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Research and Development

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Shaping tomorrow’s world

With seven research centers worldwide, more than 8,000 technologists, and an annual investment of $1.5bn, our R&D efforts ensure that our products and services are among the best in the world.

Our R&D engineers and scientists develop breakthrough technologies that change the way the world works and industries do business. We constantly push the limits of convention, but our focus is always on delivering solid returns for our customers and shareholders.

As CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer says: “Technology innovation is the lifeblood of ABB and, as such, R&D is a critical strategic resource for the Group.”

We concentrate on two areas: short-term evolutionary innovations to existing products and services and long-term disruptive innovations crucial to maintaining and strengthening our position as a leader in innovation as well as supporting future growth.

In our seven research centers, we focus on the nine areas that match ABB's core technologies: communications, control, electromagnetics, materials, mechanics, power electronics, sensors, software and switching.

Experts in our labs work on specific projects with technologists in the business units, concentrating on applying research findings. Where successful, product or technology development continues in the business units.

To ensure we are flexible and results-driven, our global research centers and our business units are integrated with leading universities around the world and our other external partners in a fully networked environment.

Why ABB for Research and Development?

Working on the latest technologies with world-class engineers and scientists all over the world gives you the chance to shape the future of power and productivity and to create a better world.

Whether you specialize in Research, Product Development, Project Management or other disciplines, you will find practically unlimited opportunities to broaden your experience and take your career to the next level.

Many of our R&D specialists also pursue academic careers, lecturing or working as professors at universities, publishing research and attending conferences, while actively contributing their theoretical expertise to our projects. Master’s students join us to work on theses, and there are openings for PhD students in many areas.

In addition, to ensure that we all stay up to date with the latest technologies, we maintain strong relations with leading academic institutions, through regular study visits and lectures. Finally, as we serve customers in more than 100 countries around the world, there are many possibilities to work internationally, both in our research centers and in our business units.

The exceptional people you work with, the unique projects you tackle and the global scale of our business will give you the skills and experience you need to take your career to the next level.

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Career paths and development

There are three main career paths in R&D. We encourage you to move between them as your interests and expectations evolve, exploring the many opportunities on offer.

Technical stream

Working on global projects and sharing knowledge with technical experts in universities and partner organizations, our R&D engineers and scientists have many opportunities to deepen their knowledge and to become global experts in their fields.

At the entry level, you participate in product development or research projects alongside senior experts, contributing with your theoretical knowledge and creative ideas. As you build your understanding of our products and solutions, you will develop your ability to apply your expertise, working with leading professionals across the business to challenge the conventional.

At the forefront of their technology domain, our senior technical experts contribute internationally, both internally and externally, guiding what we do and driving our processes. They share their expertise proactively and widely with younger engineers or scientists, graduates and higher management.

Project management

In our company R&D is mostly project-based; however, our projects differ from those elsewhere in our organization, due to the increased uncertainty of outcome and timing, making them challenging to plan.

Junior project members learn how our procedures and processes work before moving on to manage small local projects, gradually building up to large, global assignments as they become more senior. With mentoring from senior peers and regular on- and off-the-job training along the way, they develop commercial acumen, learning how to best support the business.

The breadth of what we do means there are opportunities for project managers to focus on a wide variety of technical areas and work across different industries and countries.

Management stream

Management opportunities in R&D are international, diverse and challenging.

Entry-level managers lead multidisciplinary teams either in our research centers or within specific business units to create new solutions for customer needs. They are responsible to ensure that projects are delivered on time and on budget.

Middle managers focus on developing new expertise through research partnerships and recruitment. They work increasingly internationally, and collaboration facilitation is a key area of their responsibility.

As internationally recognized leaders and contributors in their fields, our senior managers focus their competence and expertise on global strategic roles within the organization.

Professional qualifications

We depend on your growth and development because the more you make of your talent, the better we do as a company. So, in addition to the personalized development plans that we agree on with all our employees, we also support you if you wish to obtain certain professional qualifications.

As long as there is a clear business need, we help you prepare for external certification programs with leading bodies.

Alternative career opportunities

Career flexibility is a key ABB principle. We always try to support you when your interests and priorities change, helping you move between countries, divisions, business units and functions. It is one of the main advantages of working for a truly global business with a very broad portfolio of products and services.

Depending on your experience and skills, there would be opportunities in such areas as engineering, project and product management, manufacturing, quality and operational excellence, sales and service.

What we look for

Research and Development profile

Most R&D jobs require a degree in one of our core technologies, generally a PhD in research centers, but requirements vary for roles at different levels. Please see specific job postings for details. Additionally, we look for:
  • Ability to innovate and apply new solutions to create competitive advantage for our company and our customers.
  • Ability to see the bigger picture: apply, combine and improve suggested solutions to provide best possible results.
  • Ability to work in a systematic and structured way, improving processes and documenting achievements.
  • Strong communicators, written and verbal; active listeners who take into account different perspectives, always advocating the best solution, irrespective of who generated original idea.
  • Active networkers who can develop extensive relations within the global community, externally and internally.
  • Ability to stay up to date with new market trends and ensure that our technologies are appropriately safeguarded.

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