Alumni Success Story: Lourdes del Cerro, ZLC Alumni 3C 2018 and Performance & Analytics Manager at Pfizer. Ver Linkedin
Following your graduation from ZLC, you went straight to Pfizer, one of the world’s premier biopharmaceutical companies, and your career path jumped up a level. How has this whole experience affected your professional life?
ZLC really made the difference on my professional career.
I’m a civil engineer, and before ZLC, I worked in different civil engineering projects for more than 5 years. During this time, I found myself enjoying the most my work with suppliers, from sourcing to logistics management. This prompted me to pursue a career in supply chain management.
I did some research and finally decided to study a master’s degree in ZLC, the best ranked in the world by Eduniversal. It wasn’t an easy decision: I was a civil engineer with no previous professional experience in supply chain eager to find a better job after graduation. And I did. After 10 months of classes and more than 10 recruiting processes, I got an offer from Pfizer before my graduation.
During these 20 months at Pfizer, I’ve been learning about the pharmaceutical industry, dealing with experts in various fields such as planning processes, manufacturing, quality and distribution, performing value stream analysis, and monitoring supply chain performance of 8 manufacturing sites located in Ireland and APAC. This experience has been a springboard for my career in supply chain, where I have had the opportunity to consolidate the skills acquired during the master and become a much more well-rounded professional with an extremely exciting career path in front of me.
Through a global supply network, Pfizer ensures supply of quality products that potentially significantly improve patients’ lives, and that these products are available whenever and wherever they are needed. What are the main challenges facing pharmaceutical companies in their supply chains today?
The biopharmaceutical industry is highly competitive and highly regulated. As a result, we face a number of industry-specific challenges, which, if not dealt with properly, can have a significant impact. These challenges include, among others: the loss of exclusivity of intellectual property rights, the healthcare legislation, the regulatory environment, the need of new product launches and the ability to replenish our products on a global network composed of more than 40 manufacturing sites while keeping costs in check.
Many of our branded products have multiple patents that expire at varying dates. Once the patent has expired, we lose exclusivity over these products and generic pharmaceutical manufacturers can produce similar products and sell them for a fraction of the price. This can have a huge impact on our market share. Consequently, we need to be able to accurately predict our future demand and adapt our manufacturing plans to avoid our products to expire before being sold.
Similarly, we must deal with lot of product launches every year. Before launching a product on a new market, we precisely study our potential demand and prepare our production plans and replenishment models months in advance. New products have high demand volatility and hence, our supply chain network has to be agile enough to quickly respond to these changes, always offering the expected customer service level.
As Performance Analytics & Digitization Manager, what specific project have been both innovative and revolutionary for the company?
Pfizer produces more than 17,000 SKUs that are sold in more than 125 countries. Some of our products need more than 50 component materials and go through tens of steps in production. Under such complex circumstances, colleagues need clear visibility of what’s going on in the manufacturing area.
In this regard, I’ve been working on the design and deployment of a digital tool that tracks the material flow within a plant. Site colleagues can easily check the end-to-end lead time, inventory levels, manufacturing output and open investigations affecting a specific product. The tool alerts the responsible person whenever the quality lead time exceeds the standard value, the stock level is reaching the safety stock level, or a supplier is not delivering on time. The ultimate purpose of the tool is to avoid or mitigate material flow disruptions, bottlenecks and inefficiencies.
At one point in your professional career you decided to go for the journey and see what it was like across the international fence. How do you look back on your experience studying the master degree at ZLC? What have you gained in terms of personal growth?
I can say without a doubt that studying the master’s degree at ZLC was one of the best decisions I’ve made, not only because it boosted my professional career but also because the personal experience was really enriching.
I was part of the first cohort of students that enrolled the 3 Continent Program. We spent 5 months at ZLC in Zaragoza (Spain), 1 month at MIT in Cambridge (USA) and 4 months at NSCIIC in Ningbo (China). The overall experience was amazing: I shared classes with people from all around the world with very different backgrounds, learnt from great professors, and experienced the lifestyle at the prestigious MIT.
What is your main message to those Spanish candidates who are thinking about embarking on the “back to school” adventure?
I would say: go for it! If you really want to jump-start your career and work in the supply chain world, ZLC is a great option. It might seem that going back to school for a year is a year lost, but that’s far from true. This is a great chance to be in direct contact with top notch companies that come to ZLC offering really interesting international job opportunities.
My personal recommendation for the Spanish candidates is to enroll in the global program ZLC currently offers (Spain – USA – Malaysia). Nowadays, most of the leading companies have worldwide supply chains, purchasing and distributing goods or services throughout a global network. The international experience and business exposure gained through studying in three different continents is very appreciated by recruiters when hiring for a global position.
Since I joined Pfizer, I’ve visited manufacturing sites in China, Japan, Australia, Singapore, Italy, Belgium, Ireland, Spain and USA. Being able to work in any tier or node of the supply chain, no matter the location, is what global companies expect from ZLC students.