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2 key leadership insights from Pfizer’s push for a vaccine

by | Dec 23, 2020 | Leadership

With the first batches of the COVID-19 vaccine making its way to the general public, things are looking up. But as many of us know, the road to recovery is a long one, and we’re only just starting the journey. 

While multiple pharmaceutical companies have been working to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus, Pfizer’s was the first to receive FDA approval and hit the market, with others following close behind. 

That achievement doesn’t come easily. The only way Pfizer was capable of creating a quality medication so quickly was through the strong guidance and leadership of Pfizer’s core executives. 

Here are two key leadership insights from Pfizer’s push for a vaccine that you could apply to your own organization to better handle crises in the coming year.

Be relentless.

Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla was no stranger to pushing limits and trying to exceed expectations during the production of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

“From urging vaccine researchers to move fast to pressing the manufacturing staff to ramp up, Mr. Bourla pushed employees to go beyond even their own ambitious goals to meet Covid-19’s challenge,” wrote Jared S. Hopkins for The Wall Street Journal.

Bourla made it abundantly clear to his team that they were to do everything in their power to ramp up production for this vaccine, and he did it all while supporting them. Budgets, time concerns and resources were a nonissue — this executive gave his team everything they could need.

Be flexible.

At one point during the creation of the COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer realized they were not properly equipped to produce an mRNA vaccine because they were utilizing a new manufacturing process. So, the company used its own money instead of waiting for federal funding to upgrade their facilities. Pfizer executives are said to have made this decision to reduce other agencies from having leverage over the design of the vaccine and trials. 

In fact, Mike McDermott, president of Pfizer Global Supply and overseer for Pfizer’s global manufacturing network, “spent $500 million to buy and design equipment, more than double what he budgeted,” according to Hopkins.

Without the determination and flexibility shown by McDermott, the company’s COVID-19 vaccine might not be available. It is through making hard decisions and accepting change that Pfizer — and other organizations — can survive the current and upcoming crises.

Take these leadership strategies and apply them to your own organization. They will allow you the flexibility to combat future crises, and possibly come out  better than before.

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Ashley joined the Sidecar team as Community Coordinator in 2020 and spends her working hours focused on providing value to our members. In her free time, Ashley enjoys DIY crafts and playing with her puppy, Scooby.

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