BRAVO Leadership Conversation: Carlos Murillo, Pfizer Latin America

The pharmaceutical executive talked with AS/COA's Susan Segal about lessons learned from the past two years, taking risks, collaboration, and more.


  • Carlos Murillo, Regional President, Pfizer Latin America
  • Susan Segal, President and CEO, Americas Society/Council of the Americas

“Human nature tends to show the best of itself in moments of trial,” said Carlos Murillo, quoting Gandhi to Susan Segal in their BRAVO Leadership Conversation. “I think what we’ve seen in the past two years is an example of that.”

A common refrain at the pharmaceutical giant is “making the impossible possible,” he said. So how did Pfizer do that? One key, said Murillo, was taking risks, specifically in vaccine development and manufacturing. In another time, Pfizer would do the development of medicines and vaccines in sequential order: Phase 1, followed by Phase 2, followed by Phase 3. Then once they had regulatory approval, they’d start manufacturing, Murillo explained. But that process takes years, time the world didn’t have with Covid-19.

“This time, the company assumed the risk and said we’re going to do things in parallel,” he noted. “So we did Phase 1 in parallel with Phase 2, Phase 2 with Phase 3. We started manufacturing the vaccine at risk even long before we knew it’d be approved, but it was the only way to be to be able to have the vaccine ready if approved. So the level of risk that was taken was really significant.”

Of course, producing the vaccines isn't the end goal—it’s about getting them in arms. And that takes collaboration. “We’re gonna be able to take advantage of new technology and the new frontiers it opens up, but only if the collaboration is there,” said Murillo. “That’s gonna change the way we approach health and health economies.” Segal concurred: “It's the most critical element as we go forward. If we really wanna leverage everything we’ve learned, it’s only going to be through collaboration.”

As for his own leadership personally, Murillo said one of the most important lessons that the pandemic reinforced for him was “the importance of being humble.” Contrary to what might be intuitive, “the more senior you are, you have to be more open and humble and be open to feedback,” he said. “Business doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game.”

Learn more about the 2022 BRAVO Leadership Conversations series.