Ninth in a series highlighting this year’s recipients of the Purdue University College of Agriculture’s Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award. The series will conclude Feb. 29 . The 10 honorees will receive their awards March 2 during a 3:30 p.m. convocation in the Purdue Memorial Union North Ballroom.
Jeremy Xu, PhD ’99, MBA ’01, of Shanghai, China, is business director in the Asia Pacific region of DuPont Protection Technologies. Xu and his team of 320 professionals are responsible for business strategies for products such as Kevlar, Nomex and Tyvek in Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and 15 other countries.
At Purdue, Xu earned his MBA with an emphasis in finance and operations from the Krannert Graduate School of Management.
• Which Purdue faculty member had the most profound impact on your professional career? My major professor, Peter Goldsbrough, head of botany and plant pathology, had a big impact on my career. Peter never looks over his student’s shoulder to check on everything every day. He puts a great deal of trust in his students and staff and believes we can manage our work well. But he always made himself available if we had questions or issues. I find it very effective in my management philosophy: Give my team the full trust and resources to enable them to do the work, yet always be available for any support they need. I have an open-door policy. Any staff member in my team can walk into my office to talk to me at any time.
• What part of your visit back to campus in March are you most looking forward to? Two things in particular: play bridge at the local bridge club, where I played almost every week during my six years at Purdue, and have a catfish sandwich at the Lafayette Brewing Company in downtown Lafayette.
• Why did you select Purdue as the place to continue your education? I was interested in plant biotechnology, and Purdue is among the best research universities in the world. Plus, Purdue provided a full research scholarship.
• Where was your favorite place on campus to study? The Life Sciences Library in Lilly Hall. It is special because it is close to our lab and I can find all the literature there. I went there mostly for reading the journals.
• Were you a good student when you were at Purdue? Yes, my GPA was 4.0.
• What was the most difficult course you took at Purdue? I was OK with all the courses. My favorite course was BCHM 561 with Professor (Victor) Rodwell. I served as his teaching assistant for two semesters. He is an old-fashioned professor who taught the fundamentals of biochemistry. I still remember many of the concepts I learned from his lectures.
• What do you miss most about your college days at Purdue? I miss watching American sports on TV. I liked basketball (and also played over the weekend with friends, and sometimes with Peter and other professors at lunchtimes). I like watching both the college-level games and the NBA. I witnessed Michael Jordan's greatness at his prime. I am a big fan of Purdue basketball games, too. I bought season tickets for myself and my older daughter. We enjoyed two seasons of women's basketball games and never missed a game. In 1999, when Purdue won the national championship, we went to the Purdue airport to welcome our players home. I also like American football. I learned all the rules by watching the games on TV.
• What is the best advice you got while you were at Purdue? Don't buy stocks; buy stock index, so you will never be beaten by the market. That was the advice not given by my finance professor at Krannert but by my PhD adviser, Peter Goldsbrough. I followed his advice. It did not make me rich but helped me sleep well during the recession.
• What is the best advice you have ever given? Either lead, follow, or get out of the way.Read about other 2012 Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award winners.