Roma Tretiak, BA 92, has built a career on cultivating strong relationships and building trust — which has served her well during her tenure at Pfizer. Today, she is the global compliance lead for Pfizer Global Supply (PGS) at the company’s international headquarters in New York City.
Straightforward, strategic and disarming all at once, Tretiak spends her time facilitating proactive, business-led quality and compliance risk management and governance. A critical component of this work includes supporting leadership in sustaining a strong culture of quality and integrity across the PGS organization.
“I’m proud to work at Pfizer, where our purpose is breakthroughs that change patients’ lives. We strive to set the standard for quality, safety and value in the discovery, development and manufacturing of health-care products,” she says.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the challenge for Pfizer, and our partner BioNTech, wasn't just developing a vaccine — we also had to make it. This was no small feat, especially when you consider that the companies were looking to do what would normally take five years in less than one. At Pfizer, we are committed to positively impacting global health and patients’ lives.”
Tretiak, a single mom of two and a former marathon runner accustomed to the long haul, still feels breathless from the determination and importance of it all.
She was not directly involved in the development or manufacturing of the vaccine, however, she expressed her deep commitment to Pfizer’s purpose and investment to the broader effort to make a positive impact to patients.
Valuable Co-op experience
Tretiak, 51, a volunteer for the Campaign for Concordia: Next-Gen. Now, grew up in Rosemère, Que., the third of four children. Her father was a chartered accountant, and her mother, a homemaker.
A self-described “good girl” who excelled in her studies, Tretiak joined Concordia’s Institute for Co-operative Education as a student in the Department of Economics, which she credits for giving her the tools to succeed in business.
There were the basic lessons, such as how to edit a resumé to more intangible things, like how to project confidence in interviews, to be still and really listen, and to speak with both authority and humility. Tretiak held four different Co-op jobs during her undergraduate years, when she learned to clearly define her objectives and deliver on them — helping her to show up with her best self in a professional environment every day.
And there was what would turn out to be one of the most important lessons of all — that you can’t always get what you want, but you still need to do the best you can, she says. Tretiak really wanted to work at one of the big banks, but was placed in a work program she had ranked her last choice that year — a job with the Women’s Bureau at Labour Canada.
“Today, I would consider it an opportunity, and as it happened, I had two wonderful mentors during my time there,” she says. “It’s a shame that we’re still working to ensure women have the same opportunities as men across various industries, and I’m glad that here at Pfizer, there is a strong focus on equity.”
After graduating from Concordia, Tretiak completed a master’s in health administration at the University of Ottawa in 1994. That same year, she moved back to Montreal to join a small consulting firm, where she worked for three years before Pfizer came calling. She spent two years at Pfizer Canada in Kirkland, Que., before moving to New York City headquarters in 1999.
‘There’s always something to learn’
Since the pandemic hit in March 2020, Tretiak has worked out of her home office. And true to the lessons she learned in her Co-op years, she has willingly, and happily, taken on whatever needs to get done, big or small, because she knows there is a need and that her contributions make a difference.
In a way, it could be her mantra: Focus on the solution, not on yourself. And her superpower? “Understanding diverse perspectives,” she replies.
“I have a very good bird’s-eye view of how things operate, and I take the time to ask questions and really understand. There’s always something to learn from every challenge, and if you walk away too early, you’ll always miss something.”