An important part (and perk) of being a Novo Nordisk employee is the strong focus on leadership as well as professional and personal development – particularly in the graduate programme, which has the purpose to develop future leaders of the company. Recently, all global graduates got the exiting opportunity to meet a leader who has gone through most of his professional development at Novo Nordisk: Executive Vice President, Jesper Hoiland.
We were told to be at building NN1 at 8am (sharp!) where Jesper Hoiland would take us through his journey from when he started his career at Novo Nordisk, 29 years ago, until today. It is definitely safe to say that Jesper Hoiland has had a remarkable career! He has worked in, and successfully led various different business functions across the entire globe, which ultimately has brought him to the position and responsibility he has today: Executive Vice President (EVP) of Novo Nordisk and President of the US affiliate – one of the most significant regions for the Novo Nordisk business.
Jesper Hoiland embarked his career at Novo Nordisk in 1987, and worked within marketing in Novo Nordisk Canada and Belgium, before becoming head of Novo Nordisk’s Diabetes Division in France. In 1998 he took up the position as managing director of Novo Nordisk Australia, and in 2000 he was appointed Senior Vice President of International Marketing at Novo Nordisk’s headquarters in Denmark. In 2004 Jesper Hoiland took over the responsibility of Novo Nordisk’s region International Operations as Senior Vice President, based in Switzerland, and in 2013 he was appointed Senior Vice President of Novo Nordisk North America. This career journey culminated in April 2015, where Jesper Hoiland was promoted Executive Vice President with responsibility for the US. I told you, remarkable, right?
Given the opportunity, any curious and ambitious mind would have to ask the question: what has he done to come to the point where he is today, and what is the story behind his success?
The answer is not simple, because it is not simple to become an EVP – at all. Throughout his presentation, Jesper Hoiland shared some pivotal moments in his career, and gave deeper insights to what he has done to get where he is today. In his narration he navigated through business and management topics, and his take on balancing your professional and personal life. As you may imagine, since it is extremely demanding to be an EVP in a global leading pharmaceutical company, these are areas where you must be an exceptional performer. It was extremely insightful! Furthermore, he touched upon a topic which I personally enjoyed a lot: working your way up, and letting your work do the talk. Jesper Hoiland told us about how he got his hands dirty by working in the field with tight budgets, demanding sales targets and making essential decisions on a day-to-day basis. In other words, he worked – in its most literal meaning – his way to becoming a top-line manager. From my experience, a vast amount of young professionals embarking their career dream of working with CXO-level strategy from the day they exit the university halls. But, let me offer you this view: how can you become a top-line manager, without having sold, launched or managed anything? Success does not come from sitting in an ivory tower. Call me outdated or old-fashioned, but I really believe in paying your dues and experiencing rather than referencing. Experience is an opportunity – an opportunity Jesper Hoiland seized, and that Novo Nordisk Graduates are offered.
Finally, Jesper Hoiland gave 5 key take-away insights to keep top of mind in your daily work life and long-term career. I’m intentionally not going to elaborate on these bullets to give you an opportunity to build your own take-aways.
- Long-term > Quick Win
- Co-develop with your peers through delegation and empowerment
- Promote mobility and diversity
- Provide instant, direct feedback, and be open to the same
- Celebrate success
I hope you have gained a further understanding of what a career in Novo Nordisk offers. Thank you for reading!