Thursday, June 16, 2022
Meet Pfizer Canada’s new President
Recently, Laura Larbalestier, head of People Experience in Canada, sat down for a conversation with Najah Sampson, the company’s newly appointed President of Pfizer Canada. Prior to joining the Canadian organization, Najah was Vice President, Global Genitourinary Franchise Lead for Pfizer Oncology, based in New York. She will be relocating with her husband and young daughter to Canada, where she will be based at Pfizer Canada’s head office in Kirkland, Quebec. Here are some highlights from Laura’s conversation with Najah.
Laura: Tell us how you started your career at Pfizer?
Najah: I was lucky enough to get an internship in sales when I was at Florida A&M University. When my family heard the medicines that I was responsible for, they would show me the Pfizer medicines they were taking. I knew then that I wanted to be a part of Pfizer. A few months after completing the Sales internship, I started my second Pfizer internship at headquarters in New York. This time, I was working with the newly formed Customer Marketing Team. After graduating, I spent the next five years working in that same organization. That was my start!
Laura: Did you know what your career path was going to look like?
Najah: I thought I did at that time – we all think we know! What I did know was that Pfizer is a great organization, and there were so many different directions that I could take my career. After the first five years, I realized there were two things I was really passionate about. The first was the customer experience. I knew that I wanted to continue to work with customers and with patients. The second was that I also enjoyed the science behind our products. I figured the next move for me should be a brand marketing role. I spent several years leading Oncology brand and portfolio teams in the global organization. Then I had the opportunity to spend four years working in the CEO’s office first as the Director of Operations and then as Chief of Staff. We worked long hours, but it was a great education. As I moved through these roles, my career plan wasn’t set in stone, but I did have a development plan. And I knew that at some point, I wanted to be a country manager. I am honoured that my career path led me to Pfizer Canada.
Laura: What are some of the lessons you’ve learned in previous roles that you will be bringing to this role?
Najah: I think my favorite lesson is about thoughtful risk taking. Don’t be afraid to fail. Fail early, fail fast…but don’t fail too often! Pfizer sets us up for thoughtful risk taking. They surround us with amazing colleagues, they empower us with tools and with data and they really push us to think big. If we were at a company that didn’t encourage thoughtful risk taking, there would be no new thinking or new ideas. Because we are at a company that encourages us to dare to try, we’ve got to do it. That’s always stuck with me.
I think about how grateful I am to be at a company where my passion at work actually connects with my passions outside of work. My passion is my family, and I am desperately committed to ensuring that patients have hope and can get help from Pfizer medications. I spent a lot of my time at Pfizer working in Oncology because I’m so tied to it and the people in my family are a major part of that. I’m a firm advocate for making sure that patients are educated on their diseases, that they are able to talk to their healthcare providers and that they understand how much power they have in planning their care.
Laura: What has been your first learning about Canada?
Najah: The first learning is that everything you hear about Canadians is actually true! You guys love hockey. You’re incredibly warm, caring and welcoming. I can’t tell you how many people have emailed me just to say welcome to Canada, offered help on what to do when it turns cold, where to get the best French food in Montreal, and so on. Thank you, that’s how I’m learning more about the country and the culture.
Laura: Morning person or night person?
Najah: Definitely morning.
Laura: Cats or dogs?
Najah: I don’t have either, but dogs.
Laura: Favourite movie?
Najah: I love superhero movies, so anything from Marvel!
Laura: Favourite food?
Laura: Favourite music artist or band?
Najah: I like very soft music. Sade – I can listen to her for hours.
Laura: Favourite sports team?
Najah: I feel like that’s a trap! On this one, I follow my husband. He’s from California and loves the Golden State Warriors so I’m rooting for them right now.
Laura: You’re gonna need to pick a Canadian sports team soon, and you’re going to need to be careful!
Najah: There’s the trap!
Laura: Three words your friends would use to describe you?
Najah: Thoughtful, warm, and organized. Very, very organized.