"To Move up, Keep Learning"

The President of Pfizer Spain Foundation Speaks at IESE

25/11/2013

Elvira Sanz

Lifelong learning. No two words could better define Elvira Sanz, President of the Pfizer Spain Foundation and of Farmaindustria, the Spanish Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry.  On November 22, as part of IESE's Global Leadership Series, she shared insights from her 25 years of experience in different companies within the sector with Madrid EMBA students.

Ms. Sanz’s career path has made its way through airlines, hotels and offices in Spain and the U.S.  “International experience is important for professional development because it opens your eyes to different realities; it is an experience that is worth your while to pursue,” she affirmed.  “However,” she continued, “even when you make it to the top, don’t forget to keep learning.”

Most of all Sanz spoke of leadership and the lessons that have served her well during a distinguished, diligent and successful career. “You have to be able to use the different leadership styles that you possess. And if you don’t have them, you should develop them. A leader should be conciliatory yet demanding, democratic and much more at the same time,” she stated. She also acknowledged that leading your peers is more complicated than it seems, often requiring large amounts of sensitivity and understanding.

With change comes opportunity

For Pfizer’s top executive, opportunity goes hand-in-hand with every change. “To progress is not to move up, but rather to learn more. Any place that allows you to keep learning offers you a great opportunity.  You have to keep moving with this idea in mind,” she advised.

Elvira Sanz, who by age 38 had already progressed into the position of general director, is a strong believer in taking ownership of your own career. “And when you are at the top,” she said, “be humble.”
 
At the same time, she discussed the problems that come with working in the public eye. “The position that you occupy when you are in a senior leadership role carries many risks. Sometimes you have to be not so much brilliant as you do prudent,” she said. She concluded the session with one last recommendation: “Work is important, but you should never neglect your personal life.”

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