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DAA: Jeremy Xu

Jeremy Xu

, | Distinguished Ag Alumni: 2012

Jeremy (Jinghuai) Xu intended to become a university professor of biotechnology, but his balanced knowledge of both experimental science and business led him instead into corporate research and business development. Xu leads 320 professionals in finance, marketing, sales, technology, and supply chain management for DuPont Protection Technologies, a unit of DuPont that owns the well-known brands Kevlar® and Tyvek®, among others. Xu’s responsibility extends to Japan, Korea, China, India, Australia, and 15 other countries, and the total business revenue of the Asia Pacific area he manages exceeded $800 million in 2011. Under his leadership, the business has doubled in five years. This savvy businessman considers himself a scientist first. “I’m not unique — we have many managers with Ph.D. degrees,” he says. “Everything we do in DuPont is built on solid science.” Xu grew up in China and attended one of the top universities in his province, where he met his wife, Lingling Shi. He worked for two years in a research institute in southern China before pursuing graduate study in Hong Kong, where a chain of contacts introduced him to Purdue. Today Xu tells friends he “lives in an airplane,” as he travels a region highly diverse in culture, language, and economics. His management style is one of servant leadership: “I put the right people in the right place and make sure they have the right tools and resources for mutually agreed-upon common goals. It’s all built on trust,” he explains. “I trust them, and they trust me.” He also is committed to mentoring younger managers, both because he enjoys it and because he feels an obligation to pay back the many people at Purdue and DuPont who coached him along the way. Xu is a relentlessly hard worker whose business acumen and interpersonal skills have helped him earn the company’s top awards. Working for a U.S. company in Asia involves frequent evening conference calls, so Xu has little spare time during the workweek. He devotes weekends to his family, which includes two daughters, and he plays bridge — another skill he practiced at Purdue.