says. “You learn to be immune to it. But I’m not saying it hasn’t made a difference in my career.”
Kate Colborn & Heidi Russell Rafferty