Research and development (R&D) directors oversee their company's R&D department(s). As such, they are responsible for ensuring that companies meet their objectives for researching and developing new products or technologies and improve existing products. To accomplish these goals, R&D directors lead their company's research staff. They must ensure that their companies correctly understand and anticipate market demand, planning and developing products to meet consumer needs and remain competitive in the marketplace.
R&D directors perform a number of specific, project-related duties as part of leading research and development efforts. They might lead efforts to develop a new line of products to meet consumer demand. After the development stage, they might assist in organizational planning efforts to scale up the production. Subsequently, they would likely be involved in planning how to modify company infrastructure to enable production of the new product, including acquisition of materials and altering capabilities of manufacturing plants. If necessary, this task extends to planning for a new manufacturing plant to be constructed.
Other tasks include monitoring market trends, devising methods of applying new technologies to their companies’ manufacturing and production, streamlining production and analyzing efficiency, and designing or planning manufacturing equipment necessary for new products.
Companies typically require both an advanced degree in a related engineering or managerial field, as well as experience in research and development. R&D directors typically work full time in an office environment, with periodic fieldwork and overtime required. R&D directors must be technically and scientifically minded, capable communicators, and excellent with organization, strategic planning, and management. They must have an thorough knowledge of relevant regulations and laws pertaining to the field, as well as related technologies and marketing.
Research & Development (R&D) Director Tasks
- In accordance with company objectives develop and monitor research plans and budgets for R&D projects, ensuring projects are completed on time and within cost objectives.
- Drive accountability, consistency, quality, and process standardization across all phases of research and development.
- Direct the Research and Development (R&D) program, from new product proposal to commercialization.