"Our mission at RTI is to improve the human condition through our research.” – RTI’s CEO Victoria Haynes

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — RTI International’s 50th year of existence coincided with the worldwide economic crunch, but growth continued at one of the Triangle’s crown jewels, with revenues reaching a record $710 million.

For that reason and others, RTI Chief Executive Officer Victoria Haynes received the “Businessperson of the Year” award for 2008 from the Triangle Business Journal. The Skinny salutes the choice.

While a nonprofit, RTI truly is a research-and-development juggernaut. It also is spinning off new ventures as for-profit entities with a strong presence in semiconductor-related technology. RTI also is a job creator, adding some 200 this year, the Journal reports.

now employs some 3,800 people worldwide. It continues to add new facilities at a growing RTP campus. And Haynes is the driving force. More than 2,200 people work at RTI’s complex, which covers 180 acres. It also maintains eight U.S. offices and six overseas plus two subsidiaries.

“I believe that we are on track to become one of the world’s leading independent, nonprofit research organizations,” she said in a 2005 interview.

Mission accomplished.

RTI revenues have grown more than $200 million over the last four years as it corrals contracts and grants for life-science and high-tech research. While dollars are important and pay the bills, Haynes insists RTI’s primary motivation is simply to improve life as we know it.

"Our mission at RTI is to improve the human condition through our research," Haynes told me in 2005 in an interview for Raleigh Metro Magazine, when she was named a member of its “Who’s Who” list for that year.

"Accomplishing that mission requires us to attract and retain world-class scientists and provide them with modern research tools and facilities, all of which requires more resources than we will be able to generate through contract research fees alone,” she added.

"Through our research over many years, RTI scientists have developed a number of potentially valuable technologies and other intellectual properties, including Taxol, one of the most widely used anti-cancer drugs in the world. In recent years, we have developed processes to carry those discoveries from the lab to commercial products – first to see the fruits of our research and secondly to enjoy the accompanying financial benefits."

Haynes, who earned a doctorate in chemistry at Boston University, honed her executive skills in the private sector for 22 years before joining RTI. She spent 15 years at Monsanto, including being director of technology in that firm’s plastics division. And in seven years at Goodrich, she was vice president of research and development as well as chief technology officer of the advanced technology group. Haynes took over as the third CEO at RTI in 1999.

Since then, she has grown RTI to a scale few ever could have envisioned when the organization that used to be called Research Triangle Institute was established in the earliest years of the now globally known research park.

"I think it is important to note that at RTI, we do not measure our success in monetary terms, which may surprise some people," Haynes said. "And unlike publicly owned companies, we are able to invest in longer-term projects and research, so one of the most satisfying aspects of my job is watching our talented scientists and staff members begin to take some risks and seeing them grow professionally as they creatively pursue new business opportunities."

By carefully blending R&D and keen business sense to pursue technologies that have produced such ventures as Ziptronix, Nextreme Thermal and Sixis, Haynes and her executive team have turned RTI into an amazing success story.

So here’s a tip of the hat to Dr. Haynes and the entire RTI organization.