Research Associate 3 –Operational Excellence Lead

Apply to this position
Job Title: Research Associate 3 –Operational Excellence Lead
Location: Clinton, USA

Company: Syngenta
Industry Sector: Agribusiness
Industry Type: Plant & Soil Sciences, Seed & Biotechnology
Career Type: General
Job Type: Full Time

Job Description:

We invite you to help us shape the future of agriculture. At Syngenta, we believe every employee has a role to play in safely feeding the world and taking care of our planet. To support that challenge, the Seeds Development Operations team is currently seeking an Research Associate 3 in Clinton, IL.

Role Purpose

The purpose of the Research Associate is to provide leadership in the execution of corn nursery seed production, strictly follow HSE and Stewardship practices, provide quality seed meeting quantity and timeline targets to assist team leaders and scientists in delivering project goals, as well as to support site management with the functional activities of a research station.


  • Functioning as a leading member of a team leading aspects of packaging, planting, note taking and harvesting in seed production nurseries.
  • Responsible for efforts to maintain integrity of seed inventory, packaging, field layout, pollinating, seed processing, and data collection.
  • Performing all tasks and behaving in a manner compliant with and in support of all safety and stewardship related company policies and practices, including completing all required company training courses.
  • Leading and planning tasks completed by other FTE staff and third-party contract labor to achieve desired results.
  • Provide daily direction to contract staff
  • Provide task specific training to FTEs and contract staff
  • Leading complex projects and deliver on key targets across sites.
  • Understand and operate within given budget
  • Effectively communicating regularly with peers and supervisors regarding the status of projects and work activities.
  • Acting as a Subject Matter Expert in continuous improvement, engaging and working in partnership with all levels of the factory operations teams
  • Drive the Continuous Improvement culture, with Lean six sigma methodology, or TPS toolbox and related CI methodologies, to bring about sustained improvements
  • Drive a Continuous Improvement culture with pace and impact on sustainable profitable growth through the application of Lean / Continuous methodology
  • Challenging existing processes in manufacturing to generate improvements
  • Being able to paint the vision of "what good looks like "when working with others to build engagement and achieve quick wins though line balancing initiatives
  • Be able to deliver appropriate training and to coach others in Continuous Improvement methodology within operations, allowing for the deployment of Continuous Improvement methodology
  • Build, develop and inspire a team with a culture of continuous improvement
  • Evaluate waste, scrap across Manufacturing, and implement robust improvement processes
  • Manage project teams in the practical implementation of CI techniques to reduce waste and deliver savings
  • Develop standardized approach to identify opportunities and a plan of action to deliver results.
  • Lead change towards operational excellence and support continual improvements of systems, processes, and products
  • Assess the effectiveness of all operational activities on site using specific analytical tools (eg. Kaizen, Six Sigma, DMAIC etc.) to generate proposals for waste-reduction & improvement initiatives
  • Support multi-disciplinary teams to understand Lean principles, map processes and identify wastes
  • Achievement of agreed Lean training programs
  • Coaching improvement teams to deliver sustainable results, helping to support the development of their CI and TPM capability
  • Play a key role in driving safety, quality, service, and cost performance
  • Lead and co-ordinate the continuous improvement approach in your area of the factory
  • Excellent communication skills are essential, as well as an ability to inspire and motivate people
  • Other activities as assigned



  • Bachelor's Degree Industrial Technology, Agriculture Business, Manufacturing, Engineering, Automation, or other technology with good understanding of high throughput manufacturing, automation, imaging, and team supervision.
  • Basic understanding of seed packaging (Operations) processes and sufficient knowledge to identify the critical issues and engage effectively with people to solve problems.
  • Basic knowledge of Seed Development functions, seed production and a general understanding of how to interface with those functions. 
  • Excellent interpersonal/communication skills are required for fostering teamwork, enhancing a good working environment, and effectively developing strong working relationships with a diverse group of people.
  • Ability to travel overnight on occasion. High workload with long hours and weekend work during seasonal peaks. Limited travel within region.
  • The ideally candidate would have an HNC/ Degree in Engineering, Scientific or Manufacturing or related subject or has gone through a recognized Lean/6 Sigma training route
  • Excellent organization and computer skills. 
  • Strong leadership skills 
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, especially those required to successfully function as part of a cross-functional team. 
  • Ability to understand and communicate complex instructions.
  • Experience in process improvement, automation, LEAN/Six Sigma, 5S, and imaging
  • Strong communicator with ability to influence, build consensus and gain support.
  • Demonstrated decision making & problem-solving capabilities in the face of conflicting priorities and ambiguity
  • High level knowledge of World Class Safety, Quality, Service, Cost
  • Continuous improvement techniques
  • Proven ability to improve performance through change
  • Practical working knowledge of Lean and ideally Six Sigma
  • Training in CI methodology
  • Project Management experience
  • Able to apply Lean / Continuous Improvement methodologies
  • Proven experience of leading CI and change within a Fast-Moving Consumer Goods or fast paced manufacturing environment
  • Lean tools and techniques training including Value Stream Mapping
  • Coaching , Training, and facilitation Skills
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to communicate and influence at all levels to be able to sell principles and ways of working changes
  • Able to motivate and develop a team where initiative, collaboration and respect are key
  • Understanding of Processing Theories/Processing Plant/Machine Knowledge
  • Coaching and mentoring skills

Physical Demands of the Essential Functions: 

Capable of working in high or low temperature conditions in field or greenhouse.  Capable of lifting up to 50 pounds.  Capable of working long hours during time-critical periods of the growing season

 Working Conditions While Performing Essential Functions: 

Field, laboratory, office.  Domestic and international travel required with occasional overnight stays. Stays at off-season production/nursery locations may extend to two to three weeks.  Potential allergens pollen, fungal spores, chemical pesticides in the field or greenhouse.


Seasonal travel to off station testing locations, project meetings.  Domestic and international travel required with seasonal overnight stays.

Additional Information

What We Offer: 

  • Full Benefit Package (Medical, Dental & Vision) that starts the same day you do 401k plan with company match, Profit Sharing & Retirement Savings Contribution 
  • Open Vacation Policy with a minimum of 15 days of vacation and up to 30 days with manager approval, 9 Paid Holidays 
  • Maternity and Paternity Leave, Education Assistance, Wellness Programs, Corporate Discounts among others 
  • A culture that promotes work/life balance, celebrates diversity, and offers numerous family-oriented events throughout the year 

Syngenta is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate in recruitment, hiring, training, promotion or any other employment practices for reasons of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, sexual orientation, marital or veteran status, disability, or any other legally protected status. 

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)  


Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) 


Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) 



Company Description

Syngenta is a global leader in agriculture; rooted in science and dedicated to bringing plant potential to life. Each of our 28,000 employees in more than 90 countries work together to solve one of humanity's most pressing challenges: growing more food with fewer resources. A diverse workforce and an inclusive workplace environment are enablers of our ambition to be the most collaborative and trusted team in agriculture. Our employees reflect the diversity of our customers, the markets where we operate and the communities which we serve. No matter what your position, you will have a vital role in safely feeding the world and taking care of our planet. Join us and help shape the future of agriculture.  

To apply please click on APPLY TO THIS POSITION

Job Post Date: 03/07/23
Here are some other jobs you may be interested in applying for.
Want notifications for new jobs like this? Provide your information below to setup an alert.

Grow your career on

Advanced Search See All Jobs
Red Alert

Register for your free account to receive exclusive information and features.

Candidate | Employer