• VINSIGHTS

    Technologist - A Fascinating Career

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    When products fail to meet customer expectations, or even worse, health and safety standards, it is deeply embarrassing for retailers and can be costly. It erodes consumer trust and can directly impact profitability through compensation, reduced sales, legal costs, fines and eroded share prices. It is no surprise that product technologists, the people who preempt these disasters, are sought after. While there are labs that specialise in product testing, many retailers consider it too important to outsource and employ product technologists directly.

    What does the product technology team do?

    Working on a critical path product technologists are responsible for ensuring all aspects of compliance and quality assurance have been passed before a product makes it onto the shelf. To reduce the likelihood of delays in getting products to the consumer, the product technology team will work closely with the buying team during the sourcing process and then alongside the merchandising team as the product approaches launch.

    Key responsibilities for technologists include:

    • legal compliance – for example ensuring products don’t contain banned substances and conform to health and safety standards;
    • compliance with company CSR and ethical policies – such as avoiding use of child labour;
    • production capability – ensuring that the supplier is able to deliver the required volume of product to a consistently high standard
    • product durability – putting the product through trial wear programmes

    Roles often involve working across the business, ensuring that products do not make it to market before they have been thoroughly and vetted. This can be a cause of frustration for the buying and merchandising teams meaning that product technologists need to be hands on and have the confidence and gravitas to stick to their timelines.

     

    Product Technology careers

    Typically product technologists will come from a scientific background before specialising in specific sectors such as hard goods including furniture, kitchenware, outdoor goods, home including dining; electrical goods including microwave, lamps, fans and white goods etc. The career path for technologists is quite consistent across sectors, with specific sector knowledge becoming less important in more senior roles.

    Junior / Assistant / Trainee Product Technologist 

    Entry level positions in product technology will involve a lot of process focused activities including spreadsheet work, chasing certificates and following up with factories. Salaries are typically up to £25,000

    Product Technologists 

    Product technologists take ownership for their product area and manage the assistant technologists. Involved in all areas from product sourcing to ultimately ensuring the product is thoroughly tested by launch is their responsibility. Product technologists will often be required to travel to factories and become involved in negotiations with suppliers. Salaries are typically up to £50,000

    Senior Technologists 

    Senior technologists will be responsible for overseeing quality assurance in a number of product areas and ensuring that the processes, systems and skills are in place to deliver this. Salaries are typically £60,000 to £80,000

    Head of Technology 

    The most senior roles ensure a strategic approach to and from product technology. The role will see them working across the business to ensure that quality insurance is emedded into other teams systems and that the function is fit for purpose. Salaries are typically in excess of £100,000

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