Some people know what they want to be when they grow up by the time they are 5 years old. For me, I’m still figuring that out, but that’s part of the adventure – seeing opportunities and taking chances. I set my sights on an international experience with Pfizer in 2016 when I started working for Pfizer’s now CEO, Albert Bourla.
I started working for Albert Bourla when he was leading our Innovative Health business. At that time, as his chief of staff, I led strategic and operational projects and was his traveling companion for all domestic and international trips. It was on these trips, when Albert would participate in a Town Hall or speak at a conference, and I would hear stories of his own career development and specifically how he lived in 8 different countries. These trips also gave me the opportunity to meet leaders from around the world and learn of their journeys both professionally and personally. Whether it was the Japanese R&D colleague who was a commercial business leader in Europe or the Latino colleague who was the Emerging Markets Chief Commercial Officer, they all told stories of amazing adventures in new lands and new cultures.
It was also during this time that I traveled to Norway and Sweden and met four, fabulous female leaders who were so impressive and inspiring that I couldn’t help but to want to be like them – a Country Manager. These women, my predecessor, Päivi Kerkola, Finland country manager at the time; Henriette Rosenquist, Denmark country manager at the time; Sissel Andresen, Norway country manager; and Malin Parkler, Sweden country manager are smart and bold and have made positive impacts in those respective countries.
Before assuming my current role as Pfizer Finland, Country Manager, I worked directly for our CEO as his chief of staff. I was also Vice President of Executive Operations and the Site Lead for our New York Headquarters. These roles were incredibly fulfilling and taught me something new every day. But most of all they prepared me for the next step in my career. And, while I loved what I was doing, when the opportunity to be considered for the Finland Country Manager role opened, I was ready.
My husband and I had talked about this as a possibility, but the truth is, it all happened rather quickly and was probably a year or so before we would have planned. That said, sometimes timing is everything and that has certainly been the case here.
I was announced as the new Pfizer Finland, Country Manager on February 28. With excitement and anticipation, I scheduled a trip to visit and meet my new team the second week of March but then COVID-19 happened, and everything was put on hold. I put an interim lead in charge in Finland and continued my focus on the work needed for our CEO, executive team and New York Headquarters. At the same time, my family and I started getting excited about our pending move to Finland.
Pfizer provided us much support from the beginning and the support continues. In the Spring, we were seeing homes online in Helsinki and we were equipped with support for language and cultural training. Pfizer also helped us navigate the processes for work and residency permits, which is needed under normal circumstances but even more necessary during COVID-19. As Spring turned to Summer and COVID restrictions eased, we were finally able to travel to Finland. While we weren’t certain we would be allowed in the country, Pfizer prepared paperwork on the essential need for me to be in country and also helped relieve my stress of the worst case being a roundtrip back to the US.
Upon arrival in our new, adoptive country, we were welcomed by the Pfizer Finland organization. In addition to the services included in my relocation package such as temporary housing and people to call for help with setting up internet service, we received advice on where to go if we were missing pancakes or bagels and where to shop from my new organization. It was one of our first times venturing out, while my daughter was getting her haircut, that a colleague from my new team came over and introduced herself offering help as well.
My family and I have been in Helsinki, Finland for just 3 months and it already feels like home. My kids have settled in nicely at the international school and while we still have some boxes to unpack and home goods to purchase, we feel established in our new environment.
As Pfizer Finland’s new country manager, my goals are to ensure access and availability of innovative therapies to the people of Finland, promote investment in research and innovation and, elevate innovations happening here. I hope to bring the best of Finland to Pfizer and the best of Pfizer to the people of Finland. In my short time in-country, I’ve already learned the ‘sisu’ – determination, bravery, resilience – attitude of my colleagues. We are a mid-sized market in Pfizer’s overall organization but the talent here is anything but mid-sized. One of the good things to come out of the COVID is the ability for many to work remotely effectively. As a result, I hope there will be more opportunities for the talents of the Pfizer Finland organization to assume regional and global roles without the need to relocate. As an agile market, colleagues in the Pfizer Finland organization are experts at figuring out what needs to be done and making it happen resulting in positive impacts to the business and ultimately for patients. I look forward to harnessing this talent and exposing it to leaders across our company.
Moving transatlantic is hard enough but when done in the midst of a global pandemic it can feel impossible at times. We didn’t have a chance to pack up on favorite foods and goods from the US before coming to Finland and didn’t fully realize, because of COVID, we don’t know when we will get back to the US for a visit. And, while my family and I will miss our extended family and friends back in the US during the upcoming holiday season, we will take this opportunity to make new traditions and even enjoy the colder and darker days with lots of candles and wine (for adults only, of course). We look forward to traveling to Lapland, meeting the real Santa Claus and seeing the Northern Lights. Finland has been voted the happiest country in the world, three years in a row. Living here now, I understand why … saunas, lakes, forests and Fazer chocolates explain a lot.
Deb Mangone is the new Country Manager of Pfizer Finland. Mangone was appointed to her new role in February 2020, but due to COVID restrictions she was only able to take over her new position in Finland since August 2020.
Mangone is a highly experienced leader who has been with Pfizer for nearly 20 years. She is a high-energy, results-driven, strategic leader with strong analytical, people management and interpersonal skills. In 2001, Mangone began her career with Pfizer as a Global Sourcing Manager. Since then she has held various positions with increasing responsibility and has a proven track record of managing executive-level projects and adapting to the ever-and-rapidly changing business environment. Her most recent position, prior to this appointment, was Chief of Staff to Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer Inc. She was also Vice President of Executive Operations and the New York Headquarters Site Lead. As a trusted advisor to Albert Bourla, she worked closely with Pfizer’s Executive Leadership Team on business strategies and operations.
Mangone holds BS and MS degrees in Industrial Engineering from North Carolina State University and an MBA from Columbia University. She is from New York USA and now lives in Helsinki with her husband, son and daughter.