2022 STEP Ahead Chair
Denise Rutherford, Ph.D.
Global Senior Executive and Board Director
Denise Rutherford is a Global Senior Executive and Board Director.
Throughout her 30-year career at 3M, Denise has held various leadership roles in the company’s research and development, Lean Six Sigma and business group organizations. Over her tenure, Denise has been committed to building sustainably-competitive businesses enabled by 3M’s core values and technologies.
Denise joined 3M in 1989 as a senior research chemist at 3M’s headquarters. From 2004-2017, Denise held several international leadership roles, including president of 3M Japan, vice president of 3M Greater China Area and president of 3M China, vice president of 3M Latin America and managing director of 3M Belgium.
Prior to her international assignments, Denise served as vice president for 3M’s aerospace business, in addition to holding several technical leadership and Lean Six Sigma roles. Before being named 3M’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Denise served as 3M’s Industrial Business Group’s R&D and commercialization leader.
Denise is an advocate for strengthening STEM education within local communities. She is also an active supporter of 3M’s Women Leadership Forum, working to foster an environment of inclusion and advancement for women leaders at every level of the company.
Denise serves on the board of directors of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and of STARBASE Minnesota, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and inspiring youth in STEM. She attended Murray State University, earning a bachelor’s in chemistry and mathematics, as well as a master’s in chemistry. In 1989, Denise received her Ph.D. in chemistry from Colorado State University.