Paul Brozena began his career at Pfizer in 1969 when he joined the Pfizer Labs division and worked in Pharmaceutical sales. From day to day, he was responsible for contacting physicians, hospitals and pharmacies in the northern part of New Jersey.
Passionate about the work he was doing, Paul remained in sales for many years. He worked his way up and at the time of his retirement in 2003 he was a Senior Cardiovascular Sales Consultant. He always found his job to be rewarding, and fondly recalls career highlights. “Back in the late 80s, they created the first specialty sales division at Pfizer. It was the cardiovascular group and I was one of the original 24 sales people that came into it,” he says with a hint of pride in his voice.
“We covered the entire United States and we interacted with key cardiovascular opinion leaders, such as Chiefs of departments of Cardiology and Nephrology at medical schools and universities. It was very exciting work! One of our jobs was to develop and monitor some clinical trials for the company’s cardiovascular products. That was incredibly rewarding and enlightening.”
Paul points to a specific activity for one of the projects he worked on as something that was particularly memorable and gratifying on a very human level. “One of the things we did at that time was for Pfizer’s first calcium channel blocker, Procardia XL, for the treatment of angina and high blood pressure. As part of an angina and hypertension study, I had to read the diaries of patients who were enrolled in our studies. I could read in their own handwriting and gain insight as to what they were going through and how our product was relieving their medical symptoms. For me, that truly highlighted how important our work was.”
Paul spent the majority of his career specializing in the cardiovascular field, so it only makes sense that since his retirement, he’s been spending much of his time on activities near and dear to his own heart – most notably spending time with family and traveling.
“My wife, Marion, and I adore spending time with our four beautiful grandchildren that we have from our two amazing daughters. We get to do some babysitting and watch them grow! But when we’re not watching the kids, we love to travel,” he says, pauses to think, and then continues with more emphasis, “I mean, we LOVE to travel!”
And Paul isn’t kidding. He and his wife try to take one big vacation (3 to 4 weeks) a year followed by shorter trips throughout the year. Their list of favorite places they’ve traveled to is impressive – including Bora Bora and the Society Islands of French Polynesia, Africa and mystical places such as Machu Picchu in Peru and Angkor Wat in Cambodia. They also enjoy seeing our own great country as well.
“We have a phenomenal national parks system here in the U.S. and we introduced that to our children early on as we’ve always loved to travel. There’s just something extra satisfying about exploring and enjoying the experiences of other cultures. And of course one of our all-time favorite spots, as a couple, is Paris. We’ve been there 6 times!” remarks Paul with a hardy laugh.
“If you ever get the chance, you’ve got to walk down the Champs-Élysées and then stand on one of the bridges that crosses over the river Seine to watch the river barges go up and down. It’s great for people watching, there’s nothing else like it… it’s a romantic city and no better place to go with your wife!”
It was Paul’s wife who had the idea for their most recent adventure – a trip that has earned its place on their travel list as one of the most unique locations they’ve visited – and a place they’d return to without a second thought. In February of this year, Paul and his wife made the long journey to Antarctica for a 16-day expedition.
“We were away for a total of 23 days and spent some time in Buenos Aires, Argentina, both before and after the expedition. That made packing for the trip a bit of a dilemma! There were weight restrictions because of how we’d be traveling on small planes, and we had to pack for two extremely different climates, but we managed just fine. From Buenos Aires we traveled to Ushuaia, which is the capital city of the Argentine province of Tierra del Fuego and the southernmost city in the world. We boarded the expedition ship there and began our Antarctic excursion.”
During the next 16 days, Paul and his wife, along with the other 132 passengers onboard, traveled a total of 3,407 nautical miles – all the while learning about the land they were exploring.
“The expedition staff onboard consisted of two naturalists as well as a marine biologist, an environmentalist, a climatologist, geologist and even a historian. Other than seeing the sights, there was a lot of information imparted to us. We basically had two lectures a day from the scientists and historian. It was incredibly enlightening.”
Enlightening… and breathtakingly beautiful, adds Paul. “The colors of blue in the sky and ice on some of the days we were there were just indescribable. And also the beauty of the indigenous wildlife, especially the Emperor Penguins. I’ve never seen anything like them. One of the naturalists onboard estimated the number of penguins in one bay we visited to be upwards of 500,000. It was simply incredible.”
Paul commented that one of the things that he found most fascinating, and respectful, was the handling of going ashore. “Every time we set foot on the continent, we did so in ‘wet landings,’ meaning a Zodiac boat would take us from the ship to the beach and we’d have to throw our legs over the side of the boat and trudge through the freezing water… of course we had boots on! Boots were provided by the expedition so we didn’t get wet. What I found most interesting, and wonderful at the same time, was that we had to step into a bucket of disinfectant before leaving the ship and then again when we returned.
They didn’t want any debris to be transferred to the unspoiled land. At one port we were even vacuumed! It’s just remarkable that the land is held in such high regard. I think that’s wonderful and it’s a lesson we should all learn and apply to our own native lands.”
Paul said he’d go back to Antarctica in a heartbeat, but it’s certainly not a place for everyone. “If you’re the type of person who likes to go lounge in a deck chair, Antarctica won’t be your cup of tea! It was amazing to experience but it’s a very inhospitable environment. It was cold and there were icebergs everywhere, so numerous that we named several icebergs after our grandchildren. We were surprised there wasn’t more snow falling, but then again it is their summer. In fact, we returned home to New Jersey amid more snow falling than we saw during the entire time we were in Antarctica! I had to get the snow-blower out and clear the driveway the very next day. Imagine that!”
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