Edric Toro Espinosa is a senior from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico majoring in business & enterprise management (BEM) with a concentration in new business development. Over the summer, Toro Espinosa was a part of the inaugural Pfizer Breakthrough Fellowship Program, a 20-person program devoted to “enhancing our pipeline of diverse leaders.”
How did you become aware of the fellowship program?
So, I originally got an email from a professor at Wake Forest. In the business school, we have to do a summer internship between junior and senior year. So, there’s a lot of emails – everybody’s sending over opportunities. This professor sent it over to our counselor, and then she sent that email out to a few others. The breakthrough fellowship is for Latino, Hispanic, Native American and African- American people. So she sent it out to the people in my class that had those backgrounds, and that’s how I first heard about it. I had friends that got the email, and they just read through it and then didn’t even think about it. I needed a job, though.
So the opportunity just presented itself?
Yeah, I was looking for something that I was going to benefit from. My concentration is new business development, and I’m interested in going back home and growing my family business. I felt like I needed something that I could grow from or learn from prior to doing that. I needed my own ideals, basically, not my family’s. I wanted to experience something else so I could come back and contribute, and I saw this as a good opportunity. I got to learn from a huge company like Pfizer. Maybe some things are going to be different, but a lot of the things I learned can be translated into running a smaller company.
What was the focus of your work this summer? Was there a lot of marketing around the Comirnaty vaccine?
I worked in the market access operations department, which works on the access between Pfizer and its customers. So I worked with not only the COVID-19 vaccine, but also different companies, including Caremark (CVS). We were working to see how they get their prices, how they get their products, contracts and similar stuff.
Given everything you learned this summer, what do you think will be most applicable to your family business, or even your own business?
I feel like it was a very interesting summer. They put a lot of effort into the program–I had the opportunity to meet the executive board, which was really cool. I met with the CEO, Albert Bourla, and the CFO, Frank D’Amelio. We had weekly meetings with them, and that was very helpful. They shared their experiences, personal stories about how they grew up and their journeys, too.
The networking was really important. Just looking at how a big company prices something for their customers, especially something that the customer needs, like medication, was good to learn. Looking at that is going to be good for me, and I can translate that back to my father’s company and see how we’re doing.
What are your plans after graduation?
This is a nine-year fellowship program. It starts off with a 10-week internship in the summer, that’s the one I just did. After graduation, I would go right to work in New York for two years. And then after that, there’s a fully-funded Master’s program that the organization provides to us. We can go wherever we want to study while working the summer between the first and second year. Then we would return to the company for two more years. After that, if we want to stay there, we can– if we want to continue with our lives, we can do that, as well.
I think it was a great program. To be honest, at the beginning of the summer I was always set on going back home. At this point, I’m actually questioning myself. It was amazing to get into that world and be given this opportunity. Having this opportunity made me realize there is a part of me that might want to stay at Pfizer for a long time, and that’s something that I wasn’t expecting.
Do you believe that Pfizer did a good job giving opportunities to people of color in the business and corporate world?
Like I said, I feel like the program was great. The fellowship program began in 2021 with the goal to expand to 100 fellows by 2025. The program’s purpose is to bring people of color into the business world and really give them this opportunity. We get a free Master’s program on top of everything, and this whole experience is just an amazing opportunity. I feel like this isn’t something that a lot of interns get to do, so I think it’s a great opportunity. I’m really happy with it.
Editor’s Note: This interview was edited for brevity and clarity.