Director of Research and Development

North Chicago, IL

Posted: 08/25/2023 Industry: Laboratory - Food & Beverage Job Number: 258.23MH Experience:

Job Description

Director of Research and Development

Will play an integral role in driving the organization’s growth, competitiveness, and long-term success through cutting-edge advancements.  We are seeking a Foodie with a science background and proven leadership abilities to be accountable for overall leadership and performance of company’s research and development initiatives, guiding the R&D and cross-functional teams in the creation of innovative products, technologies, and processes that align with the company’s strategic goals.

We seek a contemporary and agile leader to build the R&D team, R&D center, and Pilot Plant. The Director must have a strong science, as well as food / culinary, background and connection to drive forward branded and customer-focused innovation and solutions. The leader will bring a proven record of building high performance teams, cross-functional collaboration, and inspirational leadership. The new leader will lead with sense of urgency, a growth mindset, people-focused and customer-first approach.


  • R&D Strategy: Develop and implement the R&D strategy in line with the company's overall vision and mission. Collaborate with executive leadership to align R&D efforts with business objectives and market demands.
  • Team Leadership: Recruit, train, lead, mentor, and inspire a team of scientists and other R&D professionals. Foster a collaborative and innovative work environment that encourages creativity, open communication, and professional growth. Partner with Marketing and the Culinary team to drive innovation.
  • Project Management: Own and oversee the PLM system and commercialization process / multiple R&D projects simultaneously, ensuring they stay on track, meet deadlines, and achieve desired outcomes. Allocate resources effectively and manage budgets efficiently.
  • Risk Management: Identify potential technical and operational risks in R&D projects and implement mitigation plans to minimize their impact on project success.
  • Technology and Product Development: Drive the development of new technologies, products, and solutions. Monitor emerging trends and assess potential opportunities for innovation and growth.
  • Intellectual Property: Develop and execute intellectual property strategies to protect and leverage the company's innovations. Oversee the process of patent applications and ensure compliance with relevant legal requirements.
  • Cross-Functional Collaboration: Collaborate with other departments such as marketing, manufacturing, and quality assurance to ensure successful integration of R&D outcomes into commercial products and processes through a culture of communication, transparency, efficiency, cross-functional collaboration and innovation.
  • Risk Management: Identify potential technical and operational risks in R&D projects and implement mitigation plans to minimize their impact on project success.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Stay up-to-date with industry regulations and ensure that all R&D activities comply with relevant laws, standards, and guidelines.
  • Performance Evaluation: Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) for the R&D team and regularly assess their performance. Provide feedback and implement strategies to enhance efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Continuous Improvement: Champion a culture of continuous improvement within the R&D team, encouraging the adoption of best practices and the utilization of cutting-edge methodologies.
  • Budget Management: Creation and monitoring of annual R&D budgets, KPIs and annual incentive compensation plan to ensure overachievement of annual targets, long-term profitable growth and customer satisfaction objectives.
  • Customer Experience: As needed, work with Sales to develop relationships with the R&D teams of strategic customer partners. 

**If you’d like to hear more about this opportunity and others we are currently working on, please contact Mary Harris-Rigas at

JO:  258.23MH

Job Requirements


  • Education /Experience Credentials. Ten or more years of R&D leadership experience with a strategic focus, preferably in the food industry. Food Science degree combined with Culinary background strongly preferred. 
  • R&D Excellence & Results Delivery. Dynamic leader with a demonstrated track record of successfully delivering R&D projects on time and within budget. Business acumen and the ability to align R&D efforts with organizational goals for growth and profitability. Excellent project management skills and the ability to handle multiple projects simultaneously. Familiarity with regulatory compliance requirements in relevant industries. Knowledge of intellectual property laws and processes related to patents and trademarks. Technologically savvy and proficient planner; adept with PLM system. Demonstrated ability to align R&D initiatives with business strategies and market demands.
  • Strategic Thinker with the Ability to Oversee Tactical Execution. Outstanding strategic leadership skills with proven analytical, strategic and intellectual capacity; possesses a general mindset and capabilities. Strong background in research methodologies, technology development, and product innovation. Critically important to the success in this role is the ability to prioritize strategic focus-areas and align those priorities within the organization. Visionary thinking and the ability to drive innovation and creativity among team members.
  • Servant Leader. A true leader with commanding business presence yet managed ego; a mature and confident individual; represents and embodies the company brand. Advanced interpersonal skills; genuine and “real,” not political; tough-minded but able to relate to all relevant stakeholders in an open, fair, and trusting manner. Demonstrates, promotes, and exemplifies company’s Core Values and fosters a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment. Relentlessly leads with passion, spirit, transparency, and integrity. Motivates self to learn, grow and achieve while motivating the team to achieve new heights in personal growth, innovation, and performance.  Inspires change and growth mind-set; continuously challenges the status quo fostering a culture of progress and innovation.
  • Customer-Focused with A Passion for Food and Culinary. The customer is central to the success of the company and part of our strategic differentiation. Understanding what this means and how to improve upon it is critical to the success of this role. A passion for all things food and culinary as the is part of the heritage of the company and one that continues to grow and evolve. Candidates must possess this passion. Experience collaborating with customers to deliver custom product innovation, engaging, and influencing to deliver against commitments within competitive and changing environments.
  • Strong Communication and Cross-Functional Collaboration Skills: Teamwork and communication are highly valued skills here. The candidate must possess the balance of accountability and ownership of their activities while also understanding the importance and necessity of cross-functional collaborative teamwork. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills; inspires and influences collaboration across all cross-functional disciplines toward continuous improvement of efficiency and quality. Demonstrated ability to coordinate, drive partnerships and allocate resources is essential.

**If you’d like to hear more about this opportunity and others we are currently working on, please contact Mary Harris-Rigas at

JO:  258.23MH

Meet Your Recruiter

Mary Harris
Section Manager/ Sr. Technical Recruiter

I specialize in connecting talent within the Food and Beverage Industry and proud to be part of CPS, Inc., which is on Forbes Top 20 Recruiting Firms list for 2017.

Being a manager and senior recruiter in the Food & Beverage group, our specialties include product development, quality, nutrition, regulatory, sensory, flavor development and application from entry level to executive.

I am part of a team of seven which provides more positions for candidates to consider and more candidates for client companies to consider.  We pride ourselves in building long lasting relationships and assisting both candidates and client companies in achieving their goals.

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