For Eduardo Torres, collaboration is how innovation thrives. Pulling from a multitude of disciplines and utilizing different approaches, Eduardo sees the impact of cross-functional skills coming together to exceed what was thought possible.
In this week’s associate spotlight, we explore Milliken innovation through the lens of collaboration. Whether it is collaboration of different mindsets, skillsets, or disciplines like arts and science, Eduardo firmly believes in cooperation to achieve goals and solve problems.
Tell us more about your role at Milliken.
I am currently the Director of Research and Development for our silicones business for Milliken Chemical. This role allows me to create sustainable and valuable innovations for Milliken. I also have a hand in developing our associates’ career paths and in creating our innovation strategy for the division.
How does research underpin innovation at Milliken?
Research happens throughout the entire innovation process, as it is used to identify, and then solve, problems we face. In essence, research is used to find the pathways needed to achieve a successful outcome. Research plays a vital role in both our scientific and business areas of Milliken.
How does collaboration among various divisions play into your position?
Cross-division directors lead our community of innovators. Even though associates may work for the chemical division or the floor covering division, there is still that connection and collaboration between all areas of Milliken. Having cross-functional directors helps to foster the strengths of each division, as we look to leverage their work for the good of the entire company.
Over the course of your career, what have you learned about cross-functional collaboration?
Innovation is about diversity – diversity of experience, diversity of talent, diversity of thought process. In creating diverse teams of people, we are encouraging a well-rounded viewpoint when addressing a problem or scenario.
It is easy to think only of the technological side of innovation, but innovation goes beyond that one area. Innovation requires a highly cross-functional team to develop a concept for a valuable product, and the collaboration amongst those of different skills and mindsets is critical for a successful innovation. A good team will consist of scientists, engineers, sales and marketing professionals, with significant support from leadership.
Research can be seen as a collaboration between science and creativity. How important are those two elements in your work?
We are constantly looking for ways to add value. In order to do so, we need to have a firm understanding of what is possible and what is known – simply put, the science of a problem. Then we look at how we can solve the problem and push the boundaries of what is possible and known, through creative approaches and thinking. Research usually produces its best results when a person or a team has a good understanding of science and can apply creative ideas or solutions to a given situation.
Why do you feel STEAM learning in schools is so important?
STEAM exposes our future innovators to different mindsets and ideas. In my opinion, the best innovators are those who are willing to accept and adapt to constant change. The ability to be open-minded is an important quality, and arts education is a key way to develop this skill. Using both sides of your brain in your everyday life can be an important advantage for the next generation, if we help to nurture and encourage this opportunity from the start.
Looking for a position that encourages diversity of thought and action in the pursuit of innovation? Visit our careers page to explore open positions within our globally respected community of innovators.