I started my career at Pfizer back in 1998. A recent graduate from Leeds University with a BSc in Sports Science and Physiology, my first role was as a sales representative in Hereford and Worcester. Twenty three years later, I’m still here, and very proud to be leading our UK organisation as the UK Country Manager and Managing Director.
I’m also very proud that in 2021, for the sixth, consecutive year, Pfizer UK has been certified as a Top Employer, by the external best practice and benchmarking organisation, the Top Employer Institute. This certifies us as one of the companies who provide the best working environment for employees in the UK.
There are many factors that feed into this, but for me, the award represents two things that stand out about Pfizer:
1. Our untiring commitment to our purpose – Breakthroughs that change patients’ lives. Every decision we take is driven by the desire to benefit patients and their families. Underpinning our purpose are four clear values: courage, excellence, equity and joy. These values exemplify the Pfizer mindset, how we approach our work and what we look to achieve.
2. Our desire to build a workplace culture in which diversity and inclusion are not words, but a reality of our company. I want every colleague to feel able to bring their whole self to work and to enjoy the support, resources and trust that enables them to reach their full potential. At Pfizer we believe that every person deserves to be seen, heard and cared for.
I’d like to share some of the ways we support our colleagues to thrive, and which make our company such a dynamic, interesting and wonderful place to work…
Pfizer is a people and innovation-led business. Our work is driven by the creativity and intelligence of our workforce. We find the right people for the right roles. We train them, we invest in them and want to develop and retain them.
This is a big topic, with links to our emphasis on diversity and inclusion (more about that later). But it starts with ensuring we have working practices that attract the best people.
So, we’re champions of flexible working. We aim to prioritise simplicity – freeing colleagues up to focus on their most meaningful work. “Is it as simple as it possibly can be?” is a question I ask daily. We’re advocates of activity-based working, that is replacing static workstations with architecture that offers different spaces for different types of activity, from quiet areas for reflection to innovative, collaborative gathering points. In our Surrey headquarters, there are yoga studios and a meditation room eagerly waiting for colleagues to return, along with walking and running routes around our site.
Our ‘just do you’ approach enables every colleague to work in the ways that suit them best. We all make our own choices about how to structure our working days. Plus, at every level, colleagues are encouraged, and have the opportunity to stretch beyond the day job, explore their career options and gain new skills.
The support available includes workplace mentors, career progression tools, free membership of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association and skills-based volunteering opportunities, from science, technology, engineering and maths outreach to participating in the Global Health Fellows programme.
There is an international corporate volunteer programme that places Pfizer colleagues in short (three to six months) fellowships with international development organisations. These placements build our colleagues’ experience and understanding of a variety of healthcare issues, while bringing about meaningful healthcare improvements for people in the greatest need around the world as we strive to reduce healthcare disparities.
Giving colleagues the space and opportunity to develop is beneficial in and of itself, but I firmly believe that respecting and recognising individual talent also supports colleague wellbeing. When our efforts are appreciated, we feel happier.
Wellbeing in all its forms has always been a core focus for me. I’m a keen runner and taking time for exercise is a vital way for me to re-energise and work at my best. One of the initiatives popular throughout our organisation is our drive to encourage all colleagues to find ways to manage their energy, take breaks and refresh.
When COVID struck, here in the UK we set out three clear priorities for our company:
1. The safety and wellbeing of our colleagues and the communities in which they live and work.
2. Continuing to supply our customers and patients with the medicines, vaccines and support they need.
3. Finding solutions to COVID-19.
Wellbeing was paramount. If colleagues knew they were supported, they could focus on working to support their teams and communities.
Here in the UK, we recognise that the pandemic has left colleagues dealing with a whole raft of different challenges, emotions and obstacles. We wanted to ensure that everyone felt connected to one another and to the company, despite working remotely.
As teams, that meant staying in close contact, offering support and helping one another to work flexibly, including taking breaks as and when we needed. As a company, it meant pulling together key resources to support colleagues’ mental and physical wellbeing. Every colleague is trusted to structure their working day to meet their personal and professional needs.
This included mental wellbeing webinars, invitations to online colleague networks and free access to resources like the Headspace mindfulness app and Grokker.com, a hub for online fitness, virtual yoga, cooking and relaxation courses. It included running our annual colleagues-and-families festival, Joy Pfest, online.
We created new channels to share information with colleagues, from online townhalls through to a dedicated radio show, with headline guests who spoke about issues like trust, purpose and relaxation. Additional creative content encouraged colleagues to share tips on wellbeing and smarter ways to work from home.
In a recent survey, 96% of colleagues said that they agreed with the statement, ‘I feel Pfizer is doing everything it can to support me and my family during this crisis’.
Throughout the pandemic, our deep-seated belief in the power of science was front and centre – a belief that #ScienceWillWin. The COVID-19 vaccines are testament to what collaboration and scientific rigour can achieve.
It’s our culture that shapes our endeavours – promoting the excellence, courage and determination needed to open new medical breakthroughs to patients.
Courage drives us forward in other ways too, building the mindset that encourages innovation, agility and adaptability. A prime example of that, and a clear illustration of the culture at Pfizer UK, is the dynamic work to support diversity across our company.
Diversity and Inclusion is a business imperative at Pfizer, both from the leadership and at grassroots. Our aim is to be as diverse as the patients and communities we serve.
We have five talented colleague resource groups (CRGS), which identify areas where we can affect positive change and take action to make it happen. These CRGS focus on gender, ethnicity, LGBTQI+, disability and cross-generational work, each sharing their key objectives and campaigns via our dedicated diversity and inclusion channel, #ThinkAgainActNow.
Part of our diversity and inclusion drive is our work to close the Gender Pay Gap. This is a standing agenda item for the UK Board and a topic I take clear accountability for.
We have developed five themes that are already helping us to make significant inroads into the Gender Pay Gap, strengthening inclusion and creating opportunities for all colleagues. These are:
1. Ensuring recruitment diversity.
2. Making flexible working successful for all.
3. Extending and enriching our existing career support.
4. Enabling colleagues to return to work easily after a long-term absence.
5. Introducing family-friendly practices throughout people’s working lives.
This work is agile and ongoing, adapting in response to colleague feedback and already delivering significant results. Our Gender Pay Gap is going in the right direction from a 15.9% median pay gap in 2018 to 10.02% 2020.
An amazing workplace for all
There are so many reasons why I’m proud to be part of Pfizer UK – the culture, the commitment, the care. Every day, I work alongside colleagues who are absolutely dedicated to the discovery and development of new medicines and vaccines and going the extra mile to get them into patients’ hands.
Ultimately, I believe the reason that we’re one of Britain’s Top Employers is simple. We employ people who see beyond job titles. People who make the impossible possible, for themselves, for their teams and for the patients we are here to serve.
If you want a career full of new discoveries – and the chance to make breakthroughs that change patients’ lives – I can promise you one thing, you’ll find it at Pfizer. I have!
After graduating from Leeds University Ben joined Pfizer in 1998, where his career has taken him through a variety of leadership roles both in the UK and internationally.
Most recently Ben was the Chief Marketing Officer across Europe, Japan, Korea and ANZ where he led the digital transformation of the commercial organisation and innovative partnerships across the sector. He is passionate about organisational culture and purpose to ensure patients benefit from breakthrough innovation and science. He is now the UK Country Manager and Managing Director for Pfizer UK, leading the organisation through unprecedented times of opportunity to bring science, data and technology together to transform healthcare.
Ben also sits on The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry board and represents industry on a number of committees with government and NHS.