Edgar S. Woolard, Jr.
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Edgar Woolard begins the interview with a description of his family and childhood years in Washington, North Carolina. Woolard's parents encouraged him to excel in both academic and social environments. As a high-school student, Woolard held an interest in mathematics. After graduation, Woolard enrolled in North Carolina State University as a nuclear engineering major. Woolard enjoyed college life and was involved in several extra-curricular activities, including serving as house manager for his fraternity. In his junior year, he switched his major to industrial engineering and received his BS in this field in 1956. Shortly after graduating from NC State, Woolard married his junior-high-school sweetheart and accepted a position at Alcoa in Maryville, Tennessee. Woolard left Alcoa after one year to serve a six-month term in the US Army. Upon his return, he was offered a job at DuPont in industrial engineering. After two years, he was promoted into management as a supervisor, a position that Woolard relished. He quickly rose through the ranks at DuPont, gaining valuable learning experiences from each promotion. Woolard entered DuPont's Planning Division in 1976, where he oversaw many breakthroughs in DuPont polymers, especially Dacron production. Throughout his career, Woolard helped shape DuPont into a more streamlined and environmentally friendly company. In the late 1970s, DuPont responded to a spike in oil prices and high inflation by reducing senior management and combining departments. In 1983, under DuPont's new system, Woolard was given responsibility for three departments: Agricultural Chemicals Division, Medical Division, and Photo Products Division. He served in that capacity for three years before becoming Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer. Woolard became CEO in 1987 and worked to both streamline and evenly downsize DuPont for the good of the company. Although this period was difficult, his efforts proved successful for both DuPont and its employees. For his earnest reorganization of DuPont, Woolard received the Chemical Industry Medal in 1998. Woolard concluded the interview with a discussion of DuPont's major achievements during his career, retirement, and thoughts on his family.
|1956||North Carolina State University at Raleigh||BS||Industrial Engineering|
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.
International Palladium Medal, Society of Chemical Industry
Chemical Industry Medal, Society of Chemical Industry
Table of Contents
Growing up in Washington, North Carolina. Influence of parents. Interest in mathematics. Decision to attend North Carolina State University. Majoring in nuclear engineering. Enjoying college life. Switching major to industrial engineering. Graduation from college.
Marriage. Moving to Maryville, Tennessee. Employment with Alcoa. Leaving Alcoa for military service. Interviewing at DuPont's new plant in North Carolina. Accepting position with DuPont in industrial engineering. Moving into management.
Working shift operations. Managing people with good communication. Planning Department. Dacron production plant. Working with scientists. Using waste materials to make products. Polyesters. Work ethic at DuPont.
Competition. Coping with inflation. Transfer into Marketing. OPEC oil crisis. David Barnes. Reorganization. Textile Fibers Department. Streamlining departments. Management changes. Reduction of employees and management. Success of continuous improvement. New joint-ventures and innovations. Future of innovation at DuPont.
DuPont poised for future. Winning Chemical Industry Medal. Importance of teamwork and good leadership. Setting goals. Family.
About the Interviewer
James G. Traynham is a professor of chemistry at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. He holds a PhD in organic chemistry from Northwestern University. He joined Louisiana State University in 1953 and served as chemistry department chairperson from 1968 to 1973. He was chairman of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1988 and is currently councilor of the Baton Rouge section of the American Chemical Society. He was a member of the American Chemical Society’s Joint-Board Council on Chemistry and Public Affairs, as well as a member of the Society’s Committees on Science, Chemical Education, and Organic Chemistry Nomenclature. He has written over 90 publications, including a book on organic nomenclature and a book on the history of organic chemistry.