Skip to content
Log in
Early talent trends, Employer spotlights

Handshake Honor Roll winner: Pfizer’s Nancy Bruce

We’re thrilled to announce our Handshake Honor Roll 2023 winner: Nancy Bruce, Director of Pfizer’s US Early Talent Pipeline. 🎉

Agility, creativity, execution, and stakeholder management are at the core of Nancy Bruce’s leadership style. Today she is the Director of Pfizer’s US Early Talent Pipeline, but Nancy is proud to share how she started her journey at Pfizer as an HR intern 13 years ago. If anyone knows the power and value of early talent development—it’s Nancy!

Over her career journey with Pfizer, she’s managed roles across recruiting, operations, HR, and talent, transforming how Pfizer invests in their workforce to bring their corporate slogan ‘Breakthroughs that change patients' lives’ to life.

We sat down with her to learn how she’s tackling industry challenges, celebrating victories, and charting new career paths for early talent.

Tell us about Pfizer's early talent recruitment programs and biggest win this year?

Our team has 8 established programs from undergraduate to PhD, supporting various business units at Pfizer. Each program followed a similar recruiting process and yet offered unique experiences. As a team, we identified the best components of each program and created a unified experience. Ensuring all students and clients have a consistent, meaningful, and effective recruiting, onboarding, and summer experience is our biggest victory!

Alignment and consistency help my team focus on execution, data, and collaboration. As a result of collaboration, this year, the team hyper-focused on activating a social media strategy that has been fun and engaging for us and students.

As we approach fall recruiting, how is your team approaching your virtual versus in-person event mix?

Our team is preparing back-to-school strategies to reflect a hybrid approach. During the pandemic, we reached amazing students that we wouldn’t traditionally see on-campus-only. We’ve learned to truly lean into Handshake’s platform to identify students with the right academic background and experiences that are an ideal fit for our programs.

Handshake is our second-largest hiring source after employer referrals. The Handshake network is impressive, and we have the best account team to help us focus on attraction, execution, and metrics.

What other ways are you driving your team to be more successful?

Because campus recruiting runs on a very typical cycle, we’re learning how to work within the cycle — measuring the outcomes, documenting the metrics and success stories. Identifying challenges in real time helps us to work in a new agile way. Giving the team creative liberty to enhance the experience and reminding everyone to put themselves in students' shoes have been two of our team principals.

Our Handshake Account Team has served as our north star when we have identified challenges and want to try something new. I’ve personally leveraged them to gather insights, bounce ideas off of, and help reinforce trends, training, and processes. They kept me grounded during my first year in the role!

Would you like to spotlight someone on your team who’s used Handshake in new ways to help solve specific challenges?

Last year, as we prepared for post-pandemic campus recruiting, we identified and prioritized the need for a dedicated early talent events and technology enablement lead on my team.

We hired Joseph (Joe) Randolph, who has 10+ years of event and conference management experience. Joe has significantly transformed our event management and tech stack. He has increased tech utilization across our team, as well as with campus recruiting ambassadors within our company, and is bringing a level of excellence that we did not have previously.

Having a central point of contact and subject matter expert on how to utilize Handshake, how to create a meaningful event, and manage campus logistics and vendor relationships has lifted a significant amount of work from the individual program leads, resulting in their ability to focus on designing and implementing the recruitment strategy for their programs.

Speaking of technology, how is Pfizer investing in early talent to help drive innovation?

We have an amazing Digital Foundations Program led by my colleague, Tasha Caballero, and her team. The program is designed to foster an interest in technology with students in our local communities and increase Pfizer’s reputation as the employer of choice for talented and innovative technologists. This is an excellent example of how our business clients saw the value of early talent, prioritized and designed a fit-for-purpose program, and we have the opportunity to help them bring it to life.

How does early talent fit into the equation for organizations pursuing digital transformation?

I think we tend to think that digital talent only belongs in one part of a business group—specifically the IT department. But digital talent exists in all business units, and it’s really more of a transferable skill.

Building pipelines of talent, starting from middle school through high school up to college, is a big opportunity for organizations to invest early in digital talent and to be a part of a major workforce and skills transformation. For example, the Pfizer Digital Foundations Program is seizing the moment to invest in the local community as early as middle school.

What advice would you offer executives or leaders who are looking to improve their brand with early talent?

Leaders need to truly see the business value and cultural value of hiring early talent into their organization. Once this is solidified and prioritized, identifying pockets of the organization where early talent can add value and thrive is the first step, followed by designing fit-for-purpose recruiting, onboarding, and retention strategies.

Bringing the work, culture, and priorities to life in a creative and easy-to-interpret way is ideal for attracting talent.

To close out, can you share a favorite early talent success story?

Last year, my colleague and I attended the ALPFA conference and met the most talented and passionate freshman. We were so blown away by her enthusiasm, maturity, and commitment to wanting to learn more about Pfizer. She stayed in touch with us and the moment our internship program opened we created a project for her to join our team. Fiorella Rivera is a freshman at Steven’s Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ studying Marketing Innovation and Analytics.

In 12 very short weeks, she has transformed our intern program communications, engagement, and events. Some of my proudest moments were watching her interview our CEO in a fireside chat, host her first podcast interview and co-lead the design and production of an all-intern wellness session. Our entire team has learned so much from Fiorella, and we know she will be successful in life. We have already identified some cool projects for her next summer, however we may have competition as other teams are interested in working with her next summer!

Key takeaways

  • Nancy’s team is leading the charge in developing programs that make Pfizer the company of choice for early talent, especially those in the tech sector.
  • Pfizer has 8 early talent programs and focuses on internal alignment to drive consistent talent experiences.
  • Pfizer’s leaders identify pockets of the organization where early talent can add value and thrive, then design fit-for-purpose recruiting, onboarding, and retention strategies.
  • Handshake is Pfizers' second-largest hiring source after employee referrals.

Join us in congratulating Nancy on our social post here!

Read more interviews from our 2023 Honor Roll winners

🏆 Webber’s Chelsea Littleton (Russo)

🏆 Kiewit’s Doug McMann

🏆 PTC’s Joshua Bellis

🏆 Mastercard’s Amanda Wills

🏆 Elastic’s Roxy Wolfe

🏆 McCormick’s Vhonda Lewis

🏆 Aramark’s Leah Gleason

Recruit smarter with Handshake

Stay up-to-date on the latest early talent trends.