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Training Lead, Analytical Research and Development, Pfizer UK

From helping him move into the training role he loves, to being there for him when his mum got cancer, Mark explains why he loves working at Pfizer.

"Ten years ago, out of the blue whilst I was at work, I got a phone call from my mum, saying she had been diagnosed with cancer. I just froze – and was in complete shock. My supervisor who sat next to me noticed something was wrong. I kept saying, "I just need to get this work finished." But he said, "No, you don't have to get anything done – go home".

Pfizer gave me paid leave to go to check-ups and appointments with my mum. I was also moved onto more flexible hours – so I could work at times that suited our needs right then. It meant I could really be there for her, through her operation and all of her radiotherapy treatment. My teammates also picked up work and helped reschedule projects. They even sent my mum some flowers. To top it all, Pfizer put me in touch with a mental health mentor, to help support me, and make sure I wasn’t overloading myself."

"No other company could have worked harder to support my personal happiness, my wellbeing, or my development."

"I’ve gained so much from my time here."
"I've got so much to thank Pfizer for. Not least on a personal level. The woman that trained me when I first arrived, I fell in love with and married. And the fact that I've been best man for three of my friends at Pfizer shows what a friendly, warm place it is to work.

I love people, and I love working closely with them, one-to-one. Pfizer saw that, and helped me to carve out a new role that perfectly matched my skills and inclinations. They helped me transition from working directly as a scientist with the Drug Product Group, into a role as Training Lead for Analytical Research and Development - a global department of over 300 people. I get to work with every new key scientist that joins us, introducing them to our labs, and the vital MHRA* regulations. Nothing could suit me better."

"Supporting the next generation"
"Another aspect of working at Pfizer that I love is the chance to get involved in inspiring the next generation. A few years ago, a young woman I didn't recognise came up to me at my desk at work, and said "Hello Mark." Turns out, she had done work experience with me in the labs at Pfizer, and had loved it so much that she changed her GCSE subjects to be more science based, went on to study sciences at a higher level and then got a job at Pfizer!

I also feel really proud of working with our industrial placement students, who have taken their third year out of university to work with us. I worked with one young student to generate a project for her final year. I hadn’t been working directly in the lab for a while then, but together we managed to put it all together! When her results came out, she rang me to tell me she'd got a first. She was crying – and I was crying too!"

* Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency

Meet Stephanie

Graduate Trainee, Pfizer UK

From helping drive through initiatives to close the gender pay gap, to getting involved in the One Young World summit, Steph's making the most of the many opportunities Pfizer has to offer a new graduate.

"When I heard that there was a new initiative to close the gender pay gap here at Pfizer, I asked if I could get involved in helping make it happen. There are five different work streams in place to drive action. I helped evolve the recruitment diversity initiative which is looking to ensure we are hiring talent from the widest possible sector of the community – including attracting more women at every level.  

We worked closely with the Talent Acquisition team in HR to look at every stage of the recruitment process, highlighting where we could add more gender balance and evolving our processes to make change happen. Next, we scripted, shot and edited a video explaining our new ways of working from more diverse interview panels, to gender-neutral language in attraction materials. Finally, we shared the film with every one of our hiring managers. From some words from our UK MD, to a filmed Q&A session with the Head of Talent Acquisition, the video really helped showcase the new process."

"There are so many opportunities to learn, to get involved, to have an impact."

"I helped facilitate some awesome conversations."
"My first year as a graduate was spent working in Marketing in the area of Inflammation and Immunology. My favourite project was working on a big event bringing together health professionals who might not normally get to hear from each other - from across the fields of rheumatology and gastroenterology.  

I was given lots of ownership to help plan and run it. We had amazing speakers and chairs who encouraged some awesome conversations, with everyone from doctors and nurses to physios learning from each other.  

I also got to volunteer at the One Young World summit in London, using two of my five volunteering days. There, more than 2,000 young leaders came together from 190 countries, to discuss their work on tackling some of the key challenges the world faces. To hear these 16-25 year olds share the ways they are bringing about real change in areas from climate change to human trafficking was very inspiring."

"There's incredible L&D here."
"I've got my own external learning coach, and I've done all sorts of courses on everything from presentation skills to networking. I also have a mentor who is a senior leader in the business – but working in a completely different part of Pfizer so can offer great experience and objective advice.   

In such a big company, with such global reach, there are just so many people to learn from. Even just waiting in the coffee queue in the café at work, you can get talking to someone who's doing something completely different to you – working on a breakthrough cancer treatment, or sorting out the finances for launching a major drug trial. It's so interesting."
Meet Tom

Senior Policy and Public Affairs Manager, Pfizer UK

Since arriving at Pfizer, Tom's been impressed both with the company's support for volunteering and its support for bold ideas.

"When it comes to supporting volunteering, Pfizer really does mean business. We’re actively encouraged to use the five paid volunteering days a year that every employee is granted.  

Outside of work, I'm a trained Samaritans listening volunteer. These five extra days have meant I can put in more hours on the phone, listening to people that need to be heard. What’s more, because I can use my volunteer days in the week during normal office hours, I get the opportunity to do outreach work with schools, too. It’s the chance to talk to younger people, and try to encourage them to open up about topics which might be taboo to discuss in their everyday life – like mental health."

"A time of innovation and change."
"Since I've joined, it's been a time of big change. Internally, the company is moving more and more towards a focus on R&D and innovation – putting breakthroughs that change patients' lives at its core. And of course, nationally, we've had two seismic events – Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic. So it’s been a hugely busy time.

I was very impressed by Pfizer's response to Coronavirus, and the way a coherent 5-point plan was so swiftly developed. In a rapidly evolving situation, we moved fast to make sure we could optimise our scientific expertise, our people and our infrastructure to provide the greatest amount of help in the fight against the virus.

I’m especially proud that during the COVID-19 outbreak, we gave all our medically trained colleagues in the UK the opportunity to go back and volunteer in the NHS for 12 weeks - supported completely by Pfizer."

"A culture of bold thinking"
"Being involved in a collaborative project between Pfizer and Demos to create a report on the societal impact of cancer has been a highlight for me. The report explores the ripple effect cancer has - on families, on people's careers, on mental health, on employers and on the economy.   

It gives a much broader perspective on the effects cancer can have above and beyond the consequences for someone’s health. I’m proud that as well as developing vital new oncology treatments, Pfizer is also working to lead the conversation on how families can be supported through their journey with cancer.   

This speaks to Pfizer's culture right now – to be bold.  It’s easy not to put yourself out there or try to innovate – through fear of inviting criticism. However, here at Pfizer, we're encouraged to be courageous and run with new ideas."

Meet Nicola

Senior Finance Business Partner, Pfizer UK

From supporting R&D clinical trials, to teaching the Brownies about medicine development, Nicola talks about her varied 20-year career in finance at Pfizer.

"As part of our STEM outreach programme, I recently ran Pfizer's "Medicines and Me" session with 20 Rainbows and 30 Brownies. It's all about helping get kids excited by science – and with this group, engaging and inspiring the next generation of girls. I've been very moved by all the positive feedback from the children. In particular, they're very intrigued about the cure they created for the dreaded 'Magenta Lumpy' disease, a condition we invented for the purpose of these sessions.  

They learnt so much about how hard it can be to discover a new medicine, the difficulties of scaling up production, and how to ensure that a medicine is 100% consistent every time you make it. To help with this, they each made a helping of slime, to which they added food colouring – the 'active ingredient'. Then we asked them to make up several batches of the cure that were all exactly the same colour. They also loved covering their hands in glitter to represent bacteria and viruses, so I could teach them about effective hand washing – a very important skill in the current situation with COVID-19."

(You can explore the "Medicines and Me" course here.)

"Whatever their job title, everybody's work is focused on trying to get the right treatment to the right patient at the right time." 

"Every day's a school day at Pfizer!"
"I've worked at Pfizer for over twenty years – but I'm still learning all the time. In the beginning, they supported me to complete all my professional financial qualifications. I've spent much of my career as a Finance Business Partner, but because I've been working with a range of different departments, including Commercial teams, Legal, R&D and HR, there’s been huge variety. It's like having many different careers in one. (Especially as I've also got to work with colleagues in the US and across Europe.)

I feel that we're more than management accountants – we're strategic partners who help to use resources in the best way. For example, when I was working with R&D, we helped move an entire lab from France to the UK. We managed capital budgets in a way that meant the clinical trials could remain completely uninterrupted. By organising a 'just-in-time' approach to moving and procuring new equipment, the researchers always had what they needed the moment they needed it – but we kept in budget."

 "Everybody here is focused on doing the right thing."
"Whatever their job title, everybody's work is focused on trying to get the right treatment to the right patient at the right time. Working in finance, one of the most satisfying aspects of the job is to be able to help get medicines and vaccines out to people faster. Collaborating with other organisations to break down barriers and modify processes to speed everything up is very satisfying.

Pfizer's focused on doing the right thing for its people, too. There's a great culture. People genuinely try to have fun at work. It's brilliant to be surrounded by such talented minds, and there's a real interest here in developing colleagues. There's also good parental leave, and good support when you return. If you want to come back in a part-time role, this is never limiting. Because Pfizer is a sizeable company, and it has the HR policies in place to make it happen, there's a good range of part-time opportunities for parent returners."

Meet Mathew

Commercial Graduate Trainee, Pfizer UK

Since Mathew joined Pfizer as a graduate, he's been impressed by the flexible work culture, and the way wellbeing is taken so seriously.

"There's a real culture of trust at Pfizer. No-one's looking over your shoulder. You can go to the gym at lunchtime, or phone the bank to sort out an urgent query, without worrying that anyone's questioning where you are or what you're doing.  

Fitness is really important to me. So to have an on-site gym here at the Walton Oaks site, and a culture that means you can use it during the workday without feeling guilty is really important. In fact, all the facilities are great. We have a meditation room, weekly yoga classes, and a nice restaurant. It all makes for a low-stress environment. Going into work’s a genuine pleasure. Everyone is very serious about the important work we do. But no-one takes themselves too seriously."

"Although Pfizer's a big company, it doesn't feel like it. You are treated as an individual. You're trusted." 

"An amazing graduate programme"
"I enrolled on the 2018 Pfizer Future Leadership programme to complete two 12-month rotations in marketing and sales. In my first year, I was allowed to take the lead in planning for the congresses my brand was attending. I worked with our agency to prepare exhibition stands and other materials that would present all the latest data in the most compelling way.  

It’s pretty cool to be at a congress, and to see the stand that you helped plan and create being built – and to watch customers interacting with it. Now I’m working in sales. We don't have arbitrary targets. No manager here ever mentions call rate. It's about building relationships – and long term-planning. I have the autonomy to decide what's a priority and who it’s important for me to see. There’s no box ticking or doing things for the sake of it."

"You get a lot of attention from senior people."
"As a graduate, you have a mentor, who's a senior leader in another area of the business. You also have a graduate buddy. This is great, as they've just been through the same programme you have and can offer really useful advice. In my case, my buddy actually did my exact job before me.  

You also get your own training coach. It's a big bonus. You have five days with them in your first year. The idea is that they help you transition from being a student to the world of work. The coaches are external – completely separate from Pfizer and even from the world of pharma. It's real one-on-one attention. Pfizer really takes care of you."
Meet Lisa-Ann

Senior Manager, Safety Solutions, Pfizer UK

Lisa-Ann explains the role effective pharmaceuticals played in helping her own son when he was dangerously ill and the vital part she plays in getting new treatments to the patients that need them.

"Not long after I joined Pfizer, I was going on holiday with my parents and my two small boys. We were so excited when we set off from Heathrow, but during the flight my youngest boy – who was just one and a bit at the time – became very ill. He was struggling to breathe, clutching at the air with his hands and starting to turn blue. We went straight from landing to the trauma unit at the hospital – where he got worse, and his blood oxygen level fell below 80.

The Consultant then said he was going to try him on two drugs - an anti-inflammatory and an antibiotic. To my huge relief, he rapidly got better. But the experience changed the way I saw my work. All over the world, there will be people who will be in situations like I was with my son. In that moment, they could be relying on me – on the work I have done – to help them when they are very ill. It gives you a feeling of pride that cannot be bought with money."

"I do my job because in a life-changing moment, someone will be relying on me, on the work I have done, to help them."

"My professional progression has been something of a fairy-tale!"
"I started off as a contractor at Pfizer in 2014. After a year, I was taken on in a permanent role as a Drug Safety Officer, and then in 2016 became a Senior Drug Safety Officer. After coming back from maternity leave, I was then promoted again to be a Manager in the Drug Safety Group, and then a Senior Manager in Safety Solutions. If you put in the work, you will be rewarded here.

There are so many opportunities to develop, from going on secondments in other departments, to studying a wide range of online Harvard courses. You can learn so much, and try out so many different roles, without having to move company once. Join Pfizer, and they will help you find out what you want to do in life."

"I'm really proud of our team's work to bring new treatments to market – and to the patients who really need them."
"Before we can get a new treatment to patients, we have to apply for a licence from a number of different regulatory bodies around the world. These bodies go through every shred of evidence from the trials, and can visit any clinical site that's been involved in a medicine’s development to inspect them – with or without notice.

During this process, we're the spokespeople for the whole of Pfizer – making sure that our evidence is meticulously presented. It’s a hectic time – as we manage working in different time zones with different regulators. As we worked to get approval for the treatment, I travelled to Spain, the States and Germany in the space of just three weeks, whilst my colleagues went as far afield as China and South Africa. But there’s no greater satisfaction than seeing a medicine in a hospital or high-street pharmacy and thinking – 'I was part of the team that got it here'."
PP-UNP-GBR-3495 / January 2023
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