British American Tobacco - Dr. David O’Reilly

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Dr. David O’Reilly

Director, Scientific Research

My career at BAT began in 1991 when I joined as a scientist at the Group’s plant biotechnology UK subsidiary, Advanced Technologies Cambridge. Previously the company had sponsored my PhD at Imperial College, London. I knew that the company had a strong culture and, as a global organisation, it offered the chance to work in countries around the world. 

A Better Tomorrow™

I am confident that our vision to create A Better Tomorrow™ will be seen in the future as the biggest inflection point, not just of our business but our entire industry. BAT will be the undisputed leader of this important evolution.

As a scientist, the opportunity to positively contribute to one of the biggest public health challenges in the world – reducing the harm caused by cigarettes – was what attracted me to BAT. The company’s commitment and passion for science appealed to me. BAT was really starting to push the boundaries of tobacco and nicotine science when I joined the company and this is still true today. I am proud to work for a company that leads the industry with its science and sees pushing boundaries as the norm. 

My role as a leader is to encourage people to look for knowledge, insight and inspiration beyond what is immediately available to them. I strongly believe in the power of collaboration and the diversity of thought – contributions often come more through different expertise and experiences, not hierarchy. Trust is incredibly important to me and I believe that by empowering the people around me, they can stretch further and reach higher to achieve their full potential, bringing great career rewards for them and future success for this great company.

It was a very proud moment for me when, in 2012, I was appointed as the Group’s first ever Scientific and R&D Director. For me this reflects BAT’s commitment to science, technology and innovation and acknowledges that these skills are vital for delivering the Group’s strategy, now and in the future.

Nationality: British

Career to date

  • 1991: Joins British American Tobacco’s plant biotechnology UK subsidiary, Advanced Technologies Cambridge, as a scientist
  • 1997: Becomes Programme Manager for Group Strategic Research, Southampton, UK
  • 2000: Takes on the role of Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, in UK head office
  • 2003: Returns to R&D, Southampton, UK as Head of Risk Characterisation
  • 2006: Takes on a new role of Programme Manager for the Global Harm Reduction Programme
  • 2007: Becomes Head of International Public Health and Scientific Affairs in UK head office
  • 2011: Returns to Southampton, UK, as Group Head of R&D
  • 2012: Appointed Group Scientific and R&D Director
  • 2019: Becomes Director, Scientific Research


  • BSc (Plant Sciences), University of Nottingham, UK
  • PhD in plant molecular virology, Imperial College, London, UK

Personal interests

I am married with four children. I am passionate about bikes – both motor and leg-powered! I try to ride my motorbike to work whenever I can as this gets me focused for the day ahead, and on weekends I’m often found out on the road putting in the training miles for my annual cycle pilgrimage to the Swiss Alps. I enjoy reading extensively and meeting new people with different experiences and ideas.