Illinois Tool Works, Inc. Director of R&D and Innovation in Houston, Texas

Director of R&D and Innovation at ITW

Job Description

Position at ITW Car Care


The Director, R&D and Innovation role is the senior innovation thought leader for the ITW Car Care Division. S/He will successfully build a pipeline of sustainable differentiation through market scouting and exhibiting a visionary understanding of emerging opportunities that can be turned into business solutions. The successful candidate will be able to apply out of the box thinking and resources, utilizing best in class scientific methodologies in new product design while creating ideation around improved enhancements to existing products. As a key member of the Leadership Team, the incumbent will work in concert with cross-functional leads to identify, evaluate, develop and commercialize new products & technologies to generate organic growth as measured by two factors: (1) enhancing market share in accelerated growth segments and maintaining share in market rate growth segments; (2) generating at least 10% of annual operating revenue from NPD.

9 Key Areas: Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Visionary Thought Leadership & Technical Solutions Scouting
  1. Using an “outside-in” approach, assesses emerging trends & opportunities and connects with internal and/or external resources to develop ideas into business solutions.

  2. Develops and leverages influential networks of business partners, internal stakeholders, external industry, academic partners, regulatory and supplier connections to identify new technologies and applications and apply “Proof of Principle” testing regime to understand their application to ITW’s business

  • New Product Development (NPD), including exploring both short term and long term solutions that create a sustainable pipeline of differentiated new products.
  1. Leverages market knowledge, consumer & customer behavior, industry trends and advances in technology. Leads, develops and inspires a team to explore, test, learn and translate knowledge into tangible solutions.

  2. Understands & embraces the “fit for purpose” mindset to product development and, when available and relevant, delivers uniqueness and differentiation through intellectual property (including trade secrets), testing protocol and/or supplier partnerships.

  3. Directs research and product development efforts and ensures key milestones, project timelines and approved budgets are met.

  4. Establishes and aligns business case with cross-functional Directors and VP/GM to deliver revenue & margin targets. Prioritizes by using the ITW Toolbox (especially 80/20)

  • Creates a collaborative, learning & accountable culture, working closely with internal and external customers/resources, and delivering speed, quality & value consistently.
  1. a) Responsible for hiring, developing and providing ongoing, timely and actionable feedback to team b) Ensures ongoing learning and development through identification of resources that enables the continuous development of a high-performing team.

  2. c) Responsible for building solid leadership bench strength across the team, as well as the ability to grow talent

  3. d) Continues building upon a culture of accountability, commitment and solid employee engagement.

  • Mechanical Engineering Expertise
  1. Able to evaluate alternative solutions beyond chemistry to solve customer & consumer issues by taking inspiration from alternative categories such as home care, small appliances and communication devices.

  2. Ensures the R&D team has a deep understanding of mechanical engineering principles and how those principles can be applied to bring effective business solutions.

  3. Administers an engineering program of high technical competence and judgment and ensures sound technical engineering concepts are applied.

  • Formulation Expertise
  1. Ensures the R&D team has a deep understanding of surface science & chemistry and how those principles can be applied to bring effective solutions to market. Chemical physics understanding would be an added benefit, especially in areas such as cleaning, shining, removing deposits and dirt/dust particles, disinfecting, sanitizing, lubricating and providing barrier protection.

  2. Manages product performance testing, validation & competitive comparisons.

  3. Coordinates with other divisions (ie, additives, body repair, engine repair, global tire repair) in preparing formulations, development and process designs and in establishing uniform specifications for materials and equipment.

  • Ensures deep organizational understanding of packaging and package engineering, including expertise in various packaging elements and materials.

  • Establishes best-in-class quality assurance protocol as well as some combination of internal/external product design & validation expertise for devices, tools, electronics, etc.

  • Supervisory responsibility over the lab and performance testing center, including labs, safety, utilities, service and maintenance.

  • Support divisional Strategic Planning process as needed to include competitive analysis, product testing and claim development, market sizing & trend input and the evaluation and recommendation of business strategies and tactics.


Minimum Qualifications:

  1. 15 years’ professional business experience leading both technical and non-technical teams

  2. Must have at least 5 years’ experience directly managing professional managers & leaders

  3. Must have outstanding leadership skills, with demonstrated success in fostering a collaborative, accountable and solution-oriented environment that consistently delivers successful results to the bottom line.

  4. Must be innovative, flexible, curious and have exhibited visionary success by identifying and successfully translating market ideas into tangible business solutions. Must have demonstrated success in reading market conditions, understanding and prioritizing speed and urgency based on changing market conditions.

  5. BS degree in Mechanical Engineering or applicable field (MS preferred). Familiarity with metal, alloys, machined parts, rotating assemblies, injection molds, extrusions and metal/plastic surfaces. PhD in similar fields and/or advanced chemistry is a plus.

  6. Must have proven & successful new product launch experience, including intimate familiarity with innovation funnel, strong supplier relationships and effective product lifecycle planning.

Additional Preferred Qualifications:

  1. Design, testing, validation process expertise

  2. Proven portfolio management and project/process management experience

  3. Must have strong business acumen and outstanding presentation skills (to customers, industry experts, senior internal staff and media)

  4. Experience in the Automotive Aftermarket industry


  • Must have a solid strategic view that positions the business to win in markets

  • Results orientation—understands the importance of delivering tangible results and embraces accountability

  • Develops and manages talent, including mentoring & collaborating

  • Leads effectively—understands how to use personal influence in building great teams, leading by example, establishing cross functional reporting and consensus and collaboration

  • Can effectively apply an “outside-in” approach to solutions and opportunities, seeing through the eyes of the consumer and customer

  • Anticipates and manages complex situations

  • Understands 80/20 methodology and can drive strong financial results and growth targets

  • Personal composure under pressure

  • Balances data, logic and intuition in decision-making

  • Must have dynamic, effective presentation skills

*Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of the job.

*This job description should not be construed to contain every function/responsibility that may be required to be performed by an incumbent in this position. Incumbents are required to perform other related functions as assigned.

ITW is an Equal Opportunity / Affirmative Action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, color, religion, national origin, disability, protected veteran status, age, or any other characteristic protected by law.