Pfizer Initiative Leads to Second Career for Former Employee

Pfizer logo on outside of tall office building

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In 2013, Pfizer launched its Dare to Try initiative, a project designed to foster internal innovation at the pharma giant. It was an effort that encouraged employees to not be afraid to fail as they reached for the sky.

For Greg Wilcox, Pfizer’s Dare to Try program launched a second career. At Pfizer, Wilcox was the director of its separation sciences plant in Connecticut. During his tenure at Pfizer, Wilcox saw the company, a company that attracts some of the brightest scientific minds in the country, struggle to find process technologists who were qualified to do the job. In an interview with The Westerly Sun in Groton, Conn., Wilcox noted that the process technologists are key employees whose role is to oversee “aspects of pharmaceutical development” and other various processes. But, many of those individuals hired by the company didn’t really have the skills necessary, he said.

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Using the company’s Dare to Try program as a launchpad, Wilcox began to develop a training program that would provide those technicians with the necessary skills to do the job the company required. However, as the Sun noted, Wilcox said that Pfizer’s need in Connecticut wasn’t strong enough to actually support a standalone program. But, as he quickly discovered, Pfizer wasn’t the only company in the area with the same concerns over technologists with the lack of required skills. Another pharma company, Amgen, was also facing the same issue, the Sun reported.

With a greater need in mind, Wilcox began to network. He reached out to the Westerly Education Center in nearby Westerly, Rhode Island, to see if that local organization could help foster a program. After a few discussions, the center saw that there was a significant need for such a training program that went beyond the pharmaceutical industry. After receiving a grant from the state government, the center was able to launch a process technology program, the Sun said.

After the program was established, Wilcox, who had spent 39 years with Pfizer, retired from the pharma giant and took a position as an instructor and project coordinator with the Westerly Education Center. Since the program was established, multiple companies, including several in the pharmaceutical industry, have partnered with the Center in hopes of harnessing some of the trained personnel who will be emerging from the program. Some of the companies include Amgen, Rhodes Pharmaceutical, Tedor Pharma and Roger Williams Medical Center. Since taking a position with the Center, Wilcox has guided the first group of students through successful completion of the program and several of them have already found positions that will use that training.  

In his interview with the Sun, Wilcox said his new role is about helping people find jobs, while also helping businesses find people who have the necessary skill sets. All of this was because Wilcox dared to try.

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