Thulin, who became the company’s No. 2 executive in May, will assume the president and CEO titles on February 24.
However, Buckley, who is set to retire on June 1, will stay on as chairman until 3M’s annual shareholder meeting on May 8 when the board plans to give Thulin, 58, the chairman title.
The decision to give Thulin both titles stands in contrast with a recent trend in Corporate America to separate the two powerful positions in an effort to increase transparency and management responsibility.
St. Paul-based 3M, which makes everything from Post-Its to sponges, said Thulin previously served as executive vice president of international operations before becoming COO in May. The company said international sales grew to almost $20 billion under Thulin's guidance and now account for two-thirds of overall sales.
“Inge is a proven leader with a terrific blend of strategic, business and analytical skills, and an excellent record of delivering both sales growth and operational efficiency in a wide range of global businesses,” Vance Coffman, 3M’s lead director, said in a statement.
Buckley has steered 3M’s ship since December 2005, driving its sales to a record-high of $30 billion last year.
"We thank George for his exemplary leadership over the last six years," said Coffman. "He achieved tremendous results for the company and navigated 3M successfully through one of the toughest economic times in recent history."
Shares of 3M gained 0.03% to $87.92 Wednesday morning, maintaining their 2012 rally of 7.5%.