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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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Mornings at Kobenhavn Lufthavn (Copenhagen Airport)

Category: International Operations Business | (4) comments

Monday, it’s 4:30 AM and my alarm goes off. It’s one of those mornings when I needed to fly to one of the affiliates in Europe for a project meeting. I got out of bed quickly, did my morning routine, called the cab, and set off for the airport.

Transportation in Denmark is very convenient and dependable (compared to Philippine standards). I got to the airport precisely at 5:30 am and went directly to the security check. Right after the security screening, I got a cart and as I looked back, lo and behold, it was the 2-time Harvard Best Performing CEO of the World: Novo Nordisk’s very own Lars Rabien Sørensen. He was alone and without any assistants or bodyguards tailing him. Coming from a country which was proudly (and embarrassingly) awarded Selfie Capital of the World by the Time Magazine in 2014 (http://time.com/selfies-cities-world-rankings/), it was an opportunity of a lifetime, burn to the ashes or rise like Pheonix!

I stopped and waited for him, thinking about what to say and contemplating if I should take a selfie with him or not. It was 5:45 AM and as he was approaching, I finally had the courage to say hello and I briefly introduced myself. We exchanged pleasantries, I asked him where he was going and he also asked me where I was going. As we parted ways and went to our respective gates, we wished each other a safe flight and said goodbye.

Certainly, it was one of the most memorable experiences I had while working in the Global Headquarters in Denmark because it demonstrated to me a working culture that has a flat structure in contrast to the Philippines’ working culture. In the Philippines, it was very rare to talk to bosses unless spoken to, especially western foreign bosses. It’s a sad reality coming from a culture with more than 450 years of being under foreign rule (400 years – Spain, 50 years – United States) although I must say that there has been a significant shift in the last couple of years. Also, local bosses in the Philippines tend to think too highly of themselves which is not very conducive for collaboration. That’s what I found interesting in Denmark, you can simply say hello to everyone, even the big bosses. I even rode the same public transportation with some Corporate Vice Presidents, Directors, and Senior Global Managers, and etc. The office layout is very open and you can get seated and learn beside these amazing people. If you don’t know anything and you have questions, you can simply ask and book a meeting room. Everyone is pretty much approachable and this trait is very important for collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Indeed, working in Denmark is one of the best experiences I’ll ever have. It’s not my ambition to work there again any time soon as I know that I have a long way to go in terms of front-line experience and local and regional market execution. My ambition is to go up the ranks first locally and hopefully the International Operations Graduate Programme will have provided me with this opportunity for the future, by going back to the Philippines with a global experience after this rotation.

Now you may be wondering if I took a selfie with our then-CEO or not, the answer is no. Considering all factors; 5:45 AM, Monday, assumingly without breakfast and coffee, I didn’t want to be that annoying person. I took the higher ground and presented my professional-self to the biggest boss of the company. In that brief moment, I was very humbled.

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People around matter!

Category: International Operations Finance | (0) comments

When and how do I learn the most?..

What motivates me the most?..

These are two different questions but I came to a conclusion that the answer to both of them for me is very similar…

Before jumping to my recent learnings, I will take a few moments to get you up to date on my current story. My International Operations (IO) Finance Graduate Programme is getting closer and closer to an end. I have been around in different functions and levels of the organisation: in Business Area/affiliate role, in Sales regional office and headquarters collaborating with various departments on projects ranging from IT and waste management to Global Research. The content of work also varied from operational tasks and tactical process design to strategic projects and initiatives. A good palette of functions, geographies, formats of tasks and (most importantly!) people…

My first day in Business Area Commonwealth of Independent States (BACIS) office, Moscow. During one of my first lunches with the team I was impressed to discuss not only my background and master thesis that I had just successfully defended; relatively soon we dove into discussions related to organisational development, employee motivation, behavioural economics, etc. I felt at ease to share my recent findings from HBR or Economist, ask questions about status quo in the organisation and potential areas for improvement. Collaboration with my first manager and department director ensured that I felt comfortable to ask questions, openly share my ideas and ask for feedback. These people remained an integral part of my learning journey even when I left BACIS organisation for further rotations.

…And many many more helpful and supportive people in the Russian affiliate and BACIS office…

My first day in internal consultancy department (Novo Nordisk Consulting). I got introduced to the department, went over a few organisational lectures and was allocated to my first project. After having quickly met my project manager, I was right away given a task to put together a few slides. The first challenge was by far not the hardest task that I was given afterwards on the projects. It was however a preview and early indication of the work rhythm and spirit in the team. From the first task onwards, my work in a new department was highly engaging and challenging; every teammate was given his or her share of responsibility and freedom to drive tasks and take the initiative. I quickly realised that my project manager is very result-oriented (as opposed to me sometimes); therefore, he inspired me to approach tasks execution as efficient and lean as possible.

Another person who I was fortunate enough to have met during the rotation was my development manager. High requirements to quality of deliverables (including re-doing one document over and over again to reach the required standard), practical recommendations related to problem structuring, top-down communication and many other issues in question were invaluable for my personal development.

One of the project owners was very inspiring for me as a people manager role model, a great example of how well strength-based feedback and self-development can work (how often do you reflect upon what you are really good at and celebrate success achieved due to your merits?) and in general how value-adding knowledge sharing can be…

…And many many more motivating and astonishing people in headquarters…

My 135th day with IO Finance and Local Manufacturing & Business Development teams (and other amazing colleagues in IO regional office). My rotation is still not over, thus I wouldn’t sum the experience up just yet as every day is so enriching in terms of self-learning and self-assessment thanks to diverse people around: crisis management, leading negotiations, self-organisation and task prioritisation, situational leadership, etc.

I hope my remaining one month in the department and Programme would still be rich and vivid with learnings and supportive atmosphere formed by… yes, you guessed it: people around me!

I have a short story to share:

A mother wished to encourage her small girl’s interest in the piano, so she took her to a local concert featuring an excellent pianist. In the entrance foyer the mother met an old friend and the two stopped to talk. The little girl was keen to see inside the hall and so wandered off, unnoticed by her mother. The girl’s mother became concerned when she entered the hall and could see no sign of her daughter. The staff was notified and an announcement was made asking the audience to look out for the lost little girl. With the concert due to start, the little girl had still not been found. In preparation for the pianist’s entrance, the curtains drew aside, to reveal the little girl sitting at the great piano, focused in concentration, quietly picking out the notes of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’.

The audience’s amusement turned to curiosity when the pianist entered the stage, walked up to the little girl, and said “Keep playing.”

The pianist sat down beside her, listened for a few seconds, and whispered some more words of encouragement. He then began quietly to play a bass accompaniment, and then a few bars later reached around the little girl to add more accompaniment. At the end of the impromptu performance the audience applauded loudly as the pianist took the little girl back to her seat to be reunited with her mother. The experience was inspirational for everyone, not least the small girl.

…I don’t know about you but I learned that people around me matter A LOT! They can inspire and motivate, support and teach, encourage and impact choices. My hopeful and (a little) idealistic wish is to keep on learning from people around me. And keep on meeting many many more talented and impressive people along the long way ahead…

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Be yourself at GRC – who else can you be?..

Category: International Operations Finance | (2) comments

The final countdown until the Graduate Recruitment Centre (GRC) is on. Hours of preparation are behind; emotions are at peak and expectations are high.

I have a piece of advice to share (and from my perspective it is pretty important, so without further ado): Do NOT try to be anyone else but yourself! Instead, try to leverage your strengths and peculiarities to stand out and make observations whether the company/particular Graduate Programme is a good fit for you.

Firstly, it is not easy to fool sharp and analytical people. Especially sharp and analytical people who specialise in recruitment like Novo Nordisk assessors. In general, it would be extremely challenging to consistently prove that you are someone who you are actually not.

Secondly, it is faulty to think that there is only one way to be outstanding. Let me give you an example on group work. According to Belbin, in order to be a fully functioning – effective and efficient – team, you need to allocate nine team roles (and it is only one approach to team work). Therefore, there are numerous ways to contribute and add value in a shared task.

You may also benefit from personality tests like Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Such instruments may help you structure own understanding of yourself and be confident with who you are.

Thirdly, ensuring the company is the right fit for YOU is pivotal. The situation is a classical demand-supply problem: given N amount of Graduate positions, there are X amount of candidates in the pool to choose from. However, it is also correct the other way around: given Y job opportunities to choose from you can start only from one option. Therefore, use GRC as a platform to communicate with current graduates, alumni and potential colleagues to find out whether Novo Nordisk is indeed your fit.

10…. 9… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1

Best of luck!

The Jay and the Peacock

A Jay venturing into a yard where Peacocks used to walk, found there a number of feathers which had fallen from the Peacocks when they were moulting. He tied them all to his tail and strutted down towards the Peacocks. When he came near them they soon discovered the cheat, and striding up to him pecked at him and plucked away his borrowed plumes. So the Jay could do no better than go back to the other Jays, who had watched his behaviour from a distance; but they were equally annoyed with him, and told him:

It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds.

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Is initiative only a buzzword?! (Being an IO Finance Graduate in Novo Nordisk)

Category: International Operations Finance | (1) comments


When I was a potential candidate for the Graduate Programme and afterwards when I was a fresh graduate, oftentimes guest lecturers concluded their speeches with a recommendation to be proactive, eager to stir up “as-is” way to improve processes – in short, to take the initiative. For me personally, it has been hard to believe these “buzzwords” stumbling across them in speeches, business articles or case studies, make them tangible in real life and make them applicable in my own graduate program at the beginning.

However, it has already been over a year since I joined the company – dynamic, exciting and challenging year. I guess now it is a new chapter of the journey…


I spent my second 8-months-rotation at Headquarters in Novo Nordisk Consulting department – internal consultancy of 12+ ex-consultants and ex-graduates supporting ambitious and challenging projects in different Novo Nordisk organisational units. During the time spent in the project office I came to a few conclusions that appeared to be rather value-adding for me. They may be of value to you as well.

  1. Everyone likes a Problem Solver.

Problem Solvers are like Supermen – they are wanted everywhere.

Issues and challenging tasks emerge with an incredible pace. With time, the pace is getting only faster and managers are faced with more and more tasks. Therefore, they are eager and happy to delegate responsibilities. The conclusion is rather straight-forward: if you are ready and mature enough to take the responsibility, it is yours.

  1. It is easy to obtain responsibility; it is far more difficult to maintain it.

I remember an inspirational talk from one of Novo Nordisk top managers. He recalled a few focal points in his career when he had to make a decision whether to grasp a new job opportunity or continue developing on a current position. The paradoxical conclusion he came to was the following: when a fantastic job opportunity emerges, one needs to be honest and as objective as possible with him- or herself – are you ready not only to receive a catchy title but also carry out challenging tasks that a particular job entails?

During my rotation in Novo Nordisk Consulting I was given an opportunity to be a team lead on the project. Certainly, I was feeling proud and honoured to have received this amazing chance. However, there was not a single day when I did not feel responsibility, complexity and sometimes stress that reminded me of a new role. It has also become a major source of professional learning and development for me. But I can elaborate about this later, if relevant.

  1. If you need something to happen, it is your responsibility to make it happen.

I believe the single limiting resource is Time. (I already shared a few thoughts on this topic in this article.) It can get translated into money, people or physical resources; however, it all boils down to time.

On the other hand, in the world, in the company, even in your team there are numerous ideas waiting to get executed. However, not everything can get implemented due to resource constraints.

In that sense, the project management aspiration is to have a transparent overview of all good ideas/ projects and prioritise them according to a set of given criteria, so that not a single great idea gets overlooked. The project executor dilemma is then to show value added by the project and find resources at least to try it out and prove by a prototype or a sample that it is worth pursuing.


Before concluding I wanted to share one fable or short story – whatever you want to call it. If it makes you think about initiative in your life (eg preparation for interviews, decision to prefer one offer over another, etc), it is doing the job just fine regardless of the name… I hope you will enjoy the read and let me know if you have any follow-up questions.

…And speaking of the initiative, it is time to make yourself stand out during the interview rounds!
Read more here and here… and in other great articles of my graduate colleagues.

Best of luck,



Two sons worked for their father on the family farm. However the younger brother had for some years been given more responsibility and reward. One day the older brother came to his father and asked to explain why.

The father said, “First, go to the Kelly’s farm and see if they have any geese for sale – we need to add to our stock.”

The brother soon returned with the answer, “Yes, they have five geese they can sell to us.”

That father then said, “Good, please ask them the price.”

The son returned with the response, “The geese are £10 each.”

The father said, “Good, now ask if they can deliver the geese tomorrow.”

And duly the son returned with the answer, “Yes, they can deliver the geese tomorrow.”

The father asked the older brother to wait and listen and then called the younger brother in a nearby field, “Go to the Davidson’s Farm and see if they have any geese for sale – we need to add to our stock.”

The younger brother soon returned with the response, “Yes, they have five geese for £10 each or ten geese for £8 each; and they can deliver them tomorrow – I asked them to deliver the five unless they heard otherwise from us in the next hour. And I agreed that if we want the extra five geese we could buy them at £6 each.”

The father turned to the older son, who nodded his head in appreciation – he now realised why his brother was given more responsibility and reward.

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