After landing her first role at Pfizer, Silva worked her way through a number of positions — from health care sales to global operations and into leadership. Some colleagues advised that if she wanted to go further maybe she should go back to business school or perhaps work abroad on an international assignment. Instead, when an opportunity arose in 2018 to take on a leadership position as the general manager for Pfizer CentreOne, a leading pharmaceutical contract development and manufacturing organization, Silva — who had no formal experience or training in manufacturing — dove into the role.
“I didn’t know if I would be able to take what I knew from a marketing and commercial perspective and learn the manufacturing language, which is so critical to building credibility,” she explains.
But Silva did exactly that. Not only did she forge strong business partnerships that helped unlock potential customers and new streams of revenue, Silva also instituted a number of operational and digital changes, restructured the company to have a clearer geographical and technology focus, and helped Pfizer CentreOne win an award for its customer service. All told, Silva led Pfizer CentreOne during its highest period of revenue in its 40 year history.
“[Taking that role] really was the most important moment in my career because I was able to prove to other people, to myself and to other women that you don’t have to know everything or have grown up in a certain function to take a new job,” she says. “If you surround yourself with experts and establish yourself as credible professional, you can move forward and lead.”
A leading example
With the same level of confidence, Silva recently took on an entirely new role — this time as the vice president, global franchise lead for hematology at Pfizer. Now, with her new job focused on both marketing and developing a portfolio of assets for Pfizer’s hematology portfolio, Silva will once again be involved in a completely different side of the business. Silva says that taking on this position has been a game-changing decision.
What advice would she give to other women in manufacturing who might be looking to shake up their working life? Be unafraid of asking questions.
“Whenever I’ve met other professionals, I would always hear their title, yet I wanted to know more about what they actually do on a day-to-day basis,” she explains. “I feel like that curiosity could be seen as a weakness, but that is how you find out what other types of roles you could see yourself in.”
By forging these kinds of new connections, Silva says that women can help blaze a new trail in their career.
“When people give you advice and offer something, take advantage of it. Even if it’s something you don’t think you’re interested in. Be curious,” she advises.
Learn what advice all of our 20 Honorees have for females entering manufacturing careers. Download your copy of the 2020 Influential Women in Manufacturing E-Book.