Gerard Baillely is Senior Vice President, Research & Development, Corporate Functions for the Procter & Gamble Company. Gerard joined P&G’s R&D in 1985, after graduating from Lycee Descartes Tours in France in Mathematiques, Superieures & Speciales as well as for Chemistry from the Ecole Superieure de Chimie Industrielle de Lyon.
Gerard leads multiple strategic R&D disciplines for P&G covering digital innovation, analytical, data science, advanced statistics, life sciences and modeling to drive innovation, quality, operational speed and efficiency. During his 35-year career, Gerard has created a portfolio of products and initiatives that address unmet consumer needs across different categories (Fabric Care, Home Care, Oral Care) and regions (NA, Europe, Asia and LA).
In addition to his R&D Corporate Function responsibilities, Gerard is the Stewart of the Chemistry and Life Science Communities of Practice that span across P&G business units. Externally, Gerard is a member of the board for Living Well Collaborative, promoting the development of products and services for the ageing consumers.
Gerard has been a member of the board of the Consumer Specialty Product Association between 2012 and 2016. Gerard is a member of the AOCS (American Oil Chemist’s Society) Board of Directors and participates in activity programs that connect ACS (American Chemical Society) and the industry. Gerard has been appointed a member of the Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology within the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. On November 15th, 2018, Gerard was awarded the Chevalier de L’Ordre National du Mérite distinction by the President of France.
Science-based innovation is the lifeblood for business growth in the industry. How can scientists make the most of their interactions with decision makers to drive their ideas? I learned four lessons regarding this universal challenge:
- Show conviction, but be aware of tunnel vision or being defensive. Be an active listener, willing to learn.
- Do not engage to impress about how great you are. Show first your love with the problem at hand. The solution you advocate comes second. Demonstrating your critical thinking comes third. Your credentials come last. More often than not, business leaders will trust you are a subject matter expert.
- Just answer the questions you are asked; do not double guess the-question-behind-the-question. Yes or no are great answers. If asked “why?”, elaborate. You might be asked to provide answers for which you do not have all the facts. It is okay to say you do not know, and will come back with a well-thought response in 24 hours.
- Before the meeting? Breathe, be positive, and prepare yourself to listen and learn. Be true to your principles. Business leaders know well that this engagement with you will either be satisfying or disappointing for both. Like you, they prefer the former outcome, for you will speak highly after the meeting of their commitment to science and innovation!
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.