Illustration credit: A.E. Kieren
At many companies innovation teams have been charged with disrupting models perceived to be outdated and/or stodgy. At Pfizer, however, innovators like Sewards approach their task with a different philosophy. “We think about it in the context of reinforcing our core model, which is developing medicines and connecting them with patients,” she explains. “It's less about disrupting existing models than about how new advances in technology, science or data can be applied to what we're already doing.”
In that sense, Sewards qualifies as an ideal innovation catalyst. She not only drives change within her own realm but looks to activate similar thinking within Pfizer's other business units. “I like to focus on the things that may be a little further out from day-to-day operations,” she says, pointing to a recent program around big data as a prime example.
“Biomedical knowledge has doubled—and will keep doubling due to the increased reliance on technology and new data sources,” Sewards says. “How do we use that to find the insights that will inform, say, R&D? These are big questions to answer.”