More than 360 jobs in cutting-edge technology sectors were created in less than two years in Thessaloniki by the American pharmaceutical company “Pfizer“, which received more than 16,500 CVs from all over the world for recruitment at the Center for Digital Innovation (CDI), which it created in the city. In fact, 15% of those hired are people who worked abroad and returned to Greece, precisely because they saw a new job prospect opening up in front of them.The above data were presented, from Thessaloniki, by Irene Paganopoulou, Director of Human Resources of Pfizer Hellas in Greece and Cyprus, speaking from the podium of the event “CDI Tech Career Days”, organized by Pfizer, with the aim of recruiting another 18 highly qualified people.
“For us it is a strategic goal to bring back the Greeks (scientists) who emigrated abroad”, actively contributing to the “brain gain” for Greece, noted Mrs Paganopoulou, who added that the company also wants to support in practice the entry of women employees in technology and today 35% of the CDI’s staff are women.
At Pfizer’s first and only Center for Digital Innovation in the world, which is based in Thessaloniki, more than 360 employees are currently working on eight cutting-edge fields: machine learning and Artificial Intelligence, software development and engineering, agile project management, entreprise architecture, Data Science, process automation, product and experience design, and customer analytics and insights.
“We do not just want staff, but we are looking for the best”, underlined Mrs Panagopoulou, pointing out the need to combine formal qualifications and soft skills in the face of ideal candidates, while she added that before the establishment of the CDI in Thessaloniki, Pfizer was known in Greece as a pharmaceutical company, but had to create a parallel identity, in order to highlight its role in the digital part and attract high-level employees in this field.
Internship program starts at CDI in July
In order to attract and select employees, five bootcamps (intensive training programs, lasting 4-5 weeks) and two hackathons (application development marathons) have been organized from August 2020 until today, in the context of which more than 150 people stood out and were hired.Mrs Paganopoulou also announced that next July it is planned to start – for the first time – in the CDI a six-month internship program, in collaboration with the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the University of Macedonia, in which five to ten people will participate annually.
The executives of the Pfizer Center for Innovation in Thessaloniki, have worked and have been currently working on more than 200 Pfizer projects around the world, as announced by the head of the CDI, Nico Gariboldi, who pointed out that Pfizer is in Thessaloniki thanks to the excellent level of human talent in the city, whose recruitment is growing rapidly: the first recruitment took place in May 2020 and the number of employees increased to 100 as early as January 2021 and to 300 in July of the same year. Mr. Gariboldi also pointed out that Pfizer’s drugs and vaccines had a positive impact on over 1.4 billion people in 2021, while adding that, potentially, another 95 drugs are currently under development as an equal number of research projects are running.
Jeff Hamilton: “One of the reasons Pfizer created the CDI in Thessaloniki is all of you”
The reasons why Pfizer chose Greece and especially Thessaloniki, for the installation of its first Center for Digital Innovation around the world, reiterated the company’s senior vice president of Finance, Global Procurement and CDI, Jeff Hamilton: “We chose Greece and especially Thessaloniki for several reasons. The first reason is all of you (he said, addressing the audience of prospective employees at the event), the exceptional human talent of the city. The second is the incredible innovative ecosystem and the third the strategic geographical position and the convenient time zone”, he explained and added that the operation of the CDI has a direct and indirect positive impact on Greece: directly with the creation of new job opportunities in critical sectors and indirectly through Pfizer’s synergies with local players, whether they are Startups or academic and research institutions. In addition, investments such as that of Pfizer help Greece to be on the global investment map, giving the message that it is a country with impressive human resources and positive growth prospects.