MBA grads looking to make headway in an ever-expanding field with massive growth potential should look no further than healthcare and pharmaceuticals. There’s a reason more and more business school graduates have begun to pursue pharma over more tried-and-true post-MBA paths like real estate, consulting, and finance: the pharma industry offers a myriad of opportunities. There’s an almost inexhaustible supply of interesting problems to solve while earning boast-worthy salaries.
When it comes to major industry players, Pfizer is one of the undisputed global pharmaceutical leaders. Many of its products have burrowed their way into popular consciousness—both figuratively and literally. Lipitor, Viagra, Zoloft, Xanax, Advil, ChapStick, Preparation H, and Robitussin are iconic brands unto themselves.
Below, we’ll take a deeper look into exactly how MBAs can gain a foothold at Pfizer.
Why Do MBAs Love Pfizer?
Pfizer’s name brand recognition just so happens to correlate with a stellar internal reputation among employees, both past and present. Forbes, Fortune, LinkedIn, CareerBliss all consistently rank Pfizer as one of the happiest, most employee-centric, and/or most in-demand employers in the American pharma space.
In an interview with the Stevens Institute of Technology blog, Pfizer Senior QA Manager Bill Mestrandrea, a Stevens MBA alum, spoke of the deep camaraderie that he has with his fellow MBAs at Pfizer, comparing it to a “band of brothers.”
He elaborates: “We’re all in it together. I’ve met people from other departments who my work influences, and they’ve influenced my work as well. It gave me a better understanding of the network within Pfizer, and how it all comes together to form one company, always working in support of our patients.”
An anonymous former Pfizer employee took to Glassdoor to extol the company’s virtues: “If you can keep up with the fast pace and are not overly sensitive, Pfizer is a great to work. Everyday is an adventure and the benefits are excellent.” An anonymous Technical Specialist in the New York branch lauded Pfizer’s “great gym, clinic, cafeteria, and day care” in a Forbes profile.
Payscale reports that MBAs earn an average starting salary of around $121,000. Pfizer prides itself on a competitive compensation and benefits package that rewards employees “based on the contributions they make to [the] business.”
The company offers a number of in-house health and wellness programs, including health and disability insurance, medical screening, free or reduced-cost vaccinations, discounts on Pfizer products, and nutrition and fitness counseling. As part of the benefits package, Pfizer also offers access to colleague-directed retirement funds, company contributions to retirement financial vehicles, life insurance, and financial planning education.
Working at Pfizer
If there’s a common thread that runs through day-to-day life for all MBA grads at Pfizer, no matter their function, it’s that they’re all expected to move quickly and keep up with the constant demand. Pfizer is sympathetic and has sought out solutions to help acclimate first-year MBAs—namely, its Summer Associate Program, which has placed alum in full-time roles for the past 15 years.
Pfizer’s 10-12 week Summer Associate Program recruits and provides “first-year MBA students from top-ranked business schools … with a variety of unique experiences that will serve to develop and broaden critical skill sets and competencies as they progress their development towards leadership roles within Pfizer.”
Students are assigned challenging projects within Consumer Marketing, Corporate Audit, Corporate Finance, Global Procurement, Pfizer Consulting & Execution, and Pharmaceutical Marketing. By the end, Summer Associates “gain a wealth of valuable industry knowledge, networking opportunities, and life experiences.”
According to Pfizer, “MBA Summer Associates receive an industry competitive salary, housing support options and the prospect of conversion to a full-time opportunity upon the completion of their MBA degree.”
Jane Scholl (Columbia Business School ’12), whose healthcare resume stemmed from a desire to “improve the lives of others,” discussed the way her 2012 internship led to a position with the Marketing Rotational Program the following year:
“Though I only spent three months with Pfizer during the summer, I was treated as a valued member of the team rather than an intern. I was encouraged to share my thoughts and ideas even if they differed from those of other colleagues. I worked on meaningful projects that contributed to the business, and some of my recommendations were implemented before the end of the summer.”
Oindrila Sardar (Chicago Booth ’11), a Senior Manager at Pfizer’s Established Products Marketing Platform, discussed the relationship she had with the rotation managers during her Summer Associate internship:
“My rotation managers have played a critical role in my development with weekly one-on-one meetings and their insightful project guidance. They have been receptive to my interests and have matched them with meaningful assignments Throughout my rotations I have worked with cross-functional colleagues from many areas of the company which has helped me further understand Pfizer and its structure. I have been surprised by the high level of trust and responsibility given from the very beginning.”
Landing a Job at Pfizer
It’s pretty straightforward: Pfizer’s Summer Associate Internship is a surefire way for MBAs to get hired. In fact, 16 out of its recent 25 summer associates were extended full-time offers. That said, there’s plenty of recruitment that takes place outside the sacred intern space.
In the fall, Pfizer aggressively targets top MBA programs, particularly in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast close to its New York HQ. The company is interested in drawing from a pool of diverse and competitive first-year applicants, especially those with a taste for finance, marketing, global supply, and general management. Although previous pharma experience will make your application more competitive, Pfizer is equally interested in applicants with compelling reasons for a career change.
Interviews begin in January and run until March. Pfizer sometimes conducts group interview sessions in which four or five applicants discuss issues with staff members. This process is designed to understand which folks will make a meaningful contribution to a Pfizer culture with many distinct and occasionally contentious points-of-view.