Philip, 50, works for Rheem Australia as a project manager in new product development, in the research and development department (R&D). He has worked for Rheem for three years. Rheem’s new product development focus is all about renewable energy and high efficiency products, so he has the advantage of feeling that his work has the potential to affect the way people live and, at the same time, contribute to a global effort to create more sustainable ways of living.
My current position is at the heart of new product development – the best place in any business. I lead various teams of people, on several new product development projects. These teams represent all the functional areas of the company including sales, marketing, research and development, product design, materials, controls and software engineering, testing, approvals, manufacturing, purchasing and finance. The project also has various specialised teams of manufacturing personnel focused on implementing the new product through the factory.
Rheem is an unusual place for an industrial designer because there has traditionally been little industrial design input. However, there are now two industrial designers here and they are both in project management. I work from the research and development department with mechanical, electrical and materials engineers, several scientists, test technicians and prototype workshop tradesmen. The development of new products is done using the usual digital tools, however not much emphasis is placed on styling or presentation.
The focus of Rheem’s new product development is all about renewable energy and high efficiency products. I feel that my work has the potential to change things for the better, particularly as Rheem is a large-scale manufacturer and is applying huge resources in this area.
There are relatively few opportunities to develop a product you actually like – it’s mainly based on need. This can be frustrating at times.
Project managers in manufacturing generally earn between $80 000 and $140 000, depending on the industry, excluding major construction and infrastructure industries.
Product design that generates real improvement, not just change for its own sake – for example, greater energy efficiency through smarter products.
Bring a portfolio of your work that illustrates the range and depth of your skills. Choose the best example of your ability to problem solve. Do not try to show all your projects, just examples which illustrate your breadth and depth. Clearly distinguish your own work from the work that was created by a team. Do not show anything which is still confidential!
Good industrial designers feel a strong sense of ownership and responsibility for both the finished product and the project. That often means either designing out of hours, away from office distractions, or designing in the studio and doing the management paperwork at home at nightAlso, designers never stop thinking about those design problems that need resolution – at breakfast, on planes, in the shower.