Read the Conversation

EF: You were appointed as Interim CEO for Pfizer Mexico recently. What was the mission you were given?

TM: Pfizer’s global purpose is to bring breakthroughs that change patients lives. My mission during this time is to bring this purpose to life in Mexico. This can take many forms. It includes advancing the pipeline of innovative products coming out with a projection of 25 breakthroughs coming out by 2025. We are also working to expand access to our current medicines which is a big opportunity in Mexico. Finally, we are committed to making Pfizer an amazing workplace for all. We are proud to be recognized by a variety of publications to be a great place to work. To summarize, innovation, access, and people are my priorities.

EF: 2020 started with a period of turbulence and transition with covid-19. What advice would you give to other GMs on managing in a time of crisis?

TM: Managing in a time of crisis is where leadership becomes of the utmost importance. Understanding the challenges the team is going through and being empathetic are my number one priorities everyday. We have started every meeting over the past few weeks by asking how our colleagues are doing, if they are safe, if their family is safe, and making sure that the work-life balance is shifted a little more towards life in these challenging times. From a business perspective, it’s too early to know what’s going to happen. We are meeting everyday with the crisis management team to understand what the challenges are for the business and finding ways to mitigate these challenges, but also finding opportunities for Pfizer to lead in terms of new products, new innovations, and new ways to interact with physicians. Another thing we are very proud of is the global press release that Pfizer issued a few days ago. We are working with a company called Biontech to co-develop a potential coronavirus vaccine which could help to prevent the spread of covid-19. It’s very exciting and Pfizer is committed globally, and in Mexico, to fighting this disease.

EF: I had read a press release by Albert Bourla calling for industry-wide collaboration. What would a working collaboration for Pfizer look like beyond corona?

TM: What Albert Bourla has said is that we have released our 5-point plan which includes giving access to our data, our medicine, our expertise and leading scientists. We have had a lot of experience with vaccines. Our people are focused on this as much as possible for the benefit of the people of Mexico and abroad. A working collaboration from other pharmaceuticals could look like a mutual exchange data and expertise to fight this disease together while working in tandem with the government. The global pandemic is a huge challenge for the world with a lot of unnecessary loss of life. However, it’s inspiring to see how quickly companies mobilize, how quickly we can collaborate, and how quickly our scientists can discover new medicines.

EF: Now that the covid-19 has become a global pandemic, there has been a lot of interest and activity in health and pharma. How would you maintain the momentum of interest and investment after the corona pandemic passes?

TM: We’re all experiencing a global stock market collapse, so we do need to restore investor confidence in the stock market and, specifically, in healthcare. We are reinvesting 15% of global revenues back into R&D which feeds our huge pipeline. Confidence in the pharma sector is brought by innovation and a strong and exciting pipeline like that of Pfizer’s. In addition, we’re investing in different types of therapies. Our portfolio is becoming more innovative and more targeted. Watching the healthcare ecosystem is exciting and it’s exciting for us to be on the frontlines of things like gene therapy, immunotherapy, much more targeted treatments for devastating diseases. Our pipeline is especially focused on new lines in oncology, rare diseases, and inflammation/immunology. 

EF: I noticed that the Toluca plant is positioning itself as a regional supplier. What is Pfizer’s current footprint in Mexico? What plans are there for the future?

TM: Pfizer’s presence in Mexico is amongst the largest of all of Latam’s Pfizer operations, both in terms of commercial offices and production plants. The plant in Toluca exports to many more than 50 countries. It’s not only important to Mexican operations but important to operations in Latin America and beyond. We have lofty growth aspirations in Mexico even with the slowing of economic growth last year and the coronavirus this year. In order to achieve those growth aspirations, we’re going to need a large amount of staff and resources here in Mexico. 

EF: What is the ideal distribution of tactics, strategies, and adaptations that a leader should take upon today?

TM: I’ve spent most of my time on tactics because there are always fires. What I’ve learned over time is that the team is looking to me for strategy. The first thing I did is to reinforce empowerment in the team. Leadership in Mexico is different from leading teams in the US and other countries I’ve worked in. Adjusting my leadership style to the culture of the country was a very quick necessity and a very quick learning. Reinforcing team empowerment also means conveying the fact that we’re co-creating the strategy together and fighting the fires together. My focus will be 50% on strategy, 25% on tactics, and 25% on innovative solutions. 

EF: As the one of the leading pharma companies in Mexico, the decisions you make today will ripple in the sector 10 years down the road. What sort of long term impact would you like to impart today?

TM: I would really like to work on expanding access. The biggest opportunity for Pfizer and patients in this country is the expansion of access. Not only prioritizing the continued work on new product innovations, but focusing on working with the current portfolio, working with the government, working with private entities, NGOs, on innovating ways to bring access to patients. The decisions that are on my mind and the ones that we’re working on today are the ones that lead patients to have full empowerment over their own healthcare decisions and the medicine that they need.

EF: Next year Pfizer is celebrating 70 years in Mexico. What would you and your team celebrate when you raise that glass of champagne?

TM: First and foremost, I would celebrate the people. Since the nearly 70 years we have been here, the business has changed, the portfolio has changed, the leaders have changed, but the people and the culture is what stays the same. The people and the culture of Pfizer is the core of our competitive advantage. Products will come and go, and leaders will come and go. The culture that the leaders develop and that the people are living is what I’m most proud of.

EF: What is the final message you would like to send to our readership?

TM: Pfizer puts its patients at the center of everything we do. We have new values that we live every single day. One of them is joy. Especially in these difficult times, it’s important to find joy in our daily work and joy in our life outside of work. We share that everyday.

March 2020