Conversations with Edric Ting

By Eugene Goh and Lin Min Htoo

Edric Ting joined Pfizer in August 2010 as the company’s Regional Business Adoption Manager (Commercial). He went on to become the Senior Delivery Manager (Digital Solutions and Emerging Technology) in 2017, taking on his current role as the Digital Client Partner in January 2021. In his current role, he manages the operations and the digital strategy planning in Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia. 

Edric graduated from the National University of Singapore with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science in 2005. Additionally, he had spent a year at Stanford University in 2002 doing Management Science and Engineering courses.

My name is Edric Ting. I graduated from the NUS in 2005 with a Bachelor’s in Computer Science and a Minor in Technopreneurship. I had started my career in the IT industry at International Business Machines Corporation (IBM). For the last 11 years, I have been working within the biopharmaceutical industry at Pfizer. Currently, I am the Pfizer Commercial Digital Client Partner, previously known as the IT Head, for 3 countries – Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia.

I chose to work at IBM as I was drawn by its good company culture. The company has an amazing history of contributing to the advancement of technology, as well as serving clients from various other industries. IBM has hired and greatly valued skilled and smart people from diverse backgrounds. The leaders and managers there believe strongly in coaching and mentoring younger employees to help them learn quickly and excel at their work. I was lucky enough to be part of the “Team Blue Vitality Hire” programme which helped me master many of the important professional skills I still use today for work including critical thinking, active listening and consultative selling.

Pfizer is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world with excellent company culture and a history of more than 170 years. Pfizer is always evolving and transforming. It feels like I constantly have to get to know a new company with a new working style all over again. I found it quite fascinating that they even had a 5-year corporate culture transformation roadmap to evolve alongside modern human resources when I first started! 

We always have a clear vision and mission for our colleagues which helps them stay aligned with the overall direction of the company. Pfizer believes that every employee has their own strengths that empower them to contribute to the success of the company. The most important thing is that everyone understands the bigger picture and identify the areas that we are interested in driving, leading or participating in. Then, we set off to build or join our cross-functional teams and strive together to achieve the defined success that we had agreed upon with our organisational leaders. 

I have been very fortunate to have met and worked under wonderful leaders who gave me their time and energy in helping me hone my skills especially in business acumen and influencing without authority.

Consulting companies, in general, would provide you with the opportunities to grow in breadth and versatility; to serve many clients from different industries and needs. You get to quickly learn how different clients work, analyse and understand the context behind the business requirement, how to create value for your clients with proven methodology and creative thinking. 

On the other hand, non-consulting companies are industry-focused. Therefore you should pick companies that you have a strong interest in getting to know the business side of things. That will be a key aspect to help propel your growth in your career within that industry.

The best part is that I have been able to work remotely most of the time since many years ago! Information technology has indeed transformed the way we work, allowing virtual collaboration to be almost as effective as working in person. Of course, I still enjoy the personal interactions and the need to travel to meet my clients and partners. However, similar to most people, all that has changed after the pandemic had started.

Being a digital client partner entails managing operations as well as planning the digital strategy. Our stakeholders have diverse backgrounds including sales, legal, corporate affairs and many others. The main challenge is that not everyone is a fan of the latest technology and often, a change in mindset is required to kickstart the thinking and co-creation in the right direction. 

It is always important to anchor on meeting business needs based on a customer’s pain point to solve real-world problems. Technology must be applied not just because it is new or that you understand its technicalities well, but also because of how it can contribute significantly to solving the business problem in a more effective manner. 

Pfizer makes use of most emerging technologies including artificial intelligence/machine learning, blockchain, cybersecurity and data analytics as part of our innovative strategies.

My university education provided me with diverse exposure to different fields of study under the University Scholars Programme. I learnt how difficult it can be to be outside of your comfort zone as I had challenged myself to take on subjects outside of my core. It has also helped me in attaining critical thinking and writing skills, understanding human behaviour and different individual’s motivation behind certain thoughts or actions. 

The year in NUS College in Silicon Valley exposed me to a totally different culture and a vibrant environment of startups, entrepreneurs and investors. Studying at Stanford University also gave me interesting insights into entrepreneurial thought leadership, global entrepreneurial marketing, and new venture creation.

Pfizer has evolved a lot over the years since I had joined the company. It went from being a company with multiple diverse global business units including Animal Health, Nutrition, Consumer Healthcare and Established Products, and back to being a company that is innovation-focused. This is not only in our medical and scientific research breakthroughs, but also in the digital technology transformation across more than 120 countries where we operate in. 

The proudest moment I felt was when Pfizer, in partnership with BioNTech, announced the COVID-19 vaccine development. Big personal sacrifices had been made by many of our colleagues to ensure that we can create this outcome and breakthrough which had never been done before while still under strict compliance. 

Digital transformation was already placed as one of the top priorities for Pfizer even before the pandemic. However, the pandemic has expedited the adoption and made it even more critical for digital technology to enable the business to achieve the desired outcomes.

What is most important to me is that the work I’m doing is purposeful and benefits society positively and significantly. My personal purpose in working for Pfizer is to bring about breakthroughs that change patients’ lives. Working in Pfizer also gives me a lot of joy as I get to work with many colleagues globally who are open-minded to collaboration to achieve real outcomes not driven purely by profit but also by the desire to make a positive difference to the world and society. 

I make it a point to consciously set aside time to spend quality time with my family and for regular exercise sessions. I personally enjoy watching good shows, cycling, and practising taichi. I feel it is important to balance our commitments for both mental and physical well-being amid our busy lives.