Research and Development: Graduate Area of Work

Research and development (R&D) allows graduates to transform scientific ideas into business practices.
Carmen Teh
Writer, gradsingapore
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A career in this field will involve figuring out how to meet consumer demand and turn concepts into reality. FMCG companies place a priority in recruiting innovative and talented graduates for the R&D team as they play a vital role in ensuring that the company stays ahead of the competition.

The fundamental aim of R&D in this industry is to refine existing products and develop new ones with the use cutting-edge technologies.

As a nation known for its formidable research capabilities, Singapore is the leading player in the consumer business in Asia, with key multinational corporations (MNCs) such as Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, and Mondelez setting up R&D centres in Singapore.

The maturity of this area of work in Singapore provides graduates with vast learning and growth opportunities. 

Career overview

Although scientific and technological investigation and experiments make up a large part in graduate R&D jobs, you can expect to work outside of the lab as well, and with teams from other areas of the business, such as manufacturing and marketing.

Quite often, graduate training programmes offered by FMCG companies are designed to ensure interaction amongst the various teams.

As a graduate trainee, you can also expect your work to include patent protection, regulatory compliance and ensuring that products have the lowest possible environmental impact. This is where graduates are able to use their problem solving and analytical skills to make a real and positive impact to the environment.

That said, the structure of each R&D division varies depending on the company’s needs. Different tasks and roles will be assigned at different stages of a product’s life cycle ranging from prototype to manufacturing and full-scale production.

Additionally, some FMCG organisations have specific research centres located across the globe, giving graduates in this field the opportunity for travel and international exposure.

These centres tend to focus on conducting research to develop and/or improve a particular aspect of the organisation’s products, for example on flavour, fragrance, appearance, texture or nutrition only, rather than on the entire product as a whole.

Required skills

Unlike other areas of work in this sector, R&D roles call for candidates with technical qualifications in specific disciplines related to the field of research, for example in chemistry, chemical engineering, food science or biology.

Some research positions may also require postgraduate qualifications.

However, having the right qualifications may not be enough for you to secure the role as recruiters also look for individuals who have a different view on things, have good commercial awareness, and are curious and inquisitive in nature.

This is because R&D professionals need to be willing to constantly ask questions and to follow up on them in order to keep up with the quickly-changing market demands.

Ups and downs

A common frustration that researchers in this industry express is the need to keep up with the rapid changes in market trends and consumer demand. You may find yourself working on a project for some time, only to discover the need to alter your area of research due to an unexpected drop in demand.  

However, the variety of tasks that you will have to perform in your role will ensure an exciting job scope. You will also be surrounded by a diverse range of experts in their fields, providing you with plenty of resources and opportunities for growth.