Academic journal article Research-Technology Management

Developing Intuition and Building Teams: Martin Jung: As Senior Vice President, Research Structural Materials, for BASF, Martin Jung Relies on Intuition and Thoughtful Team Engineering to Keep a Handle on the Big Picture

Academic journal article Research-Technology Management

Developing Intuition and Building Teams: Martin Jung: As Senior Vice President, Research Structural Materials, for BASF, Martin Jung Relies on Intuition and Thoughtful Team Engineering to Keep a Handle on the Big Picture

Article excerpt

I started my career in research as a chemist. I earned a PhD in polymer chemistry at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, and I worked for three years in research on polymer chemistry. Then I was offered a position as assistant to a board member. I entered a totally different world--a world of corporate steering, strategy, and communications.

After that, I worked in marketing and sales in Hong Kong for a commodity business, then came back to Europe to hold a larger responsibility for an intermediaries business with a large variety of business models. I am now department head for research of structural materials, with responsibility not only to shape the research but also to help guide product development in the sector.

At BASF, in addition to our functional structure, we also have an industry focus. I am R&D spokesperson for our automotive activities. BASF has an automotive research portfolio of more than 250 million [euro], so it's a broad and interesting scope.

Each of these jobs has given me a little piece of the big picture and helped me to grow. They have helped me to develop a sense of which ideas and projects have a high probability to make it to market. This intuition is important. In a portfolio of more than 300 projects, we use a lot of formal KPIs, but in the end you need good intuition about what's feasible and what's not.

Throughout my career, the customer's perspective has been very important. I have tried to expose myself to customer situations in whatever jobs I have had. This aids in developing intuition. It's also motivating. If researchers see the actual outcomes of their work--and customer sites are the best place to do this--it is powerful. It is the satisfaction of innovation in motion, which can't be surpassed by any bonus.

I spend a lot of time thinking about teams--maybe you would call it "team engineering. …

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