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Real Humans of Pfizer: Alexa Ceballos, Emory Goizueta MBA ’20, Senior Manager, US Marketing

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There are so many facets to the healthcare industry — direct patient care, R&D, hospital management, sales, marketing, and more — that there are almost unlimited opportunities. In this edition of Real Humans: Alumni, we meet Alexa Ceballos, now a Senior Manager at Pfizer, who wanted to move from sales to a more strategic role in the healthcare business. Read on to find out how Emory Goizueta became her school of choice, owing to its location and strong marketing cohort, and how even today, Ceballos uses her coursework in her day-to-day.

Alexa Ceballos, Emory Goizueta MBA ’20, Senior Manager, Inflammation & Immunology, US Marketing at Pfizer

Age: 29
Hometown: Caracas, Venezuela
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Miami, Chemistry
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration (if applicable): Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, Class of 2020, Data Analytics and Marketing
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 3 years in pharmaceutical sales
Post-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 3 years in pharmaceutical marketing

Why did you choose to attend business school?
I chose to attend business school to be able to shift into more strategic/leadership roles. Although I enjoyed sales, I wanted to be more closely involved in managing a P&L. 

Why Goizueta? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Goizueta had a close-knit environment that I felt would be beneficial for me to get 1:1 face time with professors easily. Being in Atlanta (home of the CDC and other leading healthcare organizations) and adjacent to Rollins School of Public Health, I knew I would be able to build my business acumen while still being exposed to the healthcare space, which is where I wanted to stay. Additionally, I wanted to be with other students who had similar marketing interests, and at the time, there was a strong cohort moving into marketing roles post-graduation. 

What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
I am fortunate that even 3 years out of school, I continuously find use in strategy cases, discussions, consumer behavior lectures, and much of my leadership coursework as well. While I was at Goizueta I made sure to explore a breadth of class offerings, which has now proven useful to bring tidbits into a wide range of topics in my day-to-day work.

What was your internship during business school?  How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
During my summer, I interned at Pfizer, and it solidified my desire to re-enter the pharmaceutical industry in a marketing capacity. I was fortunate to receive an offer at the end of the summer and returned full-time in July 2020. 

Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
Having a strong rotational program was a leading factor for me. Specifically, I was interested in a tenured program that served as an accelerator within the company, while giving me the opportunity to explore multiple teams and network widely. Additionally, cultural fit was important. I wanted to be at a company that was aligned with my values and would allow me early on to take on challenging problems and own my work, which is exactly what I have found at Pfizer, even as an intern. 

How has COVID impacted your industry/career plans?
Fortunately, I was in an industry that did not experience some of the same impact, and was able to start my role in 2020 without any delays. 

Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
As a Consortium student, I had to prepare for recruitment before starting business school, which I would highly recommend. During the summer, I had the time to refine my stories, research companies, and spend significant time networking that I would have not had the time to do during my first semester. 

–One thing you would change or do differently?
I would have loved to spend more time doing projects for companies: During my time at Goizueta, I did two consulting projects (with Delta and Denny’s) which were extremely valuable. 

–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
Nothing specific comes to mind. 

–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
It’s okay to not know what you want to do, and explore different tracks to those around you. Being surrounded by many peers who were pursuing investment banking or consulting was tough in certain instances and even influenced me to interview at a consulting firm, which I knew was not the right fit for me. 

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.