To achieve our vision to inspire and share the joy of baking, bringing people together and building stronger, healthier communities, King Arthur Flour (KAF) is looking for a dynamic individual to lead the development, execution and ongoing management of KAF’s innovation pipeline, exploring and prioritizing new opportunities that blend with our nearly 230-year-old heritage. She/he will imagine new possibilities at the intersection of King Arthur Flour and baking. This fast-paced position is responsible for launching mission-based strategic initiatives to increase revenues and market share, driving critical growth for the company. This highly collaborative role will be responsible for idea generation, conceptualization, analysis and testing of new products and concepts. The ideal candidate thrives on challenge and thinks conceptually, and is also able to quickly size up opportunities and bring concepts to reality. This role will work concurrently on a multitude of projects, both big and small. We’re looking for a visionary leader who ‘connects the dots’ around our business and consumer insights, and articulates concepts and analytical solutions in a clear and compelling way.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities
- Lead innovation framework/process and define guardrails on how innovation is to be managed, from research to insights to project prioritization.
- Leverage brand positioning, consumer insights and R&D discovery to develop an innovation roadmap for designated opportunity areas that align with KAF business strategy.
- As a champion for innovation across the organization, provide ongoing leadership to cross-functional teams across a range of projects with multiple components; these may include research and insights, channel strategy, valuation and business case development – in collaboration with Marketing, Creative, Operations, Sales, and Finance.
- Plan/facilitate dynamic work sessions to inspire innovative ideas, agile iteration, and effective decision-making.
- Identify and experiment with new techniques and models for research, product design, testing, and distribution to build innovation best practices and expand the company’s knowledge.
- Transition strong conceptual ideas into testable business propositions: opportunity sizing, customer & partner benefits, brand fit, operational feasibility.
- Develop a strong and measurable pipeline: oversee innovation projects through the internal stage-gate process, monitoring and adjusting as needed to ready innovation projects for commercialization.
- Build internal stakeholder knowledge and understanding of consumer insights and emerging trends around innovation opportunity areas; understand why consumers act and feel the way they do and can transform findings into recommendations that will drive and support product development.
- Define, conduct, and/or contract appropriate research activities, and evaluate findings.
- Manage, direct and align Research and Development team to ensure ongoing flow into the innovation pipeline.
- Ensure follow-through on development of new products as well as reformulation of existing products.
- Foster process improvements, ensuring adequate resources are provided.
- Develop and manage R&D budget.
- Manage direct reports via coaching, mentoring, training and ongoing feedback to drive individual results and develop leadership skills and influence; challenge and inspire team members to achieve business results.
- Openly communicate team and individual expectations and concerns
- Be readily accessible, willing to listen and seek to understand
- Engage the team: motivating, directing, inspiring and involving them in decisions
- Nurture growth in others by supporting their passions, strengths and work styles
- Maintain employee attitude and morale by recognizing outstanding performance and managing performance issues
Minimum job requirements
- 10+ years in food industry innovation, product development/design, business development and/or strategy role(s)
- Previous experience in, or strong passion for, the baking space
- BA required; MBA strongly preferred
- Demonstrated experiences leading cross-functional teams
- Highly analytical, motivated, decisive thought leader with excellent execution skills.
- Strategic mind with an ability to think broadly, refine questions, and influence multiple decision makers
- Current consumer packaged goods experience to both identify and initiate appropriate partnership alliances
- Track record of taking calculated risks for the long-term benefit of the organization and is thereby considered a progressive thought-leader
- Strong foundational understanding of supply chain and operational effectiveness
- Demonstrated experience working closely with leadership
- Proven track record of successful innovations
Required Knowledge and Skills
- Creative and strategic problem solver with high curiosity quotient
- Ability to operate fluidly between strategic/conceptual and tactical/executional
- Ability to quickly evaluate solution viability, courage to fail fast and learn from mistakes
- Strong and varied communication approaches to explain and evangelize new concepts
- Excellent communication and presentation skills; dynamic (persuasive) in presenting ideas to teams
- Comfortable solving problems through a ‘hypothesis’ driven approach using a combination of top-down and bottom-up analyses.
- Must possess rigorous analytical disciplined approach as well as dynamic, abstract problem solving skills (get to the answer via both ‘inspiration’ and ‘perspiration’)
- Strong interpersonal skills as team leader and team player with experience cross-functional team management.
- Must have a ‘change agent’ attitude; constantly pushing KAF to new opportunities, approaches, ideas, perspectives.
Success factors/competencies for this role
- Open to change; recommend actions for continuous improvement
- Think and act strategically; understand how role contributes to larger outcome
- Provide exemplary customer service to both internal and external customers
- Set high standards for oneself; meet deadlines
- Learn from mistakes; receptive to feedback
- Effective communicator; listen to and respect others’ points of view
- Participate in team problem solving and decision making
- Maintain a positive attitude
- Community minded – get involved, volunteer
Physical requirements/work environment
- Physical requirements
- Regularly sit for extended periods of time
- Use computer equipment including keyboard, mouse and monitor 4-8 hours daily
- Work environment
- Open office work environment; workspace exists in an open-office environment near multiple coworkers
- Understand that safety is the responsibility of everyone at the organization
- Responsible for providing a safe and ergonomically sound work environment, identifying unsafe conditions and correcting these conditions immediately
- Engage in safety and compliance training programs and encourage 100% team participation in same
- Adhere to company-wide green norms, look for ways to reduce, reuse, recycle
- Educate oneself on KAF environmental campaigns
- Strive to continually improve and implement new processes to reduce our environmental impact