The #SandwichTogether group on LinkedIn has also seen help pour in for affected Pfizer employees from across industry

Group shot

Source: © Ivan Marziano

Ivan Marziano (second from left) and his team are supporting each other through redundancy

Last November, Pfizer announced plans to discontinue its Pharmaceutical Sciences Small Molecule capabilities at its Discovery Park location in Sandwich, UK, to consolidate the facilities at two primary sites, one in the US and one in India.

This decision impacted approximately 500 roles, more than half of the 940 people currently employed at the facility.

Research fellow Ivan Marziano was one of those to be made redundant, along with his entire team.

‘It was a set of very well interconnected teams that were affected,’ says Marziano, who marked his 25th anniversary at Pfizer on 1 January. ‘It’s always a very shocking thing to hear and it takes a lot of time to process,’ he adds. ‘I’m still on my first job – I started working for Pfizer initially as a contractor a week before I had my PhD viva and I’ve been here ever since.’

The news was met with an immediate outpouring of support from the scientific community. At the time of the announcement, Marziano was in a large external meeting and describes the response as ‘amazing’.

‘The news hit the mainstream press straight away so people were aware of what was going on. There were a number of academic and industrial institutions at the meeting that we were in who wanted to help as much as possible.’


Another colleague attending that same meeting was Rohan. Rohan, who was also informed that his job was at risk, had the spontaneous idea of setting up a hashtag and group – #SandwichTogether – on LinkedIn to enable the wider scientific community to support those affected.

Growing up in what he describes as a ‘financially humble background’ in India, Rohan said that in his experience, people affected by adversity tend to help each other. ‘It’s a natural instinct,’ he explains. ‘It became my coping mechanism.’

‘I thought, “I need to be with people to feel that I’m not alone in this”, so I created the hashtag and invited my friends, they invited their friends … and now we have so many people in that group,’ he adds.

The group now has around 440 members and hundreds of posts highlighting vacancies and new opportunities have been shared using the hashtag, as have offers of support to help with skills such as CV writing, networking and interview preparation.

‘It’s fantastic to get that this this level of support from the wider community, but also it sends a message of hope,’ says Marziano.

Recruitment opportunities

Rohan said he really started to see the advantages of the group when recruiters began to ask to join the group. One of these was Reiss McNally, co-founder of Molecular Search, which specialises in recruitment for contract development and manufacturing organisations. McNally says he felt a sense of responsibility to highlight the roles his organisation had available.

Although he had seen similar hashtags being used before, none had had the longevity of #SandwichTogether. ‘I think because it’s on a larger scale, there is a lot more collaboration and people are asking “how do we support the community?” outside of just saying, “good luck, hopefully you obtain a role”.’

McNally said that those working at Sandwich have a breadth of experience that a lot of companies would value. He recommends that those who have been made redundant ‘try to ignore the negative connotations of being made redundant and focus on the unique skill set that you have because you’re going to be an asset to another business straightaway’.

I look at the colleagues around me and think “organisation X will be very lucky to have you”

Ivan Marziano


It is this kind of outlook that has been key to Marziano and his team when considering the future.

‘Without a clear sense of direction, or an understanding of what the opportunities are, it can be very easy to get yourself in a slump,’ he says.

‘I have 500 colleagues who are affected by this process and the first question that springs to mind is, where are the 500 of us going to end up? This helps colleagues to think about their next career steps … and having that knowledge of what’s out there can help catalyse some thoughts in that direction.’

‘I look at the colleagues around me and think “organisation X will be very lucky to have you”,’ Marziano continues. ‘We are ultimately looking for that win-win situation – part of it is the support of the community [which], from a humane perspective, has been amazing, but let’s not forget that there are also business advantages here, because you are dealing with incredibly competent and well-trained scientists.’

Rohan says he is not surprised by the response to the hashtag because it reflects the positive attitude and culture already in existence at the Sandwich site. ‘We help each other a lot,’ he says.

‘If I find a job that is suitable for me, as well as my colleagues, and if I share it with my colleagues, then I compete with them instead of competing with people who are unknown. And then if one of us gets it we can facilitate others getting suitable jobs in that organisation.’

Marziano says the hashtag has helped to promote a sense of collective ownership.

‘The community was shaken up … but since then, [#SandwichTogether has] just snowballed. It’s a powerful mechanism to show how much impact social media can have in a constructive way.’