Article by: Perry Romanowski
When you get a job in the cosmetic industry you’ll most likely be working in the Research and Development department, or The Lab, as most people will call it. But there is much more to your company outside the Lab and if you want to advance your career, you’ll need to become familiar with other departments. Here is a brief rundown of all the departments you might have at your company and how you may interact with them. Note, your company may be organized slightly different.
In most big cosmetic companies, this is the group that drives new product development. They are given responsibility for building brands so they help drive the launch of new products, the advertising, the promotion and the aesthetic characteristics formulas. As a cosmetic formulator you will usually get a product brief from a marketer explaining exactly the type of product they want you to create. Marketing people are your internal “customers” and you need to make sure they are happy.
This group interacts with consumers to find insights which lead to the development of new products or advertising claims. Marketing relies heavily on them for collecting data that supports the launch of new products. As a scientist you will rely on them to help provide direction for your formulation development work. Be careful, however, just because the word “Research” is in their department name, it doesn’t mean that they are doing scientific research. The results from their research are highly subjective.
The Sales people are responsible for selling your products to resellers. They are often looked at as the most important group because they directly bring in money. They also have to do a fair amount of traveling and work all the time. They may call on you to do presentations at their sales meetings or even to develop products specifically for their customers. In their zeal to get things done quickly, the sales people will sometimes work outside the system and make requests that you probably shouldn’t fulfill. Of course, it’s good to make friends with the Sales department as they are often the most powerful group in the company. Help them whenever you can.
These are the people that help design and source new and alternative packaging. You will have to interact with them to ensure that the formula you develop is appropriate for the package they want to use. Note that in some companies the Packaging department is part of R&D.
The Purchasing group is responsible for negotiating with sales people and getting the best prices for raw materials, packaging and other services. They can be helpful for you when developing formulas to ensure that you are meeting cost constraints. They will also help guide you to find significant cost savings by suggesting alternative materials at lower prices.
This department is sometimes part of R&D or other times part of the Legal department. These are the people who are supposed to keep up with world wide regulations and help ensure that you are not using raw materials that are inappropriate for your market. Many times a cosmetic chemist can see the Regulatory department as obstructionist because they are good at telling you what you can’t use. However, the job of the Regulatory department is to keep you company out of trouble so they should be looked at as beneficial.
The Legal department is where all the corporate lawyers are. For an R&D person they will help you file patents and may be involved in approving any of your out-of-the-company official communications. They may ask you for help in determining whether a patent is violated or whether some company’s product infringes on your company’s IP.
The people that make the final product are the Production group. You will usually be called upon to help them make the first batch and to observe the process. They will also come up with ideas on how to make the batches faster. This could lead to some stability testing that you’ll have to do. If you don’t have a Process Engineering group, you will also be called by the Production people when a batch did not come out right and they’ll look to you to fix it.
This group helps to ensure that all the tasks of a project get done in a timely manner. They will typically lead weekly project meetings that will include representatives from all the different departments. As an R&D person you may spend a lot of time in project update meetings.
When the company needs some public relations they call on the Corporate Communications group. This group may in turn call on you to go on trips visiting magazine editors in New York or other places around the country / world.
When you have questions about your job, the HR department is the one who should have answers. They can be a big benefit to you but remember that while the HR people seem to be working for you, they are really working for the corporation. Don’t ever give out information about yourself that could be detrimental to your career in the future. Remember talking to HR is the same as talking to the entire corporation.
This is the department responsible for keeping track of the company’s income and expenses. When you have to file expense reports for trips or courses, these ultimately get sent to the Finance department. So, sometimes you may have to work with them to validate your company expenses. You may also have to provide them formula costing information. Mostly, your interaction with this department will be limited.
The computer department who ensure that your system is up and running without a hitch. Of course, there are lots of hitches and hopefully, you’ve got an IT department that can handle them. Just don’t expect them to be experts at the software you use. They usually aren’t.
When something breaks in the lab, the maintenance guys are the ones who will fix it. Be nice to them and you’ll get things fixed more quickly.
One big happy corporation
There are probably many other departments we didn’t list but this covers the majority of groups you’ll have to interact with. While it may sometimes seems like a battle between departments, you need to remember that you all have the same goal, grow the company. You may have different ideas on how to do that but if you focus on the final goal, you can get things done. As a cosmetic chemist in a corporation, you’ll want to develop a reputation as someone who is easy to work with and knows what’s going on. To do this, you’ll need to think about the other departments and how you can best help them achieve their goals.
Are there any departments that we missed? Leave a comment below