Terry Wallace, VP of HR Global Operations at Pfizer, and Vina Dang, Managing Director for CareerBuilder, discussed the challenges of managing a global workforce and how data analytics is driving business objectives.
Vina Dang: Terry, can you start off by telling us a bit about your role as VP of HR Global Operations at Pfizer?
Terry Wallace: My department is made up of a variety of teams, some of which have traditional types of operational roles and some that are much less traditional. For example, on the more traditional side of the spectrum, we have global, global comp and then operations and shared service. Our work is standardized, automated and outsourced. I’d also say that the way the overall HR portal works, about 90 percent of our organization does a lot of colleague and manager transactions online; that’s also what we refer to as “HR source.” So this is a group that’s part of our HR IS group but is more traditional.
As I move to the other end of the spectrum, we have teams that are much more project-minded. So we have a team that we refer to as the “integrated management team,” which manages any global or multi-country program or project that we have as an organization. I also refer to it as kind of an air traffic control for the large, complex and challenging projects. Change management is similar, and we also have a dedicated team for merger and acquisition implementation. We’re an acquisitive organization, so it’s part of our strategy. We have dedicated resources that focus on the acquisition and implementation of other organizations as we make acquisitions.
“The virtual workspace is a big piece from a talent perspective, and we need to be sure that folks are comfortable and have a very high level of effectiveness working virtually.”
So what are some of the factors that are changing the talent landscape in the pharmaceutical industry specifically? And how are you changing your priorities to adapt to those changes?
Let me first just give you an overview of market trends in the pharmaceutical industry, which is facing a lot of challenges. There is a lot of articles out there around whether we are still in the business of “blockbusters.” For one thing, I would say there are tremendous regulatory compliance constraints which vary from market to market. The U.S. is very different than the UK, as is China and India. We have to be very mindful of those regulatory constraints. From a talent perspective, we are very much a global company, and while we are headquartered here in New York, it is rare that you hear anyone speaking about a single country or even a single region. We are structured globally; we have global systems and global processes with a high level of global standardization.
So coming back to the talent space, I’ll give you another example. Over 50 percent of my entire team is outside the United States, and the vast majority work from a single location, mostly from their home and mostly outside the United States. So when you talk about talent, it’s very challenging from the aspect of having to think cross-border and globally. When we post an America-focused role, you can be in the U.S., but you can also be in Canada or Chile. There is a great benefit to that, but also a great challenge. The virtual workspace is a big piece from a talent perspective, and we need to be sure that folks are comfortable and have a very high level of effectiveness working virtually. So that’s another component that we put into talent as far as challenges.
“Advanced analytics really comes down to making good, informed decisions more timely and more accurately. Perfection is not a goal; it’s not attainable.”
If I were to ask you a little bit more on the data and analytics piece, how are you using data to make decisions and be more strategic with business objectives?
There is a couple of different ways. In the data analytics space, there is a sub-team that we have within the HR RES group that is in-house. I know there are organizations that are doing this externally, and although I’m very comfortable with outsourcing, that can be debatable. It’s a life sciences organization, and while we’re in the pharmaceutical business, I will also say we’re in the good-decision business. Advanced analytics really comes down to making good, informed decisions more timely and more accurately. Perfection is not a goal; it’s not attainable.
So we’ve made a lot of progress here. I can comfortably say there’s not an HR program that we have at Pfizer that is not using analytics data to improve or at least formulate recommendations to improve every single one. That drives better HR decisions, and I would also say we’ve stepped into the realm of driving and informing business decisions. I’ll give you two examples. First, in China, we had a project on salesforce effectiveness. We have heavy turnover in that country and we’re trying to manage that. What are the causes, what levers can we pull, what are the things that we should be looking at that will help us understand that? I’ll tell you something that was very eye opening for me. We’re collecting an enormous amount of information to include things like, “How long is your commute?” “How do you get to work?” “Do you ride a bike?” “Do you drive or do you catch a bus?” Believe it or not, these are things that can start shedding some light on who stays and who goes.
The other example I would give is that there is a lot of good data around generations like millennials, older generations and baby boomers. But it is all very U.S.-centric and Western Europe-centric, although I’ll even throw Russia in there from a Cold War perspective. Those generations are led by big events, cultural trends and natural trends. But that doesn’t mean anything in a China, India, South Africa or a Singapore. They have different generations and different drivers of generations. An example I would give is that in China, there is a big generational shift around the single-family regulation. That doesn’t compute generationally to Germany or the United States. So when people talk about generations, if you’re going to be global and you’re going to think about global talent, then you need to think about global generations. That can mean that attraction, retention, development, strategy and approach in the U.S. should be different than it is in China or Brazil or Singapore. That was a real “ah-ha” moment for me that came from real information that we pulled together, which is that we’re telling a story with that information that leads to different HR and business decisions.
Terry Wallace is accountable for the delivery of global HR operations at Pfizer Inc. He is privileged to lead a truly global team of dedicated professionals who focus on delivering intuitive, reliable and compliant HR services on a global scale.
Terry’s areas of responsibility include:
- HR integration, compliance and standards management
- HR shared services and vendor governance operations
- HR information, analytics and portal management
- M&A implementation
- Change and content management
- Global payroll and C&B operations management
Prior to joining Pfizer, Terry held several roles of increasing responsibility with Deloitte Consulting’s Human Capital Practice, primarily focused on the M&A and HR/business transformation areas. Terry also had the privilege of serving as a police officer and United States Marine.
As Managing Director for CareerBuilder, Vina Dang is responsible for global sales strategies and revenue growth for Fortune 1000 companies headquartered throughout the Northeast. Vina has nearly 15 years of diverse experience in staffing and recruiting, consulting on industry trends, business analytics and talent acquisition partnerships. She uses her expertise to advise various organizations on forward-thinking practices, employment branding and innovative technology solutions to enhance or achieve their human capital goals.
In 2006, Vina joined CareerBuilder, where she has worked with some of the world’s largest employers designing effective recruitment strategies, aligning better workforce data and creating better user experiences to help her clients compete for talent.
Vina holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida.