Research and Development Director

What is a Research and Development Director (R&D Manager)?

Research and Development Managers play a key role in companies. They are tasked with managing business activities aimed at innovation in production. Said ‘innovation’ often concerns various fields. But in general, it tends to refer to:

  • Process innovation, which involves exploring new techniques to create products.
  • Product innovation, which is when the product itself is improved.

And what’s more, Research and Development Directors are also required to design, implement and check processes and plans to improve products.


What does a Research and Development Director do?

Research and Development Directors carry out key business activities. In fact, they are responsible for controlling, coordinating and carrying out research in various company departments, guaranteeing the continuous innovation of products and work processes. It’s only by doing so that companies are able to grow and remain truly competitive on the market.

The term Research and Development (also referred to as R&D, RND, Research and Technical Development, Research and Technological Development and RTD), refers to the people, financial resources and means dedicated to the study and development of technological innovation with the aim of improving products, creating new ones and making production processes more efficient. R&D Managers oversee this area of the company, ensuring that it functions correctly.

But what concrete tasks does a Research and Development Manager actually have within a company? People in this role tend to collaborate with various company departments, interacting with different people. R&D Managers tend to analyse trends, demand and target customer and reference market needs in collaboration with the marketing department in order to anticipate trends. They often identify new products and processes to be developed, but also those to be improved, via careful analysis. They coordinate, identify and process various projects, establishing their feasibility in terms of investment and financing opportunities.

They manage and research contacts at research centres, universities, organisations and companies that deal with innovation in Italy and abroad, establishing various forms of collaboration.  R&D Project Managers have a very high degree of autonomy and coordinate their own working groups, which tend to be comprised of creatives, designers and technicians, giving the go ahead to various projects within the established time frame. They collaborate with managers in various business departments: from production to marketing, through to quality control and sales. Research and Development Directors are supported in their role by IT tools that help them to manage activities and projects, as well as software that assists internal and external communication.


How do you become a Research and Development Director?

Research and Development Directors are highly coveted, which is why a high business profile and an excellent level of education is required. R&D Managers must possess cross-departmental knowledge, but they must also be flexible and creative, without ever losing sight of the practicality of their work. In order to get into this career, a degree in an economic or financial subject or in the marketing sector is often required. It’s also certainly useful to study for a Master’s degree in order to perfect one’s skills and CV and to render abilities more concrete and effective.

In order to enter the profession, it is essential to possess some fairly specific knowledge. First of all, Research and Development Directors must be aware of the trends and technology related to the sector they work in. They must be able to easily use various IT tools, such as databases, design software and presentation software. Furthermore, it is useful to be familiar with the regulations regarding product and process certification and compliance, as well as various project management techniques (activities, materials, timings, human and financial resources).

The role also often requires an ability to analyse the reference market and its competitive dynamics, in order to make work processes more efficient. Depending on the sector in which they operate (telecommunications, pharmaceutics, the chemical or engineering fields, etc.) specific technical and scientific knowledge is also required.

And that’s not all, Research and Development Managers must also be able to forge internal and external business relationships and must therefore have excellent interpersonal skills and a good knowledge of languages (English in particular), in order to to make contact with international businesses. Finally, methods, tools and products are often updated on a cyclical basis, which is why individuals in this role often need to be fairly resourceful, open-minded and curious, as well as in possession of good leadership and managerial skills.


How much can a Research and Development Director expect to earn?

Research and Development Director are highly sought-after individuals, which is why those aspiring to get into this career can expect to earn a decent wage. The salary for this job ranges from €130,000 to €155,000 and is highly variable because it is linked to the sector, tasks and the size of the company at hand. The profession is certainly increasing in demand, especially abroad, where R&D Managers have become fundamental to company development and growth, taking on a leading role in the organisation chart.

How a Master’s in Business Management with a focus in Green Management and Sustainable Businesses at BBS could help you to become a Research and Development Director

Bologna Business School offers a Master’s in Business Management with a focus on Green Management and Sustainable Businesses, perfect for learning how to make an effective Research and Development Director. The course tackles important issues, such as business models, the conscious use of resources, efficient planning processes and guiding brand choices based on sustainability and green management.

The Bologna Business School Master’s is ideal for work in a variety of sectors, from energy to manufacturing to agriculture in order to face future challenges, increase productivity and become competitive on the market in a sustainable way. The Business Management Master’s is organised into three cycles with classroom activities, workshops and team work, as well as testimonials from the business world itself, offering stimulating meetings and an in-house corporate internship.

As always, Bologna Business School offers a high level of training. Theoretical lessons are combined with practical experience in order to enrich CVs and ensure easier entry into the world of work. In addition to an internship, the course includes three one-month projects and one longer six-month project.