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How and why I became a Graduate, Step-by-Step

Category: Global Marketing | (0) comments

Novo Nordisk Graduates, 2015-2017

Dear reader,

My name is Nicolas, and I am Global Marketing Graduate at Novo Nordisk.
Throughout the next 4 months, I will be posting 7 blog entries to tell you what I believe is most important for you to know before pursuing an opportunity at Novo Nordisk. These will include:

1) The why’s: Why Novo Nordisk? Why not? Why me? – December 1st
2) My considerations before handing in my CV, Resumé and Video Application – December 7th
3) The bright and exiting future ahead – December 14th
4) To begin a life changing career – December 21st
5) The Interviews – January 4th
6) A (very) steep learning curve – February 1st
7) My GRC adventure – March 1st

This way, I will be taking you through my journey, step-by-step, from being a Master’s thesis student to becoming a Graduate at Novo Norisk.

For now I will leave you with a cliffhanger: I am extremely happy and grateful to be part of this company, and you will not regret applying for an opportunity here.

If you are curious to know more about me, you can find more info either on LinkedIn or Facebook.

Happy Hunting!
/ Nicolas

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Global Marketing Graduate: What could the first rotation look like? Vol. 2

Category: Global Marketing Uncategorized | (2) comments

I decided to follow in the footsteps of my friend and colleague Jess and write a few lines about what you do as a graduate.

Unlike Jess who works in a department that works across all functions in Global Marketing, I am a part of a unit that is much more directly related with certain brands in our portfolio. Without going into the same detail on specific tasks as Jess, I nevertheless hope this will help you create a picture of what I do around here.

In short, I work mainly on two products that are in a different stage in their life-cycle.  The first one is a product that we are currently launching in different markets. Since we are in the launching phase, Global Marketing have two main responsibilities. The first one is to support the different affiliates to successfully launch and secure uptake in the market. This includes providing the right tools and guidance based on the different market conditions as well as alignment of best practices.   Secondly, we work closely with different organizational functions to ensure the whole process from production to market runs as smoothly as possible for example by handling sales forecasts and securing necessary marketing activities post launch.

The second product I am working with is one that is still in a pre-launch phase which means that the product has not yet hit the market. The projects we work on in relation to this product are obviously dictated by the fact we are still far away from launching the product. So what are we actually doing with a product that has not yet been marketed? Well, in essence we are building a new product and a brand from A-Z with all the details and steps that go into that process. The goal is to build a foundation on which the future success of the product will be based. At this stage in the process the team is working on things like future strategy, launch preparedness and various market research projects which all are pillars in the foundation.

So, this a very high level overview of what kind of projects I work with on a daily basis. Please, however, keep in mind that as I described in my last post the possibilities are close to endless, so your rotation in Global Marketing might look completely different. The bottom line is that you will be working on exciting and interesting projects with highly qualified colleagues.

Good luck with your application!

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What will you gain from joining a Graduate Program?

Category: Global Finance Global Marketing International Operations Business International Operations Finance | (8) comments

The Pharmaceutical Industry

Firstly, you will have the chance to work in the dynamic pharmaceutical industry. I find the industry interesting for two reasons. The first reason is the several different components that need to be in sync for a company to be successful. Due to the nature of the products Novo Nordisk produces it is essential that collaboration is carried out effectively at all times.  I have seen this on several occasions, but it is never more evident than when leading up to a product launch. It is immensely interesting to see several different departments seamlessly working together to ensure the successful entry of a product into a market.  Secondly, the pharmaceutical industry is rapidly changing due to technological advancements, aging populations, scientific breakthroughs and economic factors. Each element will have different effects on the industry but I believe these elements will lead to particularly interesting innovations, strategies and tactics. I personally look forward to observing the changes in the industry and being part of a few of them.

International Experience

Majority of the graduate programs offered include a rotation or rotations abroad. This provides you with a global working experience. This adds to your CV and helps you build a more comprehensive view of the world.  I already relish the experience of working in a multicultural affiliate on a daily basis and have definitely grown as a person due to it over the last few months. It has given me an opportunity to improve my communication skills, which I must admit I thought were much better than they actually were. It has also given me the opportunity to deepen my understanding of different cultures. So far I have interacted and worked with individuals from Denmark, Turkey, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Namibia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, India, Algeria, Spain, Australia, Tanzania, Uganda & Botswana.  I know my first and second rotations abroad will enhance my skills, challenge my views and enlighten my global outlook.

Multifaceted Working Experience

The graduate programs aim to provide an individual with a profound understanding of Novo Nordisk as a company and its business. Each program differs in its area of focus, however through the rotations: projects, roles and responsibilities will change. This will occur in a different department or therapy area and affiliate/business area. I personally feel this will be hugely beneficial because at the end of the program an individual will have had the experience of 3-4 different working environments. This provides an individual with the opportunity to enhance their cultural skills, communication abilities and increase their capacity to adapt.  These are crucial skills to have in any global industry today.

The “Good Feeling” (I’m sure your perplexed please keep reading)

My initial view of the pharmaceutical industry was not very positive mainly due to the negative articles and news pieces I read as a high school & university student. Prior to making the decision to apply for one of the graduate programs I conducted research through the website and several news sources. I was pleasantly surprised to see what projects/campaigns Novo Nordisk is involved in and the respectable manner in which it conducts its business. Novo Nordisk, through its projects/campaigns helps provide treatment to children with type 1 diabetes, increase access of insulin to the base of the pyramid and train doctors on treating diabetes effectively.  In addition to this Novo Nordisk established the World Diabetes Foundation and the Novo Nordisk Haemophilia Foundation.  The Triple Bottom Line is the way Novo Nordisk conducts its business. The company understands that it is important to behave in a manner that takes into consideration financial, environmental & social factors.  It feels great to work for a company that constantly gives back to society and provides help using its expertise. It feels even better to know that the company wants to ensure that its activities do not negatively affect the markets it operates in.

If you would like to gain all of this and more apply here.

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Global Marketing Graduate: What could the first rotation look like?

Category: Global Marketing | (1) comments

“The areas of expertise where you will gain invaluable experience include:

  • Product strategy development and implementation
  • Product positioning and branding
  • Product development, launch or withdrawal
  • Market research and analysis
  • Forecasting and pricing strategy
  • Conference exhibitions and symposia
  • Promotional material and communication
  • Communication strategy and implementation


Now, this is what one encounters on the official page of the Global Marketing graduate programme. Quite broad, huh? My graduate buddy from the 2014 Global Marketing batch, Arnar, has made a crisp post elaborating on these areas here, and let me try with this post to dig yet one step deeper in specifying what the tasks of a Global Marketing graduate could concretely look like – drawing on my experiences from the first five months in the programme.

Before getting into describing what my working days look like, let me briefly explain what department I am spending my 1st rotation in. My department is called Sales and Marketing Excellence, and I can best describe it as an in-house consulting unit – a very project-based department, focusing on advancing Novo Nordisk’s sales and marketing capabilities globally.

Now, enough talking already, what do I actually do? During the first five months I have been supporting primarily two projects:

Hospital Relations Management

  • Project in brief: Excelling at hospital relations management is what this project is ultimately about. This field is quite interesting, as it deals with multiple stakeholders on two levels. On the one side, pharmaceutical companies have employees from various functions working with hospitals, which in essence requires careful coordination. But more importantly, hospitals too consist of a multitude of stakeholders, ranging from purchasers, pharmacists and hospital management to specialists, nurses and internists (to name a few). The task is to optimize the way we service these stakeholders, enhancing the value we provide them with.
  • International scope: Based in the global HQ, the project is being implemented in key affiliates around the world. I have supported an implementation in a European affiliate last fall, and this year I will most likely be supporting another implementation, possibly outside of Europe this time.
  • What is my role: This is my main project for this rotation, and I get to spend a lot of time on the different sub-projects related to the overall project. I work together with my project manager. This setup has two key advantages in my view: (1) As it is just the two of us working on this project, my role is central and I get to try a lot. (2) Since I am working directly with a project manager with several years of experience with the topic, I learn not only from trial and error, but also get to jump a few steps on the ladder, as he can give me valuable advice along the way.
  • My tasks include: process-optimisation through facilitating cross-functional collaboration, hospital strategy development, segmentation, local market adaptation, etc. I have been using in-depth interviews to gather information on affiliate-setup, Excel to develop structured ways of capturing and sharing knowledge, and a lot of PowerPoint to build templates for internal capability assessment, strategy planning and information sharing. Aside from this, I get valuable experience in collaborating with external vendors as part of the project.


Project Picture

Picture from the last days of project implementation in European affiliate. After a few days with an empty room, PowerPoint and Excel templates quickly filled all the walls, so we could discuss our latest versions with the European affiliate’s team members when relevant.


Internal Marketing Academy

  • Project in brief: Excelling at marketing strategy in Novo Nordisk. Novo Nordisk recruits new employees all the time, and these come with different backgrounds and have been schooled at different universities. This project exists as an internal marketing academy to make sure that the way we develop and implement strategies is up-to-date and consistent throughout the organisation (so for instance we don’t work with 37 different ways of doing strategy planning).
  • International scope: Training courses are made available to the entire organisation – across boundaries. Main tasks are handled from our department in Denmark.
  • What is my role: For this project I have been supporting the execution of both physical and virtual workshops, assisting the two project leads.
  • My tasks include: Assisting with practicalities for setting up global workshop, capturing the learnings from participants in various trainings (through setting up and distributing online surveys and tests), and developing training material. Tools I have been using for this include PowerPoint and a programme called Articulate Storyline. Also, this project has given me a great opportunity to participate in the workshops myself.


Picture taken after one of the workshops from the internal marketing academy that sits in my current department. International team with participants from all over the world.

Picture taken after one of the workshops from the internal marketing academy that is managed in my current department. International event, and here with my energetic and good-humored team with participants from all over the world.


Now, I know my Icelandic graduate colleague, Arnar, is dealing with other interesting areas in his first rotation, but without detailing these, I hope this post has given you a better idea of what everyday tasks a Global Marketing Graduate can be facing in his/her first rotation.

If you at this point are interested in applying for the Global Marketing programme, find the direct link here and send us your tailored application with a clear motivation before the deadline, February 8. Happy application work :-)


All the best,

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What kind of tasks are there in Global Marketing?

Category: Global Marketing | (2) comments

Applying for a graduate program is different from applying for a more conventional position in many ways. One difference is the fact that there isn´t a fixed job description when you apply for a graduate program. This might scare some away since they fear getting tasks that are not in line with their skillset or interest. However, I can assure you that there is room and need for a wide variety of competences within Global Marketing at Novo Nordisk.

One of the exciting things about pharmaceutical marketing is the relative complexity compared to many other industries. This results in incredibly diverse functions and vastly different tasks within the department that fits most, if not all types of marketers. To prove my point, I would like to provide you with a helicopter view of some of the different teams and opportunities within the department.

There are a number of people working on managing our products both pre and post launch. However, the tasks of different teams can vary greatly for various reasons. These factors can for example be different stages in the life-cycle, focus markets and conditions, disease state of patients, different product benefits and many more.

If you are not keen on working directly with the brands there are plenty of exciting things going on. If you like to work with numbers or in research, there is a group of very qualified people handling various market analysis, forecast and market research. Market Access is another exciting function where people work on making our products available to patients around the world.

On top of this, there are other functions that work across brands on more specialized tasks. These teams work for example on things like public relations, customer events, digital marketing and improving our practices across the whole department.

As you can see there are a lot of different tasks requiring different knowledge and skillsets. Now I don´t want you to think that you are going to be able to pick and choose where you will land since that is decided by management based on what is believed to be a good fit based on your education, experience and personality. However, there is no need to worry about being placed in a team or a function where you are not qualified since that really would not make sense for anyone.

In conclusion, there are very many avenues one can take when joining a company like Novo Nordisk and there is both room and need for different kinds of marketers. If you are interested in joining Global Marketing to take on some of the exciting challenges we face, please apply.

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A-Z (minus Y) of all your FAQs

Category: Business IT Business Processes European Business Management European Finance Global Finance Global Marketing Product Supply R&D Global Development R&D Regulatory Affairs | (17) comments

Apologies in advance, as this is a pretty long post that has completely abused the ‘recommended blog post length’ we were advised. However, I will throw it out there and say I think I have managed to find answers to all of your questions (I am using the word ‘all’ very loosely here, as I am sure you will come up with more I will happily answer). Also, I have tried to give some examples of what I did in my application to guide you.

Academic background: I studied *Insert cool science Masters or PhD* can I apply to the programme?

From Analytical Chemistry to Zoology all Natural Science based Masters and PhD students are welcomed with open arms to apply for the programme. However, please note that you must be graduating with your Masters or PhD this year or have recently graduated – no more than 1 year since you have graduated.

Birthplace: I was born on Mars, do you have to be Danish to apply?

I too was born on Mars and made the programme, so fear not, being Danish is not a pre-requisite.

CV: My CV is x pages long, is that too long? Photo on CV – Yay or nay?

Regarding CV length you should really try and ensure it is no longer than 2 pages long. It’s great that a lot of you have amassed an impressive amount of lab based skills or have been first and/or co-author on several publications, but this is not a pre-requisite for the programme. A clear, concise CV will facilitate the reviewers matching your skills and experience to what they are looking for. In addition, a portrait picture is welcome if you like; I didn’t add one as I didn’t want to confuse the reviewers into thinking Whoopi Goldberg was applying.

Daily activities: What sort of exciting Regulatory Affairs (RA) activities will I be doing?

I want to take this opportunity to redirect you to the first blog post of the other RA graduate, Annika – here and that of a former RA graduate – here. Don’t forget to come back here though, as we are only at letter D :)

Expat life: I heard that Denmark was voted the happiest Country in the world, so will I be super happy all the time here?

You heard right, Denmark generally tops the happiest country polls. I mean, I am super happy here but I get super happy (not even just normal happy) eating my favourite chocolate bar (FYI it’s Milky Way), so I may not be the best person to ask. Sheng, a graduate on the International Chinese Graduate Programme is a more reliable source and covers it wonderfully here.

Family : Can I bring my partner?

Why of course

Grades: On a scale of Kim Kardashian to Einstein, how important are grades?

Grades are assessed as part of your application, yes, and we are looking for candidates with good grades but honestly don’t be put off by the ‘Top 5% in class’ part some of you may have read. If you fulfill the basic qualifications (scroll down to Qualifications) you are in with a shot. The take home message on this one is that grades play a factor, but what is more important is your motivation to work in RA and transferable skills/experiences you can bring to the table.

Housing: Is accommodation offered as part of the programme? Do I have to find it myself?

We have a fantastic relocation partner that will offer you accommodation with another graduate (you will have to pay rent) and usually graduates are all placed near each other. For example, in the block of apartments I live in there are 6 graduates. I nearly forgot to mention, if you prefer to live by yourself  the relocation team can arrange that too.

International rotation: I would love to live and work in the Maldives, do I get a say on where my international rotation will be?

No, we didn’t get a say, so bear in mind that you have to be flexible around this. Nonetheless, we’re off to pretty awesome places: myself to the States and Annika to Vietnam. Furthermore, previous RA graduates have been sent to Brazil, Japan, the UK (love that place) and India.

Job Prospects: Being a graduate sounds like a lot of fun, but what happens after the two-year programme?

Upon successful completion of the programme you will be offered a permanent position within one of the departments based in our Danish Headquarters

Keep positive: I applied all the way back in December, but I still haven’t heard anything. Have I been unsuccessful?

No, relax, as we won’t start contacting applicants until after deadline (8th Feb). Also, all applicants successful or not will hear back from us.

Language: I speak about as much Danish as I do Ancient Greek, will this be a problem?

You and me both, oh and no this won’t be a problem as English is the business language, so if you’ve mastered that it’s a piece of cake.

Motivational Letter: I have a gazillion questions about the motivational letter, such as word limit, format, structure etc etc.

This one is a hot topic amongst you and was the thing I stressed about too. I will now shut up on the matter as Annika has just written a fantastic blog post addressing all your motivational letter related questions; I would strongly advise you check it out here.

Numbers hired: I heard through the grapevine the ratio of applicants:positions is actually crazy, so how many people do you take on?

You heard right, the ratio is a little crazy and last year approx 720 people applied and only two of us got selected. Don’t be put off by this though, in submitting an application you have absolutely nothing to lose and absolutely lots to gain. In addition, you may be happy to hear that this year we will be hiring 4 of you.

Other Documentation: Apart from my CV, motivational letter and grade transcript what other documentation should/could I upload?

I would say anything of interest that helps us build an even greater more rounded picture of you, whether that be an amazing reference you received or a really good grade on a piece of coursework. I was really random with one of the documents I sent as it was a newspaper cutting of me talking about the dance classes I then attended, bearing in mind this newspaper cutting was dated around 2004!!!

Pharmaceutical Industry: Damn, I have no Pharmaceutical experience. Does this mean I will be at a disadvantage?

Certainly not, if you have experience within the Pharmaceutical industry that is great. If you don’t, that is fine as there are RA graduates hired that didn’t have any either. More importantly, just highlight in your application why you would want to work in the Pharmaceutical industry

Qualifications: What are the basic qualifications for the programme?

  • Recent Natural Science Masters degree/PhD
  • Good grades
  • International experience/mind-set
  • Relevant Work experience (scroll down to Work Experience for more on this)

Recruitment Process/Timeline: Okay, so I have applied, what happens next?

All applicants are assessed twice and following deadline roughly 25 applicants will be shortlisted for Skype interviews, which take place around mid February. Next, 10 successful applicants will be invited to the Graduate Recruitment Center (GRC) at the end of March, which is a two-day event held in Copenhagen, where applicants are assessed in a series of exercises. Furthermore, prior to the GRC the 10 selected candidates will be invited to complete some online tests in early March. Finally, following the GRC, 4 candidates will be offered graduate positions to start September 1st 2015.

Salary: I heard its crazy expensive to live in Denmark and I don’t want to be poor, so do we get paid?

Denmark can be an expensive place to live (my jaw hit the floor when I heard how much I would get taxed here -FYI its around 42%). In saying that, you will get paid a competitive salary that will ensure that poorness is not on the cards

Training: What sort of training would I receive as a graduate?

I will go into more detail about this in my next post, nevertheless,  most training is on-the-job, but we also offer a lot of internal courses and the opportunity to attend external courses.

University: Does the university I have attended matter?

No, so long as you haven’t attended ‘The University of Life’.

Visa: Will I have to sort out my Visa/Work Permit myself?

No, we have a fantastic mobility team that initiates this process, co-ordinates it with you and pays for it.

Work Experience: What and how much work experience is required?

Regarding ‘what’, we look at all your interesting work experience undertaken RA related or not. If it’s RA related, great tell us more. If it ‘s not RA related, that’s fine (I had no RA related experience before I joined), just try and tie it in somehow to why you want to apply for the RA programme. The key here is that you need some form of work experience to apply , as having none will unfortunately most likely mean you are unsuccessful. Regarding, ‘how much’  generally we want applicants with no more than one years work experience following completion of their Masters or PhD studies. This takes into consideration those of you who may have conducted work experience for a few months here or there during your studies. All in all, this is reviewed as a case-case basis but generally if you have lots of work experience following your bachelors degree and then complete your Masters or PhD studies or you have more than 4-5 years work experience it will almost certainly make you overqualified. The reason is that the programme is structured towards bringing fairly unskilled people up to speed really fast, and grouping very unskilled people with more experienced people makes it very hard to do a meaningful programme for everyone. With 4-5 years of experience and a strong CV you will most likely be eligible to apply for a normal job in Novo Nordisk, here.

Xtraordinary (I had to cheat on this one): What can I do to make my application extraordinary and stand out from the competition?

Sorry to disappoint, but there is no clear-cut answer for this one. I remember when I was applying I read an interesting bit of advice on the blog of another graduate (sorry I can’t remember the post), stating ‘think about what makes you unique and express that in your application’. As cheesy as it may sound I said helping people in my application, as I had done a lot of volunteer work. I then tied this in with the notion that I found helping people a quality that makes employment meaningful to me and to wanting to help people suffering with Diabetes. I’m not sure if this made me stand out as such, but it was something I tried to have in mind. So, get thinking, what makes you stand out? We would love to hear it!

Zzzzz  (It’s always a struggle to come up with a relevant word for Z): Will I work insanely long hours that will leave me chronically tired?

No, I very much doubt it as you are contracted to 37 working hours. Yes, you will sometimes have to log onto your laptop in the evening to prepare something for a meeting you have the following day, or write a blog post on a Sunday evening, when really you should be in bed watching new episodes of American Dad. However, I am a firm believer in work hard and play harder.

If you are reading this, it means you made it to the end of this post. Congratulations are in order, as it was a lengthy one (I did warn you in the beginning)

Still in two minds as to whether to apply? Well take this quick test here to put your mind at rest.



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Your Cover Letter: Make It or Break It

Category: Business IT Business Processes Chinese International Graduate Programme European Business Management European Finance Global Finance Global Marketing Global Procurement International Operations Business International Operations Finance Product Supply R&D Global Development R&D Regulatory Affairs | (40) comments

As the application process has now been open for some time, the reviewing process is in full swing and one of the main weaknesses of some applications are the cover letters (also called motivational letters to avoid any confusion).

So I thought I would share some pointers on what we look for in a cover letter. Please take these only as guidance and not requirements for being successful in the application process (apart from points 1 and 2 that are essential).

Key Points to consider when writing your cover letter:

1. Mention the company and SPELL it right.

Each programme gets hundreds if not thousands of applications and if Novo Nordisk does not even appear it screams not interested.

2. Mention the programme you are applying to.

As for the point above we want to see that you are interested in what the company offers and have taken the time to write a cover letter for the programme and are not sending the same one to all companies.

3. Talk about specific aspects of the programme you like.

An expansion on point number 2. Try to show tat you have read all the information available on the programme and have thought about what you think makes it special and a great match for you.

4. Do not just repeat your CV.

Your cover letter and your CV will both be read so there is no point in providing us with the same information in both. Use your cover letter to showcase your interest, motivation and fit to the programme.

5. Do not dwell on scientific techniques.

In RA the majority of applicants have a scientific background (which is great and what we are looking for) but you will not use the lab techniques in RA. They provide you with a great understanding of the process; however we will see this from your CV so try to focus more on transferable skills. How have the previous work experiences provided you with skills that can you can use in another setting?

6. Read the Novo Nordisk Way and the Triple Bottom Line.

You want to show as much as possible that you have researched the company and identify with its core values. If you feel it fits mention it in your cover letter but most importantly you should be able to portray the key characteristics Novo Nordisk stands for.

7. Showcase any international experience.

All programmes involve some form of international rotation and so candidates ought to have an international mind-set and be ready to be flexible and leave their comfort zone. If you have done this in the past, it’s the proof that you are ready for what the programme holds.

8. Keep it short.

Preferably your cover letter should be to the point and not exceed more than 1 -1.5 pages. Remember that each reviewer needs to read hundreds of applications; the last thing you want is for him to get bored while reading yours.

9. Link previous work experience.

We are not looking for people with great amount of work experience however if you are able to link previous internships, projects or courses to the programme it will help you in showing your true interest and motivation.

10. Read the graduate blog.

You have already fulfilled one of the ten points by reading this. during the preparation of my application the graduate blog became my bible and it is the best source for first-hand knowledge that will allow you to understand the programme and its requirements.


I know I am not reinventing the wheel here but maybe some of you will find it useful and as an extra tip for reading till then end: Make sure to upload your cover letter as a document and not use the field provided in the application process as it will look much nicer.

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I don’t know anything about the industry… Can I apply? Should I apply?

Category: Business Processes European Business Management Global Marketing | (0) comments

Let me turn back time one year: Welcome to January 2014. I had just started my master’s thesis, and I was aware that I had to find out what my life should look like after studies. I was already convinced that a graduate programme would be a good option for me. But nowadays many companies offer graduate programmes, and so I could opt for various industries.

To narrow down my options I assessed various programmes on their ability to satisfy three wishes:

  1. I wanted to work for a company where I’d being doing something meaningful
  2. I wanted to work for a company that would care about my professional and personal development
  3. I wanted to work for a company that could offer me international opportunities

Three companies stood out to me, one of them, however, in an industry that I had absolutely no knowledge about; Novo Nordisk and diabetes care.

Although Novo Nordisk’s graduate programme appeared to satisfy my three wishes, I was left with two concerns. Can I at all get accepted into such a competitive programme with no prior experience with the industry? And if yes, would I actually want to apply?


Can I apply? (Can I get in?)
Short answer: yes (all you need is two large free-range eggs, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, a knob of butter and some cheddar cheese – no wait, that’s an omelet, but this may be a tasty companion for your application writing).  My point is, you do not need to have experience with pharma to get into the programme.

My master’s in marketing and communications had been focusing on developing small geniuses primarily for the FMCG industry or advertising/communication agencies, and pharmaceutical companies did not figure in the cases we worked on throughout the degree.

That meant, one year ago I knew as much about the pharmaceutical industry as about navigating a burning spaceship through a meteor storm – which is rather sparse.

Now, despite my non-existing experience with the industry, I managed to get in. Of course, I prepared as much as possible throughout the application process, but it will be fair to say that my knowledge about diabetes and pharma was still at a very basic level when I flew in for the graduate recruitment centre in April.

My advice for other pharma-novices interested in applying is to learn the basics about the company and industry in advance of the telephone interview and recruitment centre. Use the corporate website, the graduate blog and use various news sites to immerse yourself into what is currently happening in the industry.

Most important, however, is your motivation and attitude – why do you want to work in Novo Nordisk? As one of the programme managers (Ove) puts it: we hire for attitude and develop for skills – and not the other way around. In-depth knowledge on the products and the industry can be developed – the right attitude rather not.


Should I apply?
Short answer: there is no short answer. It will depend on what you want from your job, and I think my best help for this question will be to list a few additional questions that you can ask yourself to reach an answer.

(1) How do you feel about starting from scratch?

It is no secret that especially the first months can be hard and frustrating when you participate in meetings where every second word or abbreviation is new to you. One must be willing to see this as a learning opportunity, and understand that it takes a bit extra from you to get up to speed. That being said, you do not need to be an expert on the industry or products to contribute to your team already in the first rotation – analytical qualities and a curious mind can be useful from day one.

(2) How do you feel about working in a relatively slow-moving industry?

The pace of developing, launching and getting new medicines to the market is certainly slower than that for consumer electronics, toys, beauty products, etc., and you should ask yourself if this matters to you. However, be aware that whereas new product launches may not be happening on a monthly basis in this industry, other areas – such as lifecycle management – present highly interesting work tasks.

(3) How do you feel about working in a highly regulated industry?

In this industry, regulations establish certain structures and procedures to be followed. This is necessary and understandable. Looking back at my first four months, I still feel that there has been plenty of room for creative work, and developing competitive solutions “inside the box” may actually be even more challenging than to do so “outside the box”. However, if you get claustrophobic in a structured environment, this industry may not be your first choice.


I hope this post has been helpful to those of you with limited knowledge on the industry, and for those interested in applying, find your preferred programme and send us your application.

If you have other topics you would like addressed here on the blog, let me know, and I will give it a shot!


Take care,

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Rocking the Graduate Recruitment Centre (GRC): key tips and all the blog posts published so far!

Category: Business IT Business Processes Chinese International Graduate Programme European Business Management European Finance Global Finance Global Marketing Global Procurement International Operations Business International Operations Finance Product Supply R&D Global Development R&D Regulatory Affairs Uncategorized | (0) comments

As the deadline for the GRC draws nearer with every day, we can remember how we felt a year ago: a mixture of stress, curiosity, fear but above all excitement! We wondered how to best prepare for these two exciting days, and though we had browsed Novo Nordisk’s website, graduate blog and the entire Internet in search for more information, it somehow never felt enough.

In this blog post, we would like to ease your task of preparation a bit and assure you once more that you do not need to be afraid :-). As many posts about the GRC have already been published and you might find it difficult to find all of these, we have listed them all in our post below, and each of us has picked ONE of our top recommendations that we have for you. Enjoy reading and good luck!


Anne-Sophie’s tip: 4 letters: T.E.A.M.

At this advanced stage of the recruiting process, what does differentiate THE candidate from the other candidates? I do not have the exact answer to give you but I can tell you what I felt at the GRC: teamwork and collaboration! I know what you think: you have read it everywhere, on the website of every company you have applied to, and probably already experienced it along other Assessment Centres. And this is again the case here!

Bear in mind that we are looking for skilled candidates – which we know you are – but also for colleagues and people we can see ourselves working with. Your strengths might be the weakness of others. But instead of using these strengths solely to your own advantage, rely on them to help and drive your other teammates. As a leader and manager, you are expected to empower people and help them grow in their role. Knowing yourself and using your best skills for the benefit of the group and for achieving a common goal will be key to your success at the GRC. I can only give you my example: having had some prior experience in the pharmaceutical industry, I chose to share this knowledge with my teammates for them to better understand the tasks that were given to us and for the group to be faster and more insightful to solve our business case. Of course I felt exposed and sometimes wanted to keep this knowledge only for myself as I thought that this could be a huge personal advantage. But choosing the other way and deciding to use this for the benefit of the group only encouraged us to aim higher. Hence don’t be shy and dare exposing your best self for others!


Lisa’s tip: Never stop believing in yourself and your skills!

My advice to you is: Believe in yourself and show this confidence until the end! Compared to other assessment centres the GRC is quite long. It will be two very intensive days with many different exercises as you already know. You will feel exhausted at some point and there will also be moments where you might not feel happy with your performance. But this should never discourage you. Stay motivated throughout the two days and if there is a moment where you are not pleased with your performance, forget about it quickly and focus all your energy and enthusiasm towards the next task. I am saying this because of a personal experience from last year: Somehow, the business case was not ‘my friend’ right from the start, but when it came to the actual presentation in front of the assessors it seemed that it actually achieved to ‘break my neck’. During the preparation for the business case there were several things that made it difficult for me to properly prepare, so I held the worst presentation that I had ever prepared. And I am not just saying that because I felt like this, but also because I could clearly see from the assessors’ faces and their questions that they were not at all happy with it. I had terrible slides and the content was not really insightful. I felt very bad after this and since it was one of the last exercises, I was sure that I had lost my chance for a graduate position. After some time of feeling miserable I realised that there is still a chance to at least improve the final impression of myself. So I tried to forget about the presentation and focused on the next exercise. Although I did not feel that this actually compensated for my bad performance earlier, I still felt better and more pleased with myself after it went quite well.

In the end, I actually got the graduate position! For me, this shows that one unsuccessful exercise does not mean that you have lost all your chances. When I got the feedback for the GRC, I was honestly told that everyone was negatively surprised by my presentation of the business case at first, but then they admired how confident I presented these ‘lousy’ slides and how honest I answered their questions. They also appreciated that I did not give up after this, but put all my rest energy and motivation in the last exercises.

Hence, I want to show you that the way you deal with an unpleasant experience at the GRC can be key to your success and self-satisfaction. With confidence in your skills you will be able to better deal with such an experience!  


Now that we have given you our two best recommendations for the GRC, please browse the graduate blog and visit the insightful following posts below:

GRC video from 2013

Graduate Recruitment Centre: Last Minute Practicalities

Survival guide to reduce jetlag in the GRC (& something important)

Next Stop: GRC 1-2 of April

GRC: What to expect?

Next steps in the graduate recruitment process, key tips for success

Final words of advice, the Graduate Recruitment Centre

BP Graduate shares experience from last years’ recruitment centre

Ove Munch Ovesen: what is an assessment centre, the expert shares his tips

A job is a 2-way match

Applying for Novo Nordisk and the Graduate Programme – Part 3- Graduate Recruitment Centre

Enjoy the recruitment centre


Good luck and we – together with all the other graduates – will see you on April 1st and 2nd!

 Graduates 2013_Group Picture during Intro Day

All the best,

Lisa and Anne-Sophie


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The phone interview?! Tips and tricks to get ready

Category: Business IT Business Processes Chinese International Graduate Programme European Business Management European Finance Global Finance Global Marketing Global Procurement International Operations Business International Operations Finance Product Supply R&D Global Development R&D Regulatory Affairs | (32) comments

Congratulations to those of you who have submitted their application to one of the graduate programmes! You have taken the first hurdle in becoming a graduate within Novo Nordisk :-). At the moment, all of your applications are being read through. This is probably the toughest round of the selection process since we receive so many great applications and we can only choose ca. 400 for the phone interview! At the end of February/ beginning of March you will be informed vie E-mail about the outcome of this process. In case you get selected for the next round, we can only say that being selected for the phone interview out of several thousand applications is really a great achievement and the main feeling you should have at that moment is being proud of yourself!

But, of course, you may also be a little bit nervous about what comes next. Therefore, we would like to share with you some tips for how to best prepare for the phone interview. Since there will not be a lot of time between the invitation for the interview and the actual interivew, it might be wise to already start preparing now:

First of all, be assured that there are no traps or mean questions in the phone interview: If you have reached this stage of the process, it means that we already think that you are a great fit with Novo Nordisk and the graduate programme. Interviewers will take the opportunity to get to know you better and get a more thorough understanding of what you previously did and why this made you want to join Novo Nordisk.

So be prepared to talk about the following:

What is your story?

Basically: why did you do what you did (academic and professional experience, extracurricular activities, etc.)?

We like open and honest answers: only a few of us have a straight arrow for a personal and professional path. What your interviewers are interested in is why you made those choices, and why, in regards to your experiences, you have decided that Novo Nordisk would be the best place to achieve your personal and professional development. For example, with regards to my (Lisa) professional experience, my CV was mainly filled with internships in the financial services industry (and mainly at one company). So of course during my phone interview the question came up: Why are you interested in working in the pharmaceutical industry and at Novo Nordisk? Why do you not want to work in the financial services industry and with the company you interned with? Although I had clear answers to these questions in my head, the challenging part was to share them in a logical and convincing way with the interviewer on the phone. Some preparation beforehand definitely helped me with that!

What did you achieve, which challenges did you face and what did you learn?

Take a look at your resume as well as your cover letter: you have to know them BY HEART and be prepared to answer questions regarding them! You will be questioned about both your positive and negative experiences. What you achieved and what you learned. Don’t be fluffy in your answers: of course you have learnt something and of course you had some challenges. What you did to overcome them is what we would like to hear. Also, be ready to elaborate on your achievements. However, no matter how great these might be, try and stay humble :-).

Why Novo Nordisk and why your programme?

We are looking for people who want to contribute to Novo Nordisk’s success. The graduate programme IS challenging, for real. Also you have to be convinced of why you wish to join the programme and what this means to you: What is important for you within Novo Nordisk, what programmes, actions, initiatives appeal to you and why you think they are relevant to Novo Nordisk’s patients, are some of the questions you should ask yourself.

Identify and know your motivation for Novo Nordisk and for the specific programme you will be interviewed for: This is your only chance as you will get interviewed for only one of the programmes you have applied for. Browse Novo Nordisk’s website as well as the graduate blog, podcasts, videos, FB page, etc., there is plenty of information there to help you :-) 

Our last advice: Be yourself because then you will be at your best! The interviewer wants to get to know YOU and since it is the story of your life you are the one who knows it best!

Also remember: everyone is nervous during phone interviews and the interviewer knows this as well and will not hold this against you. It is just natural. But if you smile while talking (Yes, you can definitely hear if someone is smiling on the phone!) and if you even manage to laugh this will not only leave a positive impression to the interviewer, but also make you more relaxed.

To read more about interview tips and tricks, read the following blog posts:

–      My top 3 tips for the phone interview

–      Phone interview and the Graduate Recruitment Centre – key tips for success

–      OH BOY!!! Interviews scare me…

Now enjoy the rest of this weekend and stay tuned for more blog posts to come!

Anne-Sophie and Lisa

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