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International Women's Day 2020

March 2020

To celebrate International Women's Day 2020, we want to take the opportunity to recognise the amazing women that make Pfizer CentreOne a success- including our colleagues, partners and customers.

Over the next eight days, you'll hear from eight Pfizer CentreOne team members and the stories of the women who have shaped their careers.

You'll also hear from leaders within our business discussing what International Women's Day means to them.

Part one - AiLi Zhang, China Sales Lead, Pfizer CentreOne

What drives me as a professional?

I would describe my life and work philosophy as the philosophy of movement – no matter what, I aspire to reach forward. The three specific principles I follow are these:

Keep on learning - For me, learning never stops! Whether it’s factual learning - manufacturing operations, R&D process, market intelligence – or experiential learning, I aspire to do more of it! I learn a great deal from successes, but even more so from failures. And I love learning from my colleagues around the world.

Keep on running - It could be running or any other physical activity but staying physically strong is very important. The main benefits for me are conditioning the will power that helps me be a better professional and having the energy for life, in and outside of work.

Keep on growing - I believe each of us has unlimited potential. It’s important for me to try new activities and meet new people as they help me discover more about myself. Even though physically you might stay the same, as a person you may grow every day through new experiences.

Part two - Tom Wilson, Custom Manufacturing Lead, Pfizer CentreOne

How have you supported the advancement of women throughout your career?

I started my career at an inflection point when women just began to break through. First in the U.S. Air Force and later on the manufacturing floor, I witnessed women gaining access to roles that were previously reserved for men. It was when I realized that a significant number of talented people were never given the opportunity to do what they wanted and could do. Seeking out and helping those who are set aside has been my focus ever since. Women, people with alternative lifestyles, minorities – all those who needed the advocacy to move ahead.

To me this is not a “feel good” exercise; it’s what we need to do to ensure we have the best, most competitive talent pool to lead our company into the future.

In my experience, best learning comes from failing and correcting one’s mistakes. What I observed is that the freedom to fail is often not there for disadvantaged groups as it carries more risk. As a result, people become unwilling to pursue opportunities that feel out of reach. In the work that I do as a sponsor of the Women’s Mentoring Program here at Pfizer, we often talk about the importance of overcoming one’s fear of failure and viewing failure as growth.

Hearing from someone like me who has successfully recovered from failure and advanced in his career helps reduce anxiety. Another topic we frequently discuss is the “2/3rd-1/3rd” rule. In my experience, women are reluctant to apply for jobs where they don’t check all the boxes. My guidance is that if you check 2/3rd of the boxes, you should be good to go. The remaining 1/3rd you will learn on the job. Finally, we also address the importance of expanding one’s social network outside of the core group.

The larger the proverbial rolodex, the bigger the network one can call on in crucial moments of one’s career. The successful women (and men) I know continuously push themselves to go beyond their comfort circle, learn about people and establish new connections.

Being a mentor and supporter of equality is an important part of who I am. This is my way of investing into the future and promoting positive change, just like the change I witnessed early on in my career.

Part three - Karen Lauxmann, European Sales Lead, Pfizer CentreOne

A letter to my 2002 self

Dear younger me

I just found this picture that was taken 18 years ago at a global marketing meeting which happened – by coincidence in London, close to where I live now.

In 2002 you were an aspiring marketing colleague, working out of Germany, your home country. Ambitious to develop your career but unsure about how to do it as you had just met your husband to be and wanted to start a family. In the years to follow you will realise all of that – always trying to make things work. Will you be happy? Yes, but will you become really happy?

It’s true what they say – you grow when you are forced to change: you will experience a few drastic organisational changes that will impact you profoundly and, more importantly, some very demanding situations in your private life. You will surprise yourself that you won’t break and that you will come out of all setbacks so much stronger than before. Most importantly you will learn, that your magic power is within you. Being open and bold will make you curious, drag yourself out of your comfort zone and will make you experience the most amazing things such as the opportunity to grow into a very broad variety of completely different job roles or relocating yourself and 2 little kids to another country.

My advice to you:

Life is a roller-coaster – enjoy every moment of it. And always remember – the biggest failure is the failure of not trying.

Your 18 years older self.

Karen Lauxmann

Part four - Lei Zheng, Director, Biomed Engineering, Global Technical Services, Pfizer

What drives my success?

My name, Lei, means rock in Chinese and is typically a name chosen for boys. My father wanted a son and treated me with the same expectations he would have for a boy – to be strong and independent. I believe this is the foundation of everything I have achieved – I approached new experiences head-on, without letting fear get in the way. I don’t think of myself as a weaker sex, and I believe that I can achieve anything I want. My hobby – skydiving – is a good example of that. 

In terms of role models, I admire Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I recently watched a movie about her – “On the Basis of Sex” – and what it showed me is that a small unassuming woman can make a big difference if she believes in herself and her cause. And more than that, that self-confidence can drive positive change for other women as well. 

Part five - Jim Carr, Customer Engagement Lead, Pfizer CentreOne

Tell us about a woman who has inspired you…

My late wife has been my biggest inspiration. When I met her, I didn’t have a lot of direction in terms of my career whereas she came from a family that was very structured and naturally she was very driven. She was pursuing a Master’s degree and at the same time working at General Motors, which inspired me to do my own grad work and was a huge driver in where I am today. She definitely brought a lot of focus to my life career wise, just seeing how she approached moving forward and advancing was a huge inspiration and brought structure to myself, our kids and our family. 

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

International Women’s Day for me is a chance for the world to celebrate women. Their uniqueness. What women can and do bring to the world. It’s a good time to celebrate how far women have come in the last 100 years’ and how far society has come

What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in pharma?

Have confidence in yourself and believe that you can do anything. Focus and be more proud, open and transparent about the good things you are doing as that's how you get recognized. 

Part six - Shaun Miller, Commercial Planning & Assessment Lead, Pfizer CentreOne

What role did women play in your career at Pfizer?

I would not be where I am today had it not been for many outstanding women at Pfizer. Three women in particular have greatly shaped my career and outlook: Angela Hwang, Rachel Olderman, and Mercedes Cardenal. As I reflect on their influence and leadership, here are the common themes I see. 

  • Inclusivity. It’s one of their central values as leaders. Oftentimes I was many levels below but they treated me as equal, sought out my point of view, and truly listened to what I had to say. It was not about following the hierarchy for them; instead, it was about making the best decision and getting all the perspectives. I have no doubt they make decisions boldly, but in doing so, they actively seek out diverse perspectives.

  • Innovative mindset. In working for and alongside these women, I was continuously impressed by how open they are to new approaches. Once the problem is defined, all solutions are on the table. They encouraged me to think freely and differently and consider alternatives based on the potential pay-off, even when they fell outside of our traditional toolset. These women truly have the courage to reshape the future and make their teams feel excited about the change. 

  • Authenticity. Women in power are often held to different standards than their male counterparts, but none of these women ever lost their authenticity. Through the good, the bad, and the unknown they remained composed, fair, and true to their principles. They inspired me to be myself, too – I know that who I am and my perspective are valued at Pfizer.  

  • Empathy. This is a huge one for me. From bringing snacks to late-night office meetings to proactively helping me plan new steps in my career, these women always took interest in me. I often felt that they saw the possibilities I did not and pushed me to reach out of my safety zone. “Everything is possible” is a principle they live by and inspire others to achieve. Lifting others up and connecting with them on a human level is a true definition of empathy in my mind. 

Part seven - Shafna Zain, Commercial Contract Manufacturing Manager, Pfizer CentreOne, Melbourne, Australia

What drives my success?

For me, success means to strive for achievements beyond my goals. I’m a young woman, but I don’t let age or gender define me. As a person, I am driven, resilient, thirsty for knowledge, and passionate about helping others.  

My family has been an important influence as they continue to teach me good morals, respect, positivity in life, and pursuing my ambition. Staying focused during adversity and rising to challenges are due to their influence. Outside of my family, my main role model is Roger Federer – I believe he is called the GOAT (Greatest Off All Time) for a reason. He has incredible mental toughness and intelligence. Regardless of whether he is winning or losing, he remains humble, respectful and determined.  

I am passionate about my role at Pfizer CentreOne. It allows me to achieve ambitious goals by collaborating with colleagues and customers. And I never lose sight that ultimately my work is about supporting patient care and wellbeing.

Part eight - Stephanie Watson, Director, Customer Facing Strategy and Pipeline Development & Nicole Strauss, Pipeline Development and Innovation Lead

Stephanie Watson

What is the future that you envision for your daughter? 

I envision a future for my daughter in which she will always remember to choose bravery over perfection.  Rather than being afraid to try something new because of a fear of failure, or to ask for what she wants, I want her to use her voice, share her passions, and have the courage to go after what she wants.  My goal is to let her see me do the same, and to share stories of other women that have done just that – we can’t let fear stop us. We must push through our comfort zone, and not wait around for opportunities to find us – Go For It – Be Brave!  What’s the worst that can happen?

Nicole Strauss

What are the values you are instilling in your daughter?

I am instilling the same values for my son and daughter.  I don’t believe that there should be a gender difference in our approach to raising children.

These are the values I hope to instill for both:

  • Kindness: Not only having a positive attitude but also being able to include others and being thankful for what you have.

  • Forgiveness: Being able to forgive yourself as well as others for mistakes and learning  from your mistakes-no one is perfect, don’t be afraid to take a risk.

  • Self-Respect: Taking care of your body by having a healthy/active lifestyle and being accountable for your actions.

  • Work Ethic: Schoolwork is their #1 job with includes the need to be your own advocate when you don’t understand something, asking questions, studying hard and monitoring your grades.

My vision is that by instilling these values, my children will have the ability to overcome difficulties and face their fears, leading to self-confidence, independence and self-reliance.