Leading Small- to Medium-sized R&D Organizations

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Jeffrey J. Ares, ACS Career Consultant
Jeffrey J. Ares, ACS Career Consultant

Jeffrey J. Ares, ACS Career Consultant

Jeff obtained his pharmacy degree from the University of Rhode Island and his Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry from the Ohio State University. After a postdoc in organic chemistry at the University of Illinois, Jeff spent two years on the chemistry department faculty at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Jeff subsequently began a 30-year career in R&D at Procter & Gamble (P&G). For the first 16 years, Jeff was part of the P&G Pharmaceuticals organization, eventually becoming associate director of Medicinal Chemistry, a role he held for almost seven years. For the final 14 years of his P&G career, Jeff worked in various chemistry and life science leadership roles in the P&G Corporate Research organization, including four years as associate director of the Global Microbiology Capability Organization. Currently Jeff is president of Ares Consulting LLC, and he recently became an ACS Career Consultant. 

I retired from Procter & Gamble R&D about a year ago after 30 years—24 of which were spent in an R&D leadership role as section head or associate director. I was asked near the end if I could offer tips for leading groups varying from about 15 to 75 scientists, who work in an intense and dynamic industry R&D setting. Here are my responses.

  • Be true to yourself and your principles and values—never waver from your personal principles and values. There will be temptations to do so; however, remember that you must live with yourself first, all day every day.
  • Focus on the science—drive technical mastery. Know your technical area and maintain your expertise. You are leading scientists, and everything in R&D starts with the science.
  • Be respectful of everyone always—this is true in every interaction, everywhere, all the time. Every interaction leaves an outcome, and you want positive outcomes.
  • Lead actively and in service of others—create opportunities for others to thrive and help them to do so. However, actively jump in and work to get things done if the group needs it.  
  • Look for opportunities to collaborate—there is much to do and never enough people or time to do it. Look for opportunities to partner with others to get things done.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

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