A Fulfilled Potential

Ernest Tuckett, general counsel of DuPont Canada, on the benefits of working for a progressive business

Ernest Tuckett full May 2014_v2Ernest Tuckett is a businessperson through and through, but as general counsel for DuPont Canada, he has been able to combine his work with his passions for community activism and the enrichment of people’s lives. Here, he explains the particulars of his role, his company’s various social-responsibility initiatives, and the generous support he gets for his own outreach efforts.

Advantage: What are some of your biggest passions?
Ernest Tuckett: I like to see people reach their full potential. I like to empower people. I’m a connector and take satisfaction in connecting people to resources to help their lives. I also love music, sports, writing, and movies.

Tell me a bit about your role as general counsel for DuPont Canada.
As general counsel, I’m a member of the DuPont Canada leadership team and report directly to the president. I supervise the legal team and am responsible for ethics and compliance. I sit on a number of leadership teams such as the growth board and the pension committee. I am part of our customer-centricity team, which increases our focus on our customers, from the front line to the back office.

The general counsel role is a strong leadership role. This has been an opportunity to grow as a leader and get involved in running the daily business of the company.

WHY LAW?

“My mother used to say I had an opinion about everything. She said, ‘You ought to be a lawyer.’ So I owe it to her. I also like doing business and believe in using the law to help people. I enjoy working hand in hand with business leaders at DuPont and contributing to their continued success.”

What have you learned since joining DuPont Canada in 2012?
Since moving to DuPont Canada, I’ve learned about what DuPont does all around the world. Our leadership team is composed of country leaders for each of our 12 global business units and various functions [e.g., finance, legal, IT]. By interacting with them daily and supporting their teams, in my two years in Canada, I’ve learned more about DuPont and our products than in my prior six years with the company.

What makes DuPont unique?
There are two things that I think make DuPont unique: our core values and innovation. On paper, they may sound similar to the values stated by other companies; the difference is that they reflect the way we work and how we operate every day—with our customers, our partners, and in the community.

We have developed some of the greatest science innovations in the world and have the greatest scientists and marketing and business leaders who understand how to commercialize that science to provide solutions to address global megatrends.

Tell me a bit about DuPont’s Primary Law Firm initiative. How does this help further the company’s diversity initiatives?
Our Primary Law Firm [PLF] network extends into Canada but is US-driven from our headquarters. We have 45 law firms and service providers across the continent that provide the bulk of our outside legal services. Through the network, we realize a number of efficiencies and have created strong relationships with the law firms. A commitment to diversity is required for any law firms who do or seek to do our work. Also, for more than 15 years, DuPont has sponsored the DuPont Women Lawyers Network and the DuPont Minority Counsel Network as part of the PLF network. We also run minority job fairs in four different cities every year.

Ernest Tuckett’s
Career Milestones

1995
Graduates from Georgetown University Law Center

1995–2006
Practices with the law firm Arent Fox in Washington, DC

2006
Joins DuPont’s labour and employment group in the United States

2010
Becomes a commercial lawyer supporting DuPont’s crop-protection business

2012
Is appointed as general counsel for DuPont Canada

What makes a good corporate lawyer?
To be a good corporate lawyer, especially in-house, you must also be a good businessperson. Our job is not only to provide legal advice and protect the company from risk but also to enable the business to be sustainable, productive, and financially successful. DuPont Canada has, and has always had, some of the best lawyers and paralegals in the business. The legal team members that are or have been here are strong in their legal skill and also in their ability to deliver legal advice and services from the perspective of our internal corporate clients—from the clients’ points of view with the interests of the business in mind. That perspective requires seeking how we can get the deal done properly versus coming up with reasons why we can’t.

How do you incorporate your nonprofit experience into your corporate work?
DuPont has supported my work with a number of community activities. Since law school, I’ve been involved with Street Law, Inc., a nonprofit organization that creates classroom and community programs that teach people about law, democracy, and human rights worldwide. I am currently on the Street Law board of dir­ectors. In addition, I’ve been involved in many pipeline projects with students from middle school to college and law school, helping students gain access to the legal profession who have not otherwise had access.

What are your future goals at DuPont?
As part of DuPont Canada’s 2020 vision, we are looking to double our revenue. We are poised for great growth not only in the agriculture sector, which is our largest source of revenue, but also in food, mining, oil and gas, packaging, and many other industries. Our purpose, as a science company, is to collaboratively find sustainable, innovative, and market-driven solutions to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.