Pfizer's growth prescription

Pfizer's office at Mapletree Business City.
Pfizer's office at Mapletree Business City.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Ms Lee says Pfizer aims to foster a more open, innovative culture at its Singapore office, among other initiatives.
Ms Lee says Pfizer aims to foster a more open, innovative culture at its Singapore office, among other initiatives. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Drug giant boosts S'pore operations with new office, and also plans to expand manufacturing, groom local talent

American drug giant Pfizer is beefing up its Singapore operations with a new corporate office, and plans to expand its manufacturing plant.

The moves come alongside efforts to make Singapore a test bed for innovations, as well as initiatives to groom local employees into regional leaders, country manager Lee He-Young told The Straits Times.

The company is moving its Singapore office from the Science Park to Mapletree Business City tomorrow, and is also in talks with the Economic Development Board to expand its manufacturing site in Tuas.


Ms Lee says Pfizer aims to foster a more open, innovative culture at its Singapore office, among other initiatives. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Singapore was one of Pfizer's pilot markets for launching its multi-channel communications platform, which allows doctors to connect with the pharmaceutical firm through various channels, such as live webinars.

Pfizer is best known for drugs such as Lipitor, used to lower blood cholesterol, and Viagra, for erectile dysfunction. The company has had a presence in Singapore since 1964, when it started out with 10 employees at an office in Far East Shopping Centre. It now employs more than 600 staff here - about 500 at its Tuas manufacturing site and 100 in its corporate office.

The new 16th-floor office at Mapletree Business City features floor-to-ceiling windows offering panoramic views of the nearby port. There is also a "hotdesking" arrangement where employees do not have fixed desks.

This is due not just to the fact that staff are frequently out of the office meeting clients, but is also part of efforts to foster a more open, innovative culture, said Ms Lee.

The Singapore operations have become increasingly important for Pfizer over the years, she noted.

The Republic is a key manufacturing site for the company, and pharma ingredients made here are supplied to more than 150 markets. Ms Lee also sees Singapore as a test bed for innovations and commercial initiatives targeted at the region as a whole.

The pharma industry has lagged behind other sectors in taking advantage of the latest trends in digital technology, she noted, and Pfizer Singapore can play a leading role in this area.

Singapore was one of Pfizer's pilot markets for launching its multi-channel communications platform, which allows doctors to connect with the pharmaceutical firm through various channels, such as live webinars. Another soon-to-be-launched innovation is a platform that will help general practitioners treat patients with multiple concomitant conditions more effectively, through screening, diagnosis and patient education, added Ms Lee.

She also hopes to develop local talent to take on regional roles, by sending employees on secondments elsewhere in the region to get exposure.

Ms Lee, 43, joined Pfizer in South Korea 16 years ago. She moved to Singapore last May and was previously based in Hong Kong, where Pfizer's regional headquarters are located.

"The size of the Singapore market... can limit experience or ideation, which is why I encourage close interaction with the rest of the region, which is made up of very diverse markets," said Ms Lee.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2016, with the headline 'Pfizer's growth prescription'. Print Edition | Subscribe