In the last decade, the Indian IT industry has witnessed a rapid growth in the product engineering segment. It is also called as the research and development (R&D) ecosystem, which entails coming up with new ideas and building a commodity. A huge part of this development is setting up strong product design houses by both, multinational companies(MNC) and domestic ones, thereby creating a new set of opportunities for the engineering talent in the country.
In 2017, hiring in R&D sector increased by over 29%, as per a study of HR trends. That’s not all; with the availability of a large talent pool and increasing maturity of the Indian IT industry, the R&D scenario is today poised to go up the value chain in terms of innovation of solutions which form part of the current industry trends.
Who can apply?
The basic educational requirements for freshers seeking a career in R&D are a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in technology or engineering with a curious mindset. A PhD is a must for specific research fellow positions. It is a good idea for experienced engineers to showcase their patents, technical papers published in industry journals such as IEEE, contributions to open source and participation in industry standards or specifications on their CV. It would also help to do some thesis work in a corporate environment by solving industry-related problems.
Once absorbed into the R&D field, the work environment will typically consist of excellent, state-of-the-art lab infrastructure when compared to other forms of engineering. Engineers can expect a lot of excitement and learning as R&D deals with futuristic products and solutions by solving customer problems or creating something new for the first time. The profession demands patience as every idea or concept does not necessarily get into the product roadmap and implementation due to various business reasons. Hence, the initial ideation with attention to detail and clarity of customer problem, apart from the analysis of business potential, expertise and hold on technology are very critical to the entire process of designing a product. Also, like any other profession, timing is important and has much more significance in R&D as it has a direct bearing on the success of the product. It is equally important for the product engineer to participate in sunsetting the commodity and accepting the fact that every product has a life cycle.
A unique differentiation in this field is that the product engineer is bound to get the exposure of the complete development cycle of a new product — right from ideation to productisation, acceptance or rejection of the product by customers, recognition via industry awards and then closing the loop with feedback from the field for future enhancements and improvements.
R&D today has taken a giant leap in the right direction, providing career progression both in the technical and managerial ladder. The industry offers a wide range of growth opportunities at various levels in the technology ladder such as technical consultant, principal engineer, systems architect, distinguished engineer, etc. This enables technology-focused engineers to go in-depth into the domain, be in touch with the latest technology, be able to contribute to the industry standard specifications, and build subject matter expertise in a chosen domain. On the other hand, for those looking for a good blend of technical and managerial skills as part of the ‘techno-managerial’ role, R&D is a suitable option. The management growth path consists of roles such as engineering managers, technical managers, directors or vice presidents.
Additionally, the profession provides ample opportunity to work with a wide range of cross-functional teams involved in all aspects of the product or solution. This offers well-rounded exposure for engineers to learn the different work cultures and styles, collaborative engagement and diversified skills as these teams are located in diverse geographies.
The icing on the cake is that unlike other fields, R&D provides a great sense of technology ownership of a product or solution for the engineer.
(The author is with Dell EMC