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Trial Management – a perspective from Australia

Category: R&D Global Development R&D Regulatory Affairs | (0) comments

Dear reader,

In this blog post the focus will be on trial management. As I’m not an expert on this area I’ve asked my graduate colleague Maja some questions. Maja joined the graduate program as a trial management graduate in 2014 and is currently spending a very exiciting rotation in Australia.

Maja in Sydney.

Maja in Sydney.

Too start off Maja, give us a short introduction to what trial management is all about?
Clinical trials are an important part of the development of new drugs. Before a new potential drug can be put on the market for the benefits of the patients, the product needs to go through a set of clinical trials, making sure the drug is both safe and is working as it is intended.
A clinical trial is a big setup that needs a large amount of planning, organisation and collaboration across different skill areas. In trial management you are responsible of managing this process; from the very first step of writing the trial protocol and orchestrating the roll out of the trial, all the way through to last-patient-last-visit and database lock. From here the collected data is handed over to statisticians and medical writers, preparing the clinical trial report that is sent to the health authorities for approval.

Very interesting. So what has your role been in your second rotation?
In my second rotation, which I have spent in the Australian affiliate, I have been working as a CRA (clinical research associate) also referred to as a monitor. In this role I have got to experience how the clinical trials are run in a local market. Orchestrated from HQ the clinical trials are run locally by the local trial managers and a set of CRAs, who goes out to the clinical trial sites to oversee that the trials are run according to the protocol and good clinical practice.
I have been lucky to be involved in different trials at different stages, allowing me experience both the initiation, execution and closure of a trial. This has given me an insight to all of the processes from A to Z it takes to run a trial in Australia.

maja in australia3 (4)

Which competencies do you get in your current role in Australia that you cannot get in HQ in Denmark?
In the affiliate I have got the opportunity to get a local perspective of how Novo Nordisk as a company operates in Australia and to experience the local aspects of how clinical trials are run in Novo Nordisk. The learnings I have got here I couldn’t gain in any other way than actually being physically situated in the local market. By living and working here, you get this special insight, which you cannot get from reading about it or through other peoples learnings.
Also, through my work in the affiliate I have got to work directly with the customers of Novo Nordisk, in term of investigators and study personnel, which is a type of stakeholder I wouldn’t get to work directly with in HQ.

What is the best part of having an international rotation?
The best part of the international rotation, I would say, is the personal development you gain from having to settle in a new country, a new culture and a new working environment. It requires a lot of investment in the beginning having to build new routines and a new network, but the learnings I have acquired from this experience I am sure I will use in my life going forward – approaching the world with open-arms and a feeling of “I-can-do-this”.

Why should recent, or soon to be, graduates apply for the trial management graduate program?
I definitely encourage everyone with an interest in clinical trial management to apply for the programme! The programme allows you to obtain great knowledge of clinical trials and on specifically how clinical trials are run in Novo Nordisk. Through the programme you get the opportunity to be exposed to different trials in different phases and different therapeutic areas within a short time, which I see as one of the greatest benefits of the programme. On top of this the extensive support and training you get throughout the programme, I find, helps you climb the steep learning curve and transform from a student to an employee, much faster than if you were hired into a position as a regular employee.

Hope you enjoyed Maja’s insight. Stay tuned for more information about the other graduate programs in Global Development.

All the Best,

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Biostatistics – what does it mean?

Category: R&D Global Development R&D Regulatory Affairs Uncategorized | (1) comments

Dear reader,

My previous blog post was an introduction to the graduate positions that are offered in Global Development this year. When you apply for the Global Development graduate program you will apply for a position in one of six different skill areas. There are some common elements to these positions and ultimately you will be working towards the same goals in global development no matter which position you have. However it is important to know in which area you can make the biggest difference with your current skills. In the coming weeks I will upload some blogs describing what the different skill areas are all about.

I will start by telling about my own area which is biostatistics. Currently I’m working on a clinical trial which has been ongoing for 5 years and is about to close down. We are now in the hectic phase of discussing how the data should be presented and creating the statistical output summarizing and visualizing the data. When this process is complete the data will be presented to GD management and form the basis on which they take business critical decisions. When this is done publications of the results and other exploratory analysis will be prepared for major medical journals. All of this work is done in close collaboration with medical doctors and scientists who are experts on how the drug works and how it affects the patients. Furthermore, it is important to have a dialogue with the authorities which approve the drug. Ensuring that we comply with the requirements set by the authorities is something that affects all the work done in biostatistics.

Another important aspect of the work I currently do is to ensure that the way we analyse and interpret data corresponds with the way it was actually reported by the patients in the trial and the doctors conducting it. This can especially be a challenge with a trial which have been planned more than 5 years ago. It necessitates a close collaboration with the data managers, who are responsible for collecting the data in the trial, and the trial managers, who are responsible for the organization of the trial.

Now these are only some of the tasks which we do in biostatistics. Another example of tasks we perform is providing statistical evidence that support the price negotiations conducted by our health economics colleagues. In general it takes at least 3-5 years of biostatistics experience to get through all the processes biostatistics is involved in. Being a part of the biostatistics graduate program will give you the opportunity to do at least two 8 months rotations in biostatistics. This gives you the opportunity to get exposure to more of the processes biostatistics are involved in while also allowing you to try out different projects. If you have an interest in the pharmaceutical industry, don’t let this opportunity pass!

All the Best,

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6 ways to a life changing career within Global Development

Category: R&D Global Development R&D Regulatory Affairs Uncategorized | (6) comments

Today I had a Skype call with my Programme Manager, Kristina Jacobsen.

I am currently located in Bangalore, India and she is seated in our Headquarter in Denmark.

Kristina was very happy and told me that the hiring process of 12 new graduates will be initiated shortly. Whereas most Novo Nordisk graduate programmes hire every year Global Development only hire graduates every 2nd year. So now it is a unique chance to apply if you would like to join Global Development!

The next group of graduates (application period 01-DEC-2015 to 10-JAN-2016) with a joining date of 01-SEP-2016 will expand significantly.

We are currently 7 GD graduates spread on 3 different skill areas; Biostatistics, Trial Management and Health Economics. Going forward, the GD Graduate programme will consist of 12 graduates covering 6 different skill areas:
• Biostatistics
• Statistical Programming
• Epidemiology
• Medical Writing
• Trial Management
• Data Management

I was really excited to hear this news as it will give additional 12 future graduates a chance to embark on a life-changing career in Novo Nordisk.

The focus in Novo Nordisk is the development of life-saving treatments and this is surely something to be proud of. More than 90 years of experience working with innovative biological medicines and understanding patients´ lives allows Novo Nordisk to concentrate on areas where we can make a real difference. In Global Development, we lead the clinical activities from when a drug candidate enters clinical testing through the submission and approval phase and when it has entered the market. On top of this, everybody is encouraged to contribute and share new ideas. The flow of knowledge across teams is highly supported and there is a healthy and engaging working environment.

Kristina confirmed that the set-up for the new graduates will be similar to the existing one, where each of the skill areas have an experienced specialist assigned who is responsible for planning the rotations and ensuring a steep learning curve throughout the 2 year period for each individual graduate. This special set-up is very beneficial and shows the commitment in Global Development towards the professional and personal development of the graduates.

As a programme manager, Kristina is responsible for the overall coordination of the programme during the 2 year period. Furthermore, she is responsible for common activities for all GD Graduates such as conducting monthly touch base/knowledge sharing sessions and evaluation meetings. Kristina and I talked about the great privilege of being part of both formal and informal graduate networks which allows us all to broaden our learning even further while building networks and relationships across the company. We surely have a lot of fun and good laughs when we meet.

Kristina mentioned that she is looking very much forward to welcome a new group of young talents to Novo Nordisk. I can only echo her. If you are ready for a life-changing career, now is the time to apply.


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2-years as a RA graduate and then what?

Category: R&D Global Development R&D Regulatory Affairs | (3) comments

I believe that the graduate blog is very successful in providing an insight into how the programs work, the experience one has during the program and how one can manage to get accepted into the program; however there is less information on what happens after the program.

So you sign up for two years of rotations and new impressions; being pushed outside your comfort zone every 6 or 8 months (depending on the program) and then what happens?

Let me start by saying that you sign a two-year contract meaning your are not bound to the company after the program ends but also they are not required to keep you (this does not apply for the IO programs). Having said that, the company invests a great amount of resources into its graduates and thus you should be offered a position after the two years if you manage to meet their expectation.

The retention rates of graduates differ between the programs and I believe RA has the highest rate with 100% of former graduates still working for Novo Nordisk. In general Novo Nordisk is very successful in keeping its employees and creating a working environment one just does not want to leave again.

So what happens to RA graduates after they finish the program?

In most cases the next step will have already been finalized months before the 2-years come to an end and you will transition smoothly from your ‘graduate position‘ into your ‘permanent position‘. Often this involves a change in department; however some graduates have chosen to stay within the department they selected for their third rotation.

How easy it is to find a department after the program depends on how well your interests meet the current business needs. Nonetheless the fact that all RA graduates are still within the company shows that they try to give you the possibility to work exactly where you want.

As an RA graduate you become an RA professional after the program and then there are three main development paths which are shown in the figure below.

blog pic 4

The specialist role features in-depth analysis and investigation into a specific area of RA, involving solution-seeking and method/process-optimization. On the other hand the line manager role is defined by setting targets and directions; it involves a great extent of people management and development to achieve results. The project-management track is the most-cross functional as teams are built with key players from diverse disciplines to manage and see through a product from early development stages to life-cycle management.

Therefore one has many opportunities to find a role matching one’s interest. In general Novo Nordisk puts a lot of emphasis on personal development also outside the graduate program and managers are very responsive towards employees’ wishes.

Lastly let me end by saying that the program does not guarantee that everyone will end up as CVP but it provides one with a fast track opportunity to explore different fields and roles aiding your future development.

If you do not want to miss the opportunity to become part of the program send in your application now and use these blog posts to help you in structuring your application (FAQ, Cover Letter, Application 1 + 2, Last Minute Tips).




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The Ups and Downs of the Rotation Abroad

Category: R&D Global Development R&D Regulatory Affairs | (9) comments

At the beginning of the month I took the chance to sit down with the two RA graduates Mark and Sascha that have just returned from their rotation abroad. Throughout our one hour ‘coffee’ meeting that involved a lot of cake (my favorite type of meeting) I questioned them about their high and low moments of the past eight months and any useful tips or experiences I could use in the time leading up to my move abroad and during the eight months at the affiliate.

When I was applying to the program the rotation system and in particular the eight months spent at an affiliate were among the main reasons I really wanted to be successful in obtaining one of the positions. Therefore I thought it might be useful to share some of the stories and insights Mark and Sascha told me; also because I know for some people being sent to a random country (and it is really any country as you have no influence over where you will be sent in the RA program) can be daunting.

Let me start by providing you with the basics about Sascha’s and Mark’s rotation. Sascha went to NNi, the affiliate in Princeton in the US also coined small headquarter in Novo Nordisk, and Mark to the production facility in Brazil. Mark had never been to Brazil before whereas Sascha had visited the US twice and even lived there for a short period of time. Thus they had very different rotations with diverging tasks, impressions and cultural experiences.

For Sascha his rotation at NNi was hist first exposure to RA work as he had spent the first rotation outside RA in the medical writing department. He focused on the future insulins and got to work on many different projects in numerous departments. The flexibility and wide exposure to different products were the features Sascha enjoyed the most and he ended up working with most of the diabetes portfolio in just one rotation. This is an experience many graduates make when spending time at an affiliate. The smaller workforce and the less rigid structures means your role will be far less defined and constrained.

In Mark’s case it was the opposite, after having spent 8 months in an RA department in Headquarters he joined the Quality Management Systems team in Brazil working with the implementation of such systems at the local site as well as with customer complaints and RA site approvals among other tasks.

Now let me get down to the nitty-gritty questions I posed them:

blog post 3-1

First Reaction?

I was able to emphasize greatly with Mark in this case as he had never even considered the possibility of going to Brazil. I had the same sensation when I was told that my rotation was in Vietnam. Sascha on the other hand stated that he was neutral about it and grew more and more excited as working in headquarters showed him the importance of NNi.

Biggest Fear?

Whereas Sascha worried mainly about his previously mentioned lack of RA experience and was not sure if he would be able to contribute anything of value; Mark’s main concern was focused on the ability to communicate. At least he believes it should have been his main fear but he might have been a bit naive about such issues before actually experiencing it first-hand.

blog post 3-2

Other Graduates at the same Affiliate?

Very surprisingly Sascha was the only graduate going to NNi at the time, very unusual as NNi is one of the prime destinations for graduates, and was joined later by finance graduates. Mark was accompanied by two Product Supply graduates for whom Brazil is one of few possible locations.

Social Life?

From a graduate perspective Mark was lucky as graduates have a special bond among them so going somewhere with other graduates immediately means you have a set of friends that have the same fears and ‘dreams’  as you. That does not mean that Mark only interacted with two people or that Sascha spent his rotation being lonely. Both found it easy to join in the social life with Mark participating in numerous sport teams and Sascha being surrounded by a group of very kind colleagues who took him in immediately.

blog post 3-3

Biggest Learning?

Both state the ‘affiliate view‘ as one of the main learnings that they are taking back to headquarters. It is very valuable to obtain an understanding of the differences between the local and the global needs. For Sascha his 8 months at NNi also provided him with an immense knowledge about the FDA which will be extremely useful in his further work in headquarter.

Moment of Struggle?

For Mark the lack of Portuguese skills did pose a problem at times and it can be frustrating when you feel unable to contribute as you are not able to grasp the whole problem due to communication issues. Nonetheless the graduate program is a lot about adaptation and pushing you outside your comfort zones; so be aware of such issues but do not let them demotivate you. On the other hand, Sascha did not even have one negative word to say about his 8 months in the US.

Now that I have completely exceeded our character limit and still feel I have so much more to say, I will leave you with a map of past destinations of RA graduates to give you a feeling of where one might end up. Please feel free to ask me questions in the comments.

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What does a Regulatory Affairs (RA) graduate actually do?

Category: R&D Global Development | (10) comments

Bring drugs to market’, stakeholder management’ and ‘strategic input

are probably some of the phrases the internet bible, that is google, flagged up during your search of what a RA professional does. How does that translate into what the daily activities of a RA professional are, I hear you cry? Well sit back, relax and make yourself comfy for at least the next few minutes, as I will attempt to give you an idea of what you are signing up for when you submit your application before the 8th Feb.

Before I continue I have a little confession to make, whilst I am a RA graduate my first rotation is actually within Chemistry, Manufacturing and Control (CMC) Supply. One of the many beauties of the graduate program is the rotational element; one of your 8 month rotations will be outside of RA, but in a department closely aligned to RA, which leads me nicely into my next paragraph…

CMC Supply

CMC supply is a pretty awesome place to work because:

A) One day you may go into work to see an ice cream machine in the coffee room, which signals you to start salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs

B) Following the arrival of said ice cream machine, your department manager may tell you to ‘help yourself to as much ice-cream as you want’ (adios waistline)

C) CMC Supply is the heart of the formulation and development of our drug products. In a nutshell, we are the middle men and women between our research laboratories discovering a novel drug product that can kick the ass of diabetes (and other other chronic disorders), and our colleagues in product supply, who manufacture the drug on a commercial scale to then ship to patients across the globe.

Blog post 3 ice cream

This was no mirage, there was an ice-cream machine in my office!

Now I should really get on with telling you a little about what I actually do:

’Bring drugs to market’

Think less breaking bad and more Phase 3 drug development, with the latter being a pivotal stage in the ‘bring drugs to market’ concept. In Phase 3 you compile and submit all your documents to health authorities as part of a new drug application (NDA). The NDA essentially proves that you have the coolest drug product out there, bar none. Recently, I authored one of the first documents from our department to be submitted to the FDA as part of the NDA. Thus highlighting that you get real responsibility from the get go and a real chance to apply yourself. However, it must be noted that such a task could not be completed alone and I was able to get by with a little help from my friends -not Paul McCartney and Co, but my stakeholders.

‘Stakeholder management’

Whether I am relying on a chemist in my department to review a protocol  I am writing, to ensure it is scientifically viable or a colleague in analytical support to give me input on validated methods used to test the stability of our drug product; stakeholders and their input is key to your day-to-day work. Don’t be surprised if you can sometimes spend the best part of a day in meetings with your stakeholders or find yourself negotiating deadlines for their input. I am quickly learning that if you manage your stakeholders well, you have won half of the battle in finalising a task you are responsible for.

‘Strategic input’

Recently I tried my hand at being strategic during the writing of a protocol for a study that confirms our drug product is degraded in light and hence must be stored away from light. Sounds simple right? Well not so simple, as we need to decide on what stability indicating test parameters we want to investigate. To cut a long story short, I made a suggestion of not including some test parameters in the submission package as part of that NDA application I told you about earlier, but still testing said parameters and keeping them in house in case FDA has questions around them. Apparently, this is a good suggestion and considering up until now, the most strategic thing I had done involved me placing hotels on the orange property set of the monopoly board and bankrupting my whole family in the process (sorry guys), I think it is safe to say I am learning and reaching new strategic heights.

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It’s like looking in the mirror.

For me to be able to help in the process of bringing drugs to market, whilst managing various stakeholders and trying to give some strategic input from time to time I have been trained and continue to receive ample training to aid my development. Training will be the theme of my 4th blog post, so stay tuned folks :)


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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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(Rated by 18 people. Average 4.9 of 5)

What does Regulatory Affairs even mean?

Category: R&D Global Development R&D Regulatory Affairs | (10) comments

Before I try myself at the impossible task of portraying Regulatory Affairs in 500 words and hopefully provide you with a bit more insight of what one actually ‘does‘ in RA, let me describe my path to the Novo Nordisk RA graduate programme.

My initial online exploration into the field of Regulator Affairs came after a similar experience with science than my fellow graduate Nani describes so amusingly in her blog post; just with less brains and more mice. After having initially studied Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine I was finding myself unsure of how to proceed. My main thought at the time was: “How do I stay in science, without actually doing science?” I loved everything about science and could have spent the next decade just learning, however when it came to the actual research I was lacking the passion.

In search of an alternative I went on to do a second Master in International Health Policy. Quickly it became apparent to me that this was definitely too far from science and not the right path for me either. Luckily fellow students felt the same and informed me about the Novo Nordisk RA graduate programme. What followed was an exhaustive Google search into the field of RA after which I did not feel much smarter then before and an extensive rewriting of my cover letter until I thought it somehow sounded like I knew what I was talking about.

Let me tell you right now, no one seems to poses the ultimate knowledge of what RA stands for. If one asks more experienced colleagues they might throw around phrases and key terms like we bring drugs to the market,ensure compliance, stakeholder management andagency interactions to describe RA. All not very hands-down descriptions that tell you what one actually does. The reason for this is because it varies so much and these key terms are the ones that are likely to apply overall. That is the beauty of RA. One gets to work on various tasks i  different settings and with internal and external stakeholders.

I have been working within a CMC (chemistry, manufacturing and control) team for a product that has been launched in some countries and is going to be submitted soon in others. Quite an interesting time to join a team, right at the border of the development and life-cycle management phase, which implies a very heavy workload. Having no previous work experience with CMC it did feel like drowning in cold water, but I quickly learnt to swim and have so far survived. During the first four months I have been responsible for compiling and providing the ‘Annual Report’ (an annual update sent to the FDA) allowing me to work closely with the US affiliate among others and preparing a variation submitted in multiple countries. During the time we also received the Canadian ‘Clarifax’ (a request for additional information) for our market application submitted earlier that comes with an impossible deadline and so occupied the whole team.

Overall it has been an eventful time and I am looking forward to the next four months before I move on to something completely different. In order to shorten your Google search I advise you to check out this video and read previous posts by RA graduates; these were where I got most of my information.

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(Rated by 9 people. Average 4.9 of 5)

Do you really want to join the graduate program?

Category: R&D Global Development | (5) comments

Many of you are probably asking yourself whether the graduate program is right for you. Do you want to work for Novo Nordisk? Do you want to join the graduate program? Should you apply? Mainstream advice I got when I had these questions when was the unhelpful – just apply and see where it leads. Let’s be honest – that’s bullshit advice. Floating around in life ‘just doing things’ does not get you where you want. Having a solid method of taking decisions and working hard to fulfil your goals do. Being near the end at my studies considering an academic career at the time I applied I had no experience in the pharmaceutical industry and no experience with Novo Nordisk. Throw into the mix that many people applying know very little about Denmark deciding on the graduate program doesn’t get any easier.

There are two ways to making decisions: Logically and emotionally. Some people prefer only logical decisions others always go with emotional ones. Personally I am more of a logical person but still I feel that the decision of whether you want to be a part of the graduate program should be primarily emotionally. A job might be your dream job on paper but if you do not ‘feel it’ you must go for something where you do. There is no reason to waste your time and energy on something that is not right for you. On the other hand, if you really ‘feel it’ but have a few logical objections like thinking you might be under/over-qualified, or that the work task are not perfect for you, then apply and go for it. You will be pleasantly surprised!

This does not mean that you should not do any research on Novo Nordisk and the graduate program. In fact you should gather as much information as possible about Novo Nordisk and the graduate program to be as informed as you can get. In particular you should learn about the core values of Novo Nordisk and you should see how these align with those of your own (more on this is an upcoming post). Reading this blog is part of this process. However, reflecting on the core values that you identify with as a person is an equally important part and something that you absolutely must do if want the job.

Now except for making a qualified decision to whether Novo Nordisk and the graduate program is right for you there is an distinct advantage to identifying your core values and see if they match with the values of Novo Nordisk before you apply. When you communicate your values and how you ‘feel’ that the job is a good fit for you in the application and interview, the chances of getting the job increases not just a little but a good lot. Writing an application and doing an interview becomes easy. You simply explain yourself in an open and honest way.

So go ahead and learn about Novo Nordisk – read about the company, read the blogs and ask people about their experiences. Hopefully you will get a good feel for how you match with the company!

Until next time!


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(Rated by 8 people. Average 5.0 of 5)