Leading Global Vegetable Seed Company Seeks Dynamic Chief Research and Development Officer

Kincannon & Reed has been retained to recruit a Chief Research and Development Officer for a Global Vegetable Seed Company.


Our client is a fast-growing, multi-cultural organization with over 5,400 employees. It has 17 R&D establishments in 7 countries. The company exports to over 60 countries in tropical areas of the world.

Our Client introduced market-oriented plant breeding in 1982, with the mission to improve the income of smallholder farmers through high-quality vegetable seeds. They have played an important role in the improvement of tropical vegetable varieties that are adapted to local markets and growing conditions. The privately-owned company produces and markets a wide portfolio of hybrid and open-pollinated seeds. In addition, the company educates farmers and helps them to maximize their yield through better knowledge on vegetable production.

The founder has been recognized for his transformative role in empowering millions of smallholder farmers in more than 60 countries to earn greater incomes through enhanced vegetable production, benefitting hundreds of millions of consumers with greater access to nutritious vegetables for healthy diets. His initiative over the past four decades has developed a dynamic, smallholder-centric tropical vegetable seed industry, starting in Southeast Asia and spreading through Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

As a member of the senior leadership team, this role includes full participation in overall business strategy planning and development to support the long-term objectives of the company at a key time in its history.

The Position

This role is at the forefront in developing strategies that lead to a competitive plant breeding organization that continuously feeds a successful and competitive portfolio of product innovations and breakthroughs for the company and its customers, the millions of smallholder farmers around the world. S/he will be responsible for building, developing, and leading world-class, highly capable, and top-performing R&D teams.

Position Responsibilities include:

Corporate Strategy Development

  • Provides inputs to the long-term strategy and direction planning for the Group taking into consideration the long-term objectives of the company in fulfillment of its vision and mission.

R&D Strategy Development and Execution

  • Leads the ongoing development of the Group R&D vision and strategy based on an assessment of the global landscape and identifies opportunities to support long-term growth and goals of the business.
  • Provides strategic insight to guide, influence, and directs the focus of R&D sub-function priorities and initiatives linking them to specific business-driven objectives, and to identify and address current gaps and emerging requirements for the short, medium, and long term.
  • Establishes a high-level roadmap for driving and coordinating strategic R&D initiatives globally. Ensures full accountability for the successful execution and delivery of results.

Innovations Management

  • Ensures that there is a robust organization and sustainable process in place for driving continuous innovations to maintain a healthy and competitive product development pipeline. Has strategic, input on how to shape the company’s product portfolio innovations on a global scale.
  • Promotes the constant exploration, experimentation, and adoption of new scientific concepts/technologies to strengthen the company’s technical capability and industry leadership as the company with the best-in-class plant breeding techniques, pest and disease management, and crop performance (quality and yield).
  • Optimizes the use and management of global R&D data analytics to lead innovation initiatives operational excellence.

Stakeholder and Risk Management

  • Collaborates with the company’s senior management in understanding their requirements and aligns the R&D team towards offering customer-centric solutions.
  • Updates stakeholders on new government and regulatory legislation that may pose a threat or risk to the business and that may impact product development activities. Ensures the availability of risk mitigation plans.
  • Establishes a strong external connection/network keeping abreast of the latest developments and participates in key discussions, consultations, conferences, and forums that may impact R&D activities. agriculture industry.

R&D Capability Building

  • Is responsible for building a fully optimized and efficient global R&D organization structure.
  • Works collaboratively with HR partners in driving a robust talent management plan aimed at increasing talent strength and healthy succession pipeline.
  • Develops and drives strategy for improving the overall capability of the R&D team to support current and future business requirements.
  • Manages overall engagement, performance, and productivity of the R&D team across countries.

Financial Management

  • Oversees the preparation and review of annual operating budget and CAPEX for R&D: ensures that all proposed investments are supported by solid business cases and comprehensive financial analyses.
  • Ensures that R&D initiatives are delivered while keeping within financial metrics.

Other important parameters for this position include:

  • The position will be based in Asia.
  • Extensive travel (~30%) throughout the region and globally will be required.

Candidate Profile

We seek an inspiring, dynamic, and highly progressive Chief R&D Officer who can lead and inspire the company’s global R&D teams towards shaping the new and exciting future of product innovations for the company. The ideal candidate will have most of the following:

Experience required or desired

  • 5-7 years’ experience in a senior R&D executive role gained from a global multinational organization
  • A credible and visionary R&D leader who has successfully driven/led strategic and complex R&D initiatives at a global scale involving multiple stakeholders
  • Had led a business transformation or turn-around with demonstrated results.
  • Must have a Ph.D. in Plant Sciences or related field.

Skills and personal characteristics

  • Global business insight; strong understanding of the business, industry, and market dynamics at a global scale.
  • Strategic mindset: able to anticipate, visualize and defend future scenarios; applies critical thinking in diagnosing/analyzing complex situations and problem-solving
  • Agility: is comfortable to shift style or ways of working depending on the business situation; able to thrive in an organization where structure/process is yet on development stage and to ensure it becomes sustainable
  • Strong sense of accountability; thinks and acts like an owner
  • Drive for results: passionate to deliver results and is not easily daunted by challenges; strong execution capability
  • Inspires and encourages unbridled creativity to allow teams to bring their best ideas forward and constantly feed the company’s innovation pipeline: able to challenge the team to come up with new and challenging ideas
  • Balances stakeholders: considers different views of stakeholders and makes balanced, well-thought-out decisions
  • Strong influencer: effectively communicates; able to influence towards the right decisions and actions
  • People-oriented: able to inspire and motivate people with a variety of cultural backgrounds and coach them to get the best out of them and develop them

Financial acumen: understands the fundamentals of financial management and analyses as basis for making healthy business decisions.

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