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Calling all master’s students!

Category: Business Processes European Finance Global & European Market Access Global Finance Global Marketing Global Procurement People & Organization Product Supply R&D Global Development R&D Regulatory Affairs | (41) comments

As I wrote in one of my previous graduate blog posts, the graduate programme is not the only option for a life-changing career in Novo Nordisk! If you are studying for a master’s degree and are eager to get started with your career, I can highly recommend applying for one of Novo Nordisk’s more than 100 internships. An internship can be a great way to test your skills and knowledge, but also an opportunity to develop and challenge yourself.

I started my Novo Nordisk career as an intern in the Cities Changing Diabetes team last year, and found that it was a good chance to figure out whether working in Novo Nordisk was something for me. Novo Nordisk takes its interns seriously, and you will have the opportunity to contribute on equal terms, so be ready for a challenge. My six months as an intern was a true learning experience and I had the chance to both use the skills I had achieved from university, but to a large extent also develop new and different capabilities that I could never have gotten from studying. In my case, coming from a public health background, increasing my business understanding was a key learning. I can highly recommend spending six months on an internship at Novo Nordisk, if you want to get a feeling of how it is to work in one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies.

However, you only get something out of an internship if you put some effort in it. To get the most out of your stay, here four tips for maximising the benefit of your internship:

  1. Have a clear goal: Before you start your internship it is important that you consider what you actually want to get out of it. What would you like to learn and what are your expectations? It is also a good idea to think about where you can contribute to the company!
  2. Be curious: To learn as much as possible, you have to be motivated and curious of what is going on – ask questions, participate in as many different meetings as possible and reach out to people.
  3. It is okay to make mistakes: An internship is a learning journey and no one expects that you can deliver from day 1, which also means that you have to be open to and ask for feedback during your stay.
  4. Be social: Make sure that you talk to all the interesting people you meet and network as much as possible. Participate whenever there is a social event and see it as an opportunity to get to know people who might be able to help you later on in your career.

Novo Nordisk offers around 100 internship positions in all areas of the business, ranging from marketing, finance & economics, research & development, engineering and IT. The internships vary in length (from 4-6 months) and scope but are all designed to give master’s students a valuable learning experience. The application period for the majority of the fall internship positions is from now to 14 May 2017.

See all the internships positions right here and read more about internships in Novo Nordisk here.

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From graduate to the right-hand woman of the CEO

Category: Business Processes | (0) comments


Sobia Akram started her career in Novo Nordisk in 2004 as a Business Processes Graduate. From 2009 to 2015 she was Executive Assistant (EA) to the former Chief Operational Officer (COO) Kåre Schultz and from 2015, Vice President and EA to the CEO of Novo Nordisk – first Lars Rebien Sørensen and since January 1st 2017 Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen.

What did the time as a business processes graduate gave you?
It gave me a holistic overview of Novo Nordisk and and a solid base of industry knowledge. I started out in IT in HQ; then I transferred to Zurich working with our commercial activities across Europe before I ended up in Product Supply. You learn to see the business from different angles and this holistic view has since been of great value in all my roles after the graduate programme ended. During my time in Novo Nordisk, I have worked in various EVP areas, – and I this has been of great value to me. If you for a brief moment think of Novo Nordisk as a big store – then I’m basically interested in all shelves in the shop. I have learned that any shelf can be fun and if you understand each shelf, you will be able to better understand the dynamics of the shop as such also.

How did you become EA back then?
I think any career progression is built of course to start out with – on hard work and ensuring deliverance. If you do that, then good things will come your way hopefully. I was working in Product Supply, when one morning our former COO, Kåre Schultz called me and asked if I could be in his office within an hour for an interview. And of course I showed up. After a good and thorough conversation he offered me the job and I was asked to start pretty much right after the conversation ended. In the EA role I have worked across many disciplines and subject areas such as target setting, governance processes, process optimisations and implementation, IT, clinical operations and HR related matters.

How did the graduate rotations prepare you for the role?
I started in IT thoug I must admit I did not have any real expert knowledge on the systems I was working with. From that experience, I gained valuable insights into how to big projects take place – all the way from conceptual idea through implementation. Planning, budgeting,, developing, testing, stakeholder management, communication etc. Having these tools in your toolbox are really valuable in your whole career. I use many of the same tools also further on – when I was in Product Supply working with the development of a inhaleable insulin device instead of delivering it through a needle, and also in my role as EA, since part of my job also is to drive and help implement projects in the organisation. The graduate programme also solidified my interest in the Company (ie the store) as compared to focusing only on one functional area. – That has been of great value, because in an EA role, you will need to work very much across functional areas.

What have your managers taught you?
I have learned many many things, I think, and do believe I have been privileged having the bosses I have had so far. I will have to limit myself to mentioning a few learnings here. In the early part of my career I learned that – if you deliver, your manager will increasingly trust you and delegate more responsibility, based on which you will grow and develop your skills and as a person. On the job training – is the best training because learnings get under your skin immediately. It is important to couple that with reflection. What I also have learned is that management encompasses maybe many things, – however ultimately it is about making decisions and ensuring that they are carried out in a good way. Often decision making is not easy, and so we solicit input – however, you have to trust your gut feeling. I for instance experienced that Lars Rebien Sørensen, our former CEO as an example was very data driven but his gut feeling had the final say. And I really took that with me. You aim to base your decisions on an informed foundation but in the end these foundations will also be built on assumptions. So things must feel right in the stomach too. Since January I have worked for Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen who is very calm and team oriented. He is open for inputs and considers these inputs I believe in his decision making.

On a general level you can say, my managers during my time in Novo Nordisk have all had very different management styles –and that is also good learning in itself. Authenticity matters. My journey has been fun and the time has really passed by quickly since I started in Novo Nordisk as a Business Processes Graduate 13 years ago! I wouldn’t change a day.

From 01 April 2017 Sobia will take over the position as Vice President of Novo Nordisk’s Business Ethics Compliance Office

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Before 30 Years Old

Category: International Operations Business | (0) comments

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

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

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

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

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

MAPA summit


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


Have a good day,



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Ready, steady, GO! …but where? Abroad rotations in the graduate programme!

Category: Business Processes | (21) comments

Hello again! Today I would like to share with you where you can potentially end up for your rotations abroad as graduates at Novo Nordisk. I woke up in a snowy Copenhagen , and my head can’t help thinking about my next rotation…Panama! So I HAVE to share with you what I know and think about the experience abroad during the programme!


Snowy copenhagen

Bopa Plads in Copenhagen


A broad range of choices…

As many of you know, Novo Nordisk has a global presence: affiliates or offices are present in 77 different countries, there are 16 production sites across 5 continents and products are marketed in around 170 countries. What does this mean? The range of countries you can go live and work is not banal!

We had a graduate get together last week, where the graduates from the different programmes shared their next destinations. Quite a few are heading the U.S., our biggest market. Some will rotate within Europe (France, Spain, Switzerland,..). A few will experience Far East Asia (Japan, China, Thailand, Myanmar,..). Other destinations include United Arab Emirates, Brazil and even Australia. And the cool thing is that we are all going to do different things.

…So can I choose where to go?

I got this question a lot lately, so I’d like to address it in this post. As a graduate, you are able to express your preference in terms of function and office for the next rotation, but you obviously have to keep open for alternative options, too. Throughout the two years a graduate manager will follow you and your development, and he/she will discuss with you about career and rotation options, including the rotations abroad.


world map

Where graduates will be going


And what is the value of the rotation abroad?

I know that for many of you the second rotation is just a far-away thought: application and VIDEO are, most likely, the words buzzing in your head at the moment. However, it is good to think about the added value that this programme can give you through the abroad rotations. Primarily, you will be able to experience the affiliate setting, which (and this is what I have been hearing from all of the older graduates) is quite different from the Head Quarter experience in Denmark. The rotation abroad allows you to get closer to the market, to the patients and to the whole dynamic around sales and hands-on implementation of local and global strategies. I cannot wait to experience that in first person and to share it with you!

What I will be doing and why.

For those who are interested in a more specific example of an abroad rotation, I can briefly touch upon my coming rotation in Panama City. I will be living and working there from May to December 2017. From the current position in Corporate Sustainability, I’ll be moving towards a marketing position, well I will support the preparation of product launches as well as learn about some commercial effectiveness-related taks of the affiliate. This will allow me to experience a more analytical role, in a country that I never experienced before but that intrigues me for its controversial fame and, honestly, its Latin approach. I look forward to working in a new market with new people and new tasks! It’s going to be a challenge, but that’s what the programme is also about! :)

If you are also up for a challenge, make sure to apply by THIS SUNDAY,  12 FEBRUARY 2017 on our website!

Best of luck with the applications and, of course, feel free to comment or email me if you have any questions or feedback!!

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PhD or graduate programme?

Category: R&D Chemistry, Manufacturing and Control Graduate Programme | (2) comments

Hello everyone

Most of you out there are probably in the same position as I was in last year around this time. You are deciding how you want to start your professional career after finishing university. I studied biochemistry, and there we were directed towards a future in academic research. The ‘right’ thing to do upon finishing your master was to start a PhD. With this background it was hard to imagine what you could do besides academia. Of cause I knew about the industry, but what exactly where the jobs you could get there? How did you get in? And did you limit yourself in your future career if you chose not to do a PhD? Today I will share my own considerations before applying for the CMC Graduate programme.

Career considerations
Upon finishing my studies last December, I knew that I did not want to pursuit a career within academia. I wanted to work in the medical industry, closer to the end product of biomedical research; medicine helping patients every day. Still I was considering whether I should do a PhD or not. I had been told that a PhD was a necessity for almost all research related jobs in the medical industry. That is at least how it is in Denmark. I knew that I wanted to stay within research to a certain degree, so completely abandoning the science and starting to apply for jobs within e.g. quality assurance was not really an option.

I considered if an industrial PhD could be a possibility. I soon realised that the process of establishing a PhD project, finding collaborators in the industry and applying for funding is long – and that you almost certainly need connections within the industry. If you can get your foot in when you are still studying, for example by applying for a Novo Nordisk internship or collaborating with a company during your master project, you will have good cards on your hand. If you are still studying and have these opportunities, I highly recommend these options, connections to the industry and getting a hang of what actually is going on out there is never a bad thing :)

Making lists
At this point in my career considerations the CMC Development Graduate programme suddenly became available. It was a brand new programme, and from first sight it caught my interest. I had previously had a mentor from Global Research at Novo Nordisk, and he had explained the structure of Novo Nordisk to me. Immediately, I knew that CMC Development would be the place for me. If you are curious on what CMC Development is, read my old posts here. In order to make sure that this programme would give me as many opportunities as a PhD, I asked my professor, a connection within Novo Nordisk CMC Development and a current Regulatory Affairs Graduate for advice (if you are interested in the RA graduate programme, read more on Mathilde’s awesome blog here). They all agreed that the graduate programme would be the right choice if I wanted to make a career within Novo Nordisk or anywhere else in the industry. It would, on the other hand, maybe close the door to the academic world. After discussing whit them I came up with a list of competencies/career catalysts you gain from a PhD/graduate programme:

  • PhD: Specialist, contemplation in a scientific subject, understanding of the academic world, PhD diploma, collaboration, (maybe) international outlook, responsibility for your own project
  • Graduate: Generalist in broad area (CMC), collaborations, team-work, international perspective, understanding of the industrial business and mind-set, broad professional network, quick adaptation, constantly new challenges and projects

You can probably add more labels to the lists, and also make ‘negative’ lists, but seeing it spelled out black on white, there was no doubt in my mind. I applied for the Graduate programme and I haven’t regretted my decision ever since. Especially the team-work, rotations and international outlook attracted me, compared to a PhD, where you mainly work independently on one project.

My advice to you is to make similar lists between your choices, or maybe continue my lists, if your choice is between a PhD and a Novo Nordisk Graduate programme. Ask around to figure out what opportunities and limitations the different options give you – and if you have questions regarding the graduate programme, feel free to reach out to me and start browsing the Graduate homepage. And remember, if you want to apply for one of the programmes hiring in 2017, the application opens on Friday the 20th of January.

After my research I know that if you want to pursuit a career within the medical industry, having completed a Novo Nordisk graduate program will always be a plus :)


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Is a graduate position the only option?

Category: Business Processes European Finance Global & European Market Access Global Finance Global Marketing Global Procurement International Operations Business International Operations Finance Product Supply R&D Chemistry, Manufacturing and Control Graduate Programme R&D Global Development R&D Regulatory Affairs | (14) comments

The answer to that question, is of course no! There are many ways to kick-start your career in Novo Nordisk. Novo Nordisk is a global leader within diabetes care, and to continue our business success we need to attract young, qualified people, including students and recently graduated talents. In this blog post, I will take you through some of the many opportunities within Novo Nordisk. Below you will find three sections, based on your graduation timeframe, which will make it easier for you to find the most relevant information. As I imagine that a lot of you reading this blog are students, I will focus a little extra on the student opportunities in Novo Nordisk and base it on my own experience back when I was a Public Health student.


Graduated in 2016 or 2017? Apply for a graduate position!

If you graduated in 2016 or will graduate this year, you can apply for a graduate position. As you probably already know, the Novo Nordisk graduate programme is a talent programme for recently graduated master students. In 2017 we offer 30 global graduate positions within Research & Development, Finance & Procurement, and Marketing, Business & HR. Within these three categories, you can choose between 11 different programmes, including both a Global and a European market access track. As I wrote in my last blog post, I am part of the European Market Access programme, which is a new programme covering an extremely exciting area of the business. The market access environment is becoming increasingly challenging and therefore it will become more and more important.

You can read a lot more about the graduate programmes in the posts on this blog or find more information on the website here. Apply from 20 January 2017 until 12 February 2017 by completing the online application and by providing a 1-minute video of yourself explaining why you are the ideal candidate for the position. Keep an eye out for blog posts in the near future touching upon the application process or read some of the older posts, like this one or this one.


Graduated in 2015 or earlier? Apply for a full-time position!

A graduate position is a unique and amazing opportunity, but it is not the only way to get your life-changing career going. Novo Nordisk is a big and successful company with more than 40,000 employees in over 75 countries. So, naturally a lot of interesting positions are available within various areas. Novo Nordisk believes in making a difference to both patients and society, but we also believe that it is crucial to grow and develop employees in order to make such a difference. Therefore, by joining Novo Nordisk – in any full-time position – you will experience a strong focus on personal and professional development. For example, you might encounter the talent and leadership development programme, and you will definitely come across the individual development plan, which includes both short-term and long-term goals for your career. So, if you don’t see a track in the graduate programmes that speaks to your professional interest or if you are graduating outside of the timeframe, there are still plenty of exciting job opportunities! You can see all available positions here and sign up for the email job agent here.


Don’t have a master degree yet? Apply for one the many student opportunities!

If you are a student and will graduate in 2018 or later, you still have the possibility to get to know Novo Nordisk better. Novo Nordisk is very interested in getting to know the talents of tomorrow, including students taking the first step on their career path. For that reason, Novo Nordisk offers internships, student assistant jobs and even has a yearly case competition called Innovation in Action. While I was a Public Health student, I participated in the case competition and I had an Internship for six months working full-time.

Innovation in Action is a unique opportunity to show your talent, test your problem solving skills, and network with other students and employees from Novo Nordisk, including people from top management. The case competition is an intense one-day event where students are challenged to work together and present their solution to a real and highly relevant case. The case competition is relevant for master students from all academic backgrounds, nationalities and universities. In order to be selected, you must demonstrate that you are a team-player and that you have a creative and innovative mind-set.

I participated in Innovation in Action in the fall of 2015, where the case asked us to come up with an innovative approach to how Novo Nordisk can contribute to improving the education of healthcare professionals on obesity and on its treatment options. Participating in Innovation in Action was my first encounter with Novo Nordisk, and I was happy to confirm my positive view of the company. I had a great experience and my fantastic team even ended up winning the case competition!


Innovation in Action 2015


Novo Nordisk offers a lot of different internships and they are a great way for master students to get valuable, hands-on work experience. It is an opportunity for a unique learning experience and a chance to turn theory into practice. To work as a Novo Nordisk intern, you are expected to be ambitious and willing to learn. So, if you are eager to start a life-changing career in Novo Nordisk, like I was, read more about internships here and find the available positions here.

I started an internship in Cities Changing Diabetes and became even more excited about working for Novo Nordisk. The Cities Changing Diabetes programme is Novo Nordisk’s response to the urgent challenge caused by the dramatic rise of urban diabetes. This was the perfect match for a Public Health enthusiast like me, especially because I got to work with research and evidence generation both quantitatively and qualitatively. I learned a lot and took so many positive experiences with me into the graduate programme – I can highly recommend spending six months on an internship, if you want to get a feeling of how it is to work in one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies.


To tie a bow on my student experiences with Novo Nordisk, I had the opportunity to come up with the case for Innovation in Action 2016, where the challenges with urban diabetes in Shanghai (part of the Cities Changing Diabetes programme) became the topic. Furthermore, I facilitated a Danish group and the winning group from the US, who was invited to Denmark to present to Novo Nordisk’s top management together with the winning group from Denmark. This was a great experience, having been in the students’ shoes just one year before.


I hope you found this overview of the many possibilities in Novo Nordisk valuable and please reach out by writing a comment if you have any questions or comments.

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From Kathmandu to Global Business Processes

Category: Business Processes | (0) comments

So you are about to wrap up your master from a good school, you have scored somewhat good grades, you might have had interesting internships and student jobs but you still keep asking yourself: what am I REALLY good at? Where can I contribute on a professional level and where should I start my career?

If you recognise the scenario above, you should read on. Because that was where I was one year ago. Just returning from exchange at George Washington University and in the early stage of my thesis writing I started to look into opportunities for post-studying life. A banner advertising for “life-changing careers” caught my interest and I started reading about the Novo Nordisk graduate programme. With no prior insights or experience in pharma, I didn’t see myself as an obvious candidate. Still, I found the structure of the graduate programme super attractive as the two years as a graduate would likely enable me to answer the questions from the first paragraph. I applied the Global Business Processes programme which I found to be a good match for my generalist profile as a master student in International Business & Politics. I was invited for a Skype interview, then I progressed to the recruitment centre and in the end I was offered the position which I accepted without hesitation.

Throughout the assessment process I became more and more keen on working in Novo Nordisk the more I learned about the company and the more I talked to people working for the company. I have been very happy about my choice and four months into my first rotation in R&D Business Support I have only been confirmed in my good impression of the company and people working here.

So why was I offered a position? Here are my (non-validity checked) guesses:

Up for challenges
I’m not afraid of taking on new challenges be it privately or professionally. If you have a positive attitude and thrive under change the programme might be something for you. When you come out of university you are far from a ‘finished product’ (you might never be…) and only by saying yes to challenges you develop yourself.

Global mind-set
When I finished high school I went to a small village in Nepal to volunteer as a teacher in English and Sports in a public school. I learned about how people can live in supposedly poor settings but still be just as happy as anywhere in the world. My time in Nepal gave me a drive for pursuing an international career and work in a company that has global impact. Since Nepal, I studied in the U.S. for two semesters and I cannot wait to go abroad and work for a Novo Nordisk affiliate on my second rotation from 1 May 2017.

Someone you would want to have a beer with
In presidential elections in the U.S. it’s often the guy/girl you’d want to have a beer with that wins the election. The other candidate might be better on ‘hard skills’ but politics as well as business is very much about interpersonal skills if you are to succeed. In such a big organisation as Novo Nordisk you need to be able to build personal relations to colleagues from your own department but also throughout the organisation. Not because you are forced to, but because it is a natural part of who you are. Being part of the graduate programme has already given me a fantastic network and through summer house trips, off-sites, dinners and parties I learn a lot about the company simply by having a good time with my fellow graduates.

In my next blog I will tell more about my second rotation where I will go outside the comfortable settings of headquarter and Denmark.

All the best,

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Why the Novo graduate programme? My Four P-s job mix!

Category: Business Processes | (0) comments

“Graduate Programme or full-time position? Home or abroad? Generalist or specialist track?” Many questions were going on in my mind one year ago, as I was looking for the right job after business school. No answer was obvious to me, and career events seemed to have become a new hobby… I blamed my indecision on my curiosity and desire to not limit my possible scenarios…In reality, I felt a lot of pressure in making a decision towards my first, real job. If you somehow also feel this way, I will share with you how and why I found an instant match with the Novo Nordisk Business Processes Programme!

So let’s press forward one year!

I am now a Global Business Processes graduate at Novo Nordisk (long names sound quite official, don’t they), and I am really enjoying my first rotation in the Triple Bottom Line Value and Impact team, which falls under the Communications, Relations and Sustainability department. How did I end up in this programme? Reflecting back to my applications, I realised that four elements were the key decision criteria. What am I talking about? People, place, progress and purpose…a.k.a. my Four P-s job mix!

People: “If I start at a big pharmaceutical company, what will my colleagues be like? Can I learn from the people around me? Can I build a meaningful network?” If you share these concerns, well, then it’s worth knowing more about this programme.

It is not a coincidence that People is the first P of this mix. In fact, I believe this is one of the programme’s main assets. As a graduate, you are exposed to an incredible network of people, and they are people like you! By rotating in three different departments, you build relations with colleagues from the most diverse areas.

In my current role, I am exposed to people with interesting mind-sets and skills that I might not find in any finance or marketing department. Most of them have been with the company for many years, which is for me not only a source of inspiration but also an important source of expertise and experience that I can consult any time. The atmosphere is easy going (not what one would expect from a pharma company), and if I have questions (and trust me, I have many!) my colleagues are always happy to help. Humbleness and respect are not just words on paper in the company.

Meanwhile, I can count on my ‘graduate family’: a mix of international and like-minded colleagues who either are or have been part of one of Novo Nordisk’s graduate programmes. It is extremely helpful to have people around you who are or have been in the same situation and with whom you can discuss ideas, share feelings and, equally important, have fun! I live with another graduate, Claudia (great blogger, too!), and it is a lot of fun!

The business and marketing graduates during the introduction week

Place: Industry, company, country and rotations are all components of my second P – Place.

When I applied for the programme, I had never worked in pharma, and I was not committed to any industry. However, I saw pharma as a secure industry with a bigger purpose, complex dynamics and varied career opportunities – all elements that fulfilled my ‘place’ criteria. Complexity and size often bring in processes and stakeholders, slowing down the decision making. For some, this might be a frustrating aspect. I personally see it as an interesting opportunity to learn how to work with and adapt to new processes and stakeholders.

In geographic terms, Copenhagen is quite an ideal place to live in: you can bike around everywhere, nothing is too far! There’s art, music, good food, nice parks for burning off the good food, and a fun nightlife. I am also learning Danish (life might be too short to learn it, though!) and will be living here until the end of April and then coming back for my last rotation in January 2018.

At the moment, I am also very excited to be moving to a new country soon. How often do you get to work and live for 8 months in places like Canada, Australia, Thailand, Chile…? Rotation options vary from marketing to R&D, finance, consulting…you name it! Of course, flexibility should be part of your personality; if you are focused on one particular aspect, the Business Processes programme might not be ideal for you. In order to learn and enjoy the programme to its fullest, you have to be open to unexpected rotations and be curious to learn about different aspects of the business. So, if change and novelty stimulate you, then this programme will make you happy!

The graduate team during a factory visit

Progress: You can be in an amazing place with wonderful people, but if there is no potential for growth, things will get boring pretty fast, don’t you think?! This is why my third P is about Progress – namely potential for personal and professional development.

As I already mentioned, the graduate programme is perfect for exploring different areas of the business. In complete honesty, I don’t think I would have ever considered working in corporate sustainability myself, but I am learning about concepts and aspects of the business that turned out to be really stimulating. Moreover, as a graduate, you get to attend project management courses, workshops and practical trainings.

In terms of personal development, you have regular individual meetings with both your graduate manager and your host manager, where you can discuss about work-related but also personal challenges and opportunities. Overall, the focus on both hard and soft skills is what I really like about this programme!

Three-day project management course in Favrholm

Purpose: My fourth and last P is probably the one that distinguishes Novo Nordisk from most companies out there. Having tried other industries before and realised that I wanted more than just money and responsibility, I purposely looked for a company with a positive impact on society. I am proud to work for a company that is working to improve the lives’ of people with chronic diseases. Especially now, in corporate sustainability, I see how Novo Nordisk engages in initiatives that go way beyond the simple sale of drugs. Being part of such culture inspires and motivates me greatly. At the end of the day, I want to be proud to tell my friends and family where I work, don’t you?

I hope this post provided you with some useful food for thought. Please reach out if you have questions and I look forward to sharing with you my upcoming adventures. Stay tuned!!

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IO Business Graduate Programme – Bangladesh: Your Walkthrough of the Application Process

Category: International Operations Business | (3) comments

I’m posting this on behalf of my colleague Saifur Rahman, International Operations Business Graduate from Bangladesh.

“It just feels like yesterday when I was going through this graduate blog hoping to come across any and every piece of information that would help me know more about the programme and especially the application process.

And here I am—the first IO Business Graduate from Bangladesh and already midway through my first rotation—writing to let prospective candidates gain a better understanding of the application process.

As there are numerous insightful write-ups available on the application process by other graduates, I would like to address and focus on the Bangladeshi candidates to help them gain a better idea on what is expected of them throughout the application. Nevertheless, due to the mostly general nature of the article, anyone looking for a few tips and tricks before applying might find some handy information as well.

Before I get into the nitty-gritty, let me list the items required for an application and with any of these missing, your application will not be considered valid at the first place. The requirements are a candidate’s CV, cover letter, video answer, and academic transcript. Here goes a gist of the dos and don’ts.

CV: This is your first point of contact with Novo Nordisk. Make sure it counts.

  • Make a customized CV

Candidates, especially in Bangladesh, conveniently have a general format finalized for their CVs and they send the same version to every job opening they apply for. What I would recommend to you is to create a personalized CV by clearly outlining your educational qualifications and experiences that are relevant to the programme. You may include training’s/conferences you attended and/or any other leadership experiences you have had but please leave out any irrelevant information that does not add any value.

  • Keep it short

Often our CVs become too long and by the time assessors are done with it, they lose interest. Remember your CV should only contain the highlights of your career so far and is not your biography. Therefore, try to keep the CV within one or a maximum of two pages by taking out useless sections like personal information (assessors are not interested in your birth date, your parents’ name, etc.).

I would advise you to prepare an informative yet concise CV which clearly emphasizes your strengths. It is also advisable for your CV to have a sleek look with a creative interface and formal formatting (please don’t use Comic Sans or any other informal formats) devoid of any mistakes. I cannot stress enough the damage any grammatical or spelling error can do to your first impression as an applicant. Hence, I would urge you to check your CV thoroughly for any typos/errors.

Cover letter: This is your opportunity to let Novo Nordisk know you on more personal grounds.

  • Let them have a deeper look into you

The cover letter’s purpose is to complement your CV and not to reiterate it. Therefore, it should either contain relevant information not mentioned in your CV or build on the information provided. Ideally, the letter should help the assessor know the type of person you are and what it is that drives you to apply for the position. Hence, it can include your personal story on what makes you a strong contender or it can elaborate on the work that you have done and how it can add value to the Graduate Programme. Just to emphasize it further, I would once again remind you to be absolutely sure of not submitting anything which has errors or formatting inconsistencies in it.

Video answer:  Enough of pen and paper, time to show who you really are. The video answer is your gateway to really leave an impact on the assessors.

For the video answer, it is absolutely essential for you to set a professional tone and hence it is a good idea to first make a script which answers the questions and then practice enough for your delivery to be flawless. The answers can be a reflection of your cover letter so you can emphasize further your suitability for the programme. It is imperative for your video and audio to be clear and devoid of any disturbance. Also make sure to look sharp, demonstrate your professional best, and shoot the video in a controlled environment.

Transcript: Although there is nothing for you to prepare for this item, it’s important for you to acquire this well before the deadline. Given the paperwork involved, the university process for providing transcripts can take some considerable time especially the public ones in Bangladesh and hence you are advised to take preparations taking that into account.

That was all from my side. I have tried to briefly shed some light on the items required during the initial application phase. In addition to what I have mentioned, there are certain general measures you should take before applying. These include doing an extensive research on Novo Nordisk, being genuine in your applications, and demonstrating your true self. Furthermore, as I mentioned in the beginning, I would recommend you to go through the numerous articles from other graduates that provide valuable information on the application process and the graduate programme as a whole.

It is important to note that this is the most crucial phase of the recruitment process as it is during this stage when the majority of the applications are filtered. Therefore, it is crucial for you to prepare these in the most impeccable way and then leave the rest to destiny. Please remember, it is not just a test of your fit for Novo Nordisk, it is also a test of Novo Nordisk’s fit for you and as you continue to plan your application, you should consider the nature of the programme and whether it is something you want to pursue.

I wish you the best of luck! And if you are all good to go, apply here before 4 January, 2016.  <LINK: http://www.novonordisk.com/careers/see-list-of-all-available-jobs.34698BR.External.html>”


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Novo Nordisk graduate or management consultant?

Category: Global Finance | (12) comments

Dear reader,

Not that long ago, I was in your shoes, trying to decide where to pursue a professional career following graduation. Many talented young people are drawn towards management consulting because of the steep learning curve, varying challenges and I could keep going with the worn-out generic list of motivations you would quote in an interview. It is, however, also because many people basically don’t have a clue what they want to do with their life so having great exit ops seems like the obvious strategy. This was at least true for me about six months ago.

Since a lot of the people considering the Novo Nordisk global finance graduate programme are also considering management consulting, I would like to share my perspectives and reflections on the similarities and differences between the two paths that might help you make a more conscious and informed decision as to where you want to begin your professional career.

In general, you can think of the graduate programme as having a consultant role anchored in one single industry. Novo Nordisk is a huge company operating worldwide with more than 40,000 employees; there are basically enough projects to satisfy everyone – even Marty Kaan. The projects can vary from the establishment of a new plant in Iran and acquiring an insulin manufacturer in Brazil to making a market analysis of a sub-segment of the diabetes market. You will still become the Excel Wizard and PowerPoint God that you are destined to be and even have the chance to acquire the same “consultant toolbox” by working on supervised projects. Especially, if you choose to have a rotation in our in-house consultant department, FLIRcon, consisting of graduates and former consultants from top tier consultancies.

You will become the expert consultants “claim” to be, and even obtain an operational perspective through your understanding of the entire value chain enabling you to deliver results and value to the business on a whole different level. You will not only get to solve the challenging tasks but actually also see the fruits of your hard work materialise. You will, however, not obtain the same cross-industry understanding of what works and what doesn’t, but you will get phenomenal business knowledge within the pharmaceutical industry.

Consultancies often advertise that senior management exposure will accelerate your career as you “get to learn from the best” and leech on the experiences, which is hard to argue against. Although, it might take a while before actually sitting at the table as a junior consultant, you will be thrown to the lions almost immediately in Novo Nordisk. I met the CFO of the company within the first week of the programme and have prepared presentations to both Jesper Brandgaard (CFO) and Lars Rebien Sørensen (CEO) during my first three months; and this comes in addition to regularly interacting with people on CVP and SVP level.

By now, you would hopefully agree that regardless of being a Novo Nordisk graduate or management consultant you will be given amazing development opportunities functioning as a decision-facilitator who drives a lot of impact. If you want to end up in a market-leading, global company with an average top line growth rate of more than 10 percent over the last decade; you don’t have to take a detour to consulting – actually, in Novo Nordisk, spending two years as a graduate will historically accelerate your career more than being a top-notch consultant for two years. As a talented and driven individual, you will most likely take great pleasure in your job regardless of the title as long as you are given the opportunity to fulfil your potential through challenging work and coaching from experienced and bright people. The only aspect that differs, is how you reach your potential – in that context, Novo Nordisk was the best fit for me.


I highly encourage you to start a discussion in the comment section if you want my perspectives on specific matters related to the graduate programme and management consulting.


I wish you all the best,


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