Pfizer launched Get Old in June 2012 to further its work on Imperative 3: Earn Greater Respect From Society. The goal is to inspire and activate people of all ages to reconsider what it means to get old and to change perceptions about aging at every stage of life.
Angela Pinto, a 52-year-old Training Manager in Global Commercial Operations (GCO) Europe based in Lisbon, Portugal, talks about making a career change later in life, her 91-year-old role model, and an innovative program she is leading in her community that connects isolated seniors with young people in need of student housing.
How do you feel you Break The Mold?
I have worked for the pharmaceutical industry for 22 years and have been with Pfizer for 10. I started out as a sales representative before moving into Marketing, Sales Training, Learning and Development, and Human Resources. Pfizer gives us very good training and opportunities to develop and grow … and to give something back to society.
I was in my late 40s when I decided the time had come to do something new and even more meaningful with my life. I am a working mother, but my daughter was growing up fast, so I realized that this was a great time to expand my horizons.
The first step was to get a new qualification – and Pfizer and my manager were very supportive, encouraging me to pursue a post-graduate course in leadership and management, and it changed my life. I didn’t just gain knowledge of business and economics, I also developed a great network of talented people across different industries. I was subsequently invited to join the university’s economics alumni board by an influential politician in Portugal. I am its only female member, and the only member without a degree in economics.
However, most importantly for me, it gave real life support to one of my dreams – to provide development opportunities to other people. Portugal is going through a serious socio-economic crisis, so I think it is important for all of us to support our society. I am a leader in a mentoring project that supports the development of young people entering the job market. We can gauge the success of this project by the fact that these mentees have now become successful professionals and in turn have become mentors themselves.
Whom do you admire and what have you learned from him or her?
Angela Pinto (l.), meets with members of her community at the first public presentation of her proposal for the elderly to provide housing to college students.
When I was young, I dedicated time in the university’s theater and was privileged to work with its founder, Jorge Listopad. One of the most inspiring things about this man is his youthful spirit. He is 91 and has Parkinson’s disease, but he’s still writing and recently published his latest book, “Remington.” He says that is possible because he has never stopped working, and because he gets so much of his energy from the young people he works with.
What challenges do you plan to take on next that defy preconceptions about age?
My next project is focused on joining older, isolated people in Lisbon with young students. Official estimations suggest there are around 85,000 elderly people (22 percent) living alone in the city without any family members to look after them, and many will die lonely and forgotten. At the same time, there are young people who are unable to pursue university degrees because they have nowhere to live or can’t afford to pay the rent. So we have a plan to put the two together – to find accommodations for students with older people living on their own. It has the potential to be a win-win.
I’m excited to report that our first meeting to present our proposal to the elderly people took place this month. We have a lot of work to do, so we are speaking to local government, social services, health centers, the church and others, to get their support. Even talking about this proposal at these levels, we will achieve a much higher awareness of the problems both generations are facing.