The corporate dustbowl

So why would I quit a job that paid well, offered good benefits, and leave behind family and friends to move across the country and return to school? And why would Dave support, even encourage these actions?

Simply, to escape the developing corporate dustbowl. I worked for DuPont, headquartered in Wilmington, DE for over 7 years. My time there was eye-opening and I got an eyeful of corporate culture. (One of the funniest moments – HR telling me to give them the exact date my maternity leave would start. Sure. Easy.) My frustrations grew, but when the opportunity to enroll in the UC Davis Master Brewers Program arrived a year early, I hemmed and hawed over accepting.

Dave asked a poignant question: ‘You are miserable there. How are you going to feel spending the next year working there, knowing you passed on a chance to leave?’ So I accepted and we started to make preparations to leave. Right after we went to Firefly and took 3 weeks to travel the country in 2015.

So, where is the corporate dustbowl? Beginning slowly with sizeable layoffs in 2008 (contractors, support staff), 2010 (exempt employees), the dustbowl hit hard in 2015. Ellen Kullman (DuPont CEO) won a proxy batte against activist investor, Nelson Peltz, but layoff rumors were rampant after the win. Dismal 2Q and 3Q numbers all but guarentee layoffs. Ellen’s unexpected ‘retirement’ and appointment of Ed Breen, fat cutter extrodinare, had the rumor mill estimating 25% of departments would be let go.

And then in early December, the Dow-DuPont merger was announced. In early December the layoffs began. 50% of one department, 90% of another, an entire department shut down. The company is dying. To make matters worse, despite company claims of environmental stewardship and highest ethical behavior as core values, investigative articles report about the willful illegal disposal of toxic chemicals.

Finally, Central Research and Development (CR&D) is gutted. 60 to 70% of groups are gone. All to save $2 billion to distribute to the shareholders. From a group that returns $9 billion in revenue. This is the new quarterly capitialism, squeezing every penny of short term value out of company regardless of the long-term effects, which are outlined in this article. In short, the company’s future is being destroyed (no CR&D, no new products) to provide investors short-term returns.

Now, this is not a claim that there wasn’t waste; waste was rampant. However, gutting the scientists and support staff while leaving in place the business personnel making the poor choices of products to pursue will not decrease waste.

And so the corporate dustbowl has begun and is not limited to DuPont. The question is, how long before the effects are felt and can we ever recover from it?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: