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Before 30 Years Old

Category: International Operations Business | 0 comments

“Before 30 years old, follow somebody. Go to a small company. Normally, in a big company, it is good to learn processing; you are part of a big machine. But when you go to a small company, you learn the passion, you learn the dreams. You learn how to do a lot of things at one time. So before 30 years old, it’s not which company you go to, it’s which boss you follow. That’s very important. A good boss teaches you differently.” – Jack Ma

Just in case you don’t know him, he’s the founder of Alibaba Group and one of the most successful businessmen in the world. When I was doing my masters, I had tons of time to watch his interviews and the quote above is probably one of my favorites.

So you might ask, if he said to go to “a small company”, why am I working for Novo Nordisk, one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world? Well, I asked myself that too almost 2 years ago!!!

Fast forward to today, I am on my final rotation in my 3rd country and I can answer the question already. Why am I working for Novo Nordisk and why I would recommend the IO Business Graduate Programme.

  1. “Go to a small company” – One of the best things of the IO Business Graduate programme which I only realized now is that you start in the affiliate. When I started, I felt sort of disappointed and bad that I needed to go back to the Philippines after doing my masters in 1st world countries. After enjoying the convenience and safety of 1st world countries, I had to go back to a 3rd world country once again. But you know what, once I figured out that the affiliate was actually growing in double digits, I felt relieved. It got me excited! Yes, Novo Nordisk is a big company globally indeed but in the affiliate level, it is still rapidly growing and it has a lot of challenges ahead. I knew then that the opportunities for learning would be great and in this stage of my career, that’s the perfect breeding ground. It is like joining a small company after all!
  2. You learn the passion, you learn the dreams. You learn how to do a lot of things at one time.” – As a graduate in the affiliate, you learn how to do a lot of things at one time. You may be assigned to a Marketing project but you also get to do some tasks related to Commercial effectiveness, Finance, Product supply, Medical Affairs, and sometimes, even changing the printer’s ink! It may sound absurd but that’s actually very interesting because you get to learn to do stuff that you wouldn’t expect. With that too, you get to interact with basically everyone in the office, from the General Manager to the kitchen assistant. If you are open enough, you get to know what makes them wake up early in the morning. You see things in a different perspective and you get to know their ambitions whatever it may be. Those interactions can teach you a lot as a young professional.
  3. it’s which boss you follow” – I have to admit after finishing my MBA, I felt like I knew everything in business. I was that “annoying know-it-all-I’m-too-good-for-you MBA person”. Yeah, I’m sure you know someone like that too and yes, they’re definitely annoying I must say! :D Back to my point, the graduate programme gives you the opportunity to interact with various kinds of bosses in the affiliate and in global. It gives you the opportunity to learn from them and network with them, you also get to have free advice from them on your life goals. They can provide you with good inputs on how to live your life and how to properly grow professionally. These valuable lessons and inputs would have costed thousands of dollars from consultants, but you get to have them for free, or maybe a cup of coffee (which can sometimes still be free too if there’s a coffee machine in the office!)
  4. “A good boss teaches you differently.” – In my first ever meeting with the General Manager of the Philippines back then, he told me, “don’t be afraid to make mistakes.” Throughout my experience in the graduate programme, that phrase has been repeated by all my direct managers. Being a graduate lets you do things that haven’t been done before, it lets you take risks without really worrying too much. If unsuccessful, the worst thing that can happen is that your boss will just ask, “So, what did you learn from it?” Of course, these risks still have to be calculated risks and it should still be within the bounds of the Novo Nordisk Way.
    On another note, I’ve always envisioned myself to be working in the global headquarters right after doing my masters. However, this ambition has changed a lot after the interactions I’ve had during the Market Access and Public Affairs summit.  Vice-Presidents, Directors, senior managers, and various product managers from all over the world were in Copenhagen for a 2-day summit which I was fortunately been invited too. Learning from their experiences and their best practices from their affiliates is probably one of the highlights of my rotation in Denmark. This experience has inspired me even more to work harder in improving patient access to our products.

MAPA summit

 

As a parting shot, I would like to share what my boss in Denmark told me as it’s definitely different from what I have been taught before, “People who walk with the most stars on their shoulders here in HQ are from the affiliates.”

 

Have a good day,

Paul

 

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