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My Personal Mantra: Patience, Presence & Persistence

Category: Business Processes Global & European Market Access Global Marketing International Operations Business International Operations Finance People & Organization US Rotational Development Program | (10) comments

Dear All,

You might be wondering why it has been silent on the blog for a while! Here’s the answer: all of the 2nd year graduates were busy moving on to their international rotations. So as Francesca has specified in her post a couple of months ago, we are pretty much spread out on the globe. Some of us stayed within Europe, others moved to Asia, South America or, like me, the US. You can find some pictures of my first weeks here below this post (scroll down).

I met a couple of you during the Graduate Recruitment Centre, which took place end of March in our HQ in Copenhagen. We are so excited to welcome our new graduates to the company in September! During the Recruitment Centre, a couple of you approached me and asked me about my career aspirations, how I define success and how I keep motivated. As I did not have an answer readily available from my back-pocket, you really made me think about these topics in more depth. It’s tough to put a name on each of these things and the points that I will mention in this post are probably not complying with any MECE rule that consultants use. But let’s get started!

1. Patience

A lot of recent graduates that just finished business school talk about fast-track careers, have a really high expectation about their starting salary and extremely narrowly defined set of responsibilities that they want to take on. And, quite honestly, I was one of them as well. Through my time at Novo Nordisk, I have really learned to appreciate patience when considering career aspirations. This is not to say that I am not ambitious, I sure am – this more means that patience and curiosity will most likely take me further than the perspective I had when I graduated from business school.

 2. Presence

There is a pretty good book about mindfulness called “Wherever you go, there you are”, written by Jon Kabat (who is a Professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School teaching Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society). The concepts he describes are very applicable to a career as well. When you are present in your current job and dedicate all your resources to what you are doing in your current role, you will not only be able to reach your goals (e.g. change diabetes), but new career opportunities will most likely pop up as a result of that. That’s how I define success.

3. Persistence

The third and final point, persistence, is how I keep motivated. I am usually not someone who gives up after the first try, so if something doesn’t work, I try harder the second time. If things would always work the first time we do them, it would mean that we already know everything there is to know about a certain topic, and personally, that sounds very de-motivating to me. So being persistent, seeing things not working, but trying again, is what really motivates me in my job.

These three points have of course to be taken with a pinch of salt: the first two points on patience and presence, for example, require some degree of satisfaction with the role you are in. For the third point, persistence, I don’t mean that it isn’t frustrating to try things over again, but it for sure is motivating.

Anyways, I hope that this post gives you a perspective on your questions during the GRC. In my next post, I will cover what my new role here in the US is all about.

Feel free to post a comment should you have any reflections or questions!

All the best from Princeton,



Welcome message of the new team


My desk – with lovely gifts from my team in DK :)


Graduates everywhere – dinner in Princeton with Graduates from Regulatory Affairs, Global Development and Business IT!


Day at Jersey Shore


Charming Princeton

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Q&A about the GRC (Graduate Recruitment Centre)

Category: Business Processes European Finance Global & European Market Access Global Finance Global Marketing R&D Global Development R&D Regulatory Affairs | (2) comments

If you are reading this graduate blog post, you were likely invited for the Graduate Recruitment Centre (GRC) in Copenhagen next week – so first of all congratulations! You are in for a fun and intense day filled with group exercises, presentations and networking. This blog post is based on three questions I have received from a candidate participating at the GRC next week, so I hope the rest of you can use these answers as well.


1. How do I prepare my personal compass?

The personal compass is your opportunity to demonstrate to the assessors who you are as a person deep down. Use the presentation of your personal compass to tell the assessors your story and include personal elements you wouldn’t normally put in a CV or application. The aim for this exercise is to get to know you better and learn more about what drives and motivates you. A good advice is to prepare examples from your past experiences that demonstrate how you behave in specific situations. This is also highly relevant in the interviews many of you will have on Monday.


2. How do I make the best impression during the GRC?

It might sound a little lame, but you give the best impression by being yourself! You were chosen for a reason and you were chosen among a lot of talented people, so keep in mind that Novo Nordisk finds YOU interesting. To give the best possible impression, think about why you are interested in the pharmaceutical industry, Novo Nordisk as a company, and the graduate programme you applied for. A big and important part of the GRC is the group exercises where you engage in problem-solving tasks. Here you will be assessed on what role you take in the group, how you contribute to the group dynamics and how good a team-player you are. Don’t hesitate to take initiative, but do it in humble way where you make room for the other group members as well.


3. What was your personal impression of GRC last year? How did you like it? Was it stressful? Were there any social activities etc.?

My impression of the GRC last year was really good! I didn’t quite know what to expect, but was positively surprised by how great and fun the experience was. The schedule was definitely tight (even though we had two days), but I didn’t find it stressful. You will have breaks during the day where there is time to mingle and get to know the other candidates. In regards to social activities there is a dinner at night (which I assume you already know), where you are not assessed and can enjoy the nice atmosphere and food together with some of us current graduates and the assessors.



A picture from the GRC 2016

Let me know if you have comments or more questions and read Mathilde’s GRC tips right here.

I wish you the best of luck – don’t forget that you deserve to be there, so give everything you have, this is the only chance! I can recommend to watch some motivational TedTalks if you need a little extra energy.

I look forward to see you all the GRC!

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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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3 Strikes You’re Out? My Unique Graduate Recruitment Center Experience.

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

Over the course of your life I am sure there have been many moments where you needed to be at your best and yet the world was working against you. Perhaps it was spraining a wrist before a basketball competition, falling ill before an important presentation, or waking up to a snowstorm on the day of a can’t-miss exam (maybe this last one is solely a Canadian experience…). Whatever it may be, it is during these hardships that we find where our true strength lies and how we perform the face of adversity. I had to learn how to overcome one of these moments at the Graduate Recruitment Center (GRC) just last year.

It all started two weeks before the GRC where I sustained a very mild concussion at volleyball practice. Strike 1. I could lie and say that I sustained the concussion after making a heroic dive during a drill, but in reality I whacked my head on a low-hanging wooden beam after tying my shoes. Fortunately it was such a mild concussion that by the next morning I was back to my normal self.

Fast forward one week and I am at volleyball practice again, unaware of the impending tragedy I was about to face. While playing a game with my teammates I miscalculated a jump which led to a really bad landing and a severe ankle sprain. Strike 2. I was already begining to feel the stress of the GRC and here I was, one week away from the big event and unable to walk. Luckily, within days of my injury I went from being immobilized, to hopping around with crutches, walking with crutches, and finally, one day before the GRC being able to walk freely, albeit very carefully. What a relief!


Less than 24 hours before the GRC I found myself with a bacterial infection. Strike 3. At this point, all I could do was laugh. Bad things come in three’s right? Perhaps this last event occurred to give me the perspective of just how necessary pharmaceuticals are in our daily lives. One can only imagine.

So here I was, arriving at the GRC all in one piece physically, but definitely shaken from the various medical hurdles I had faced mere days before. Combined with the nerves of the event and how intimidated I felt compared to my competitors, I definitely was not feeling my best. I believe this really showed through, and while I never had a horrible presentation like some other past-graduates have written about, I just wasn’t being my complete self. My Day 1 self-assessment: mediocre at best.

As I sat in my hotel room at the end of that first day I decided that I needed to adjust my attitude and mindset for the next 24 hours or else I was not going to get the job. I started with a skype conversation with a friend where I ranted about my experience and received some encouraging advice. Then I watched (and re-watched about 10 times) a motivating youtube video (click here, seriously, it’s great!). Finally, I asked my friend to text me positive quotes throughout the next day and ended the night by creating a pump-up playlist to wake up to the next morning. This active decision to change my attitude, to give this competition my best shot, and to truly be myself resulted in an exponentially better Day 2. I was energized, I was motivated, I was happy, I was confident, and most importantly,  it showed! Without that turn-around decision the night before Day 2 I guarantee that I would not be sitting here writing this blog post.

The lead up to the GRC can be nerve-racking enough, especially if you are flying in from halfway around the world, have had a similar terrible lead up like myself, or have experienced something much worse! The key to overcoming these unpredictable set backs is to have tools that can get you out of your funk. It’s ok if a bad performance during the GRC momentarily knocks your confidence down, just ensure that it doesn’t keep you down! Start strategizing now about how you can have the best GRC possible, and be prepared to face hurdles and overcome them.

Best of luck!



For previous posts on our blog have focused on what happens at the GRC and strategies to cope(click here).

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Novo Nordisk graduate programme – from application to Executive Management

Category: Uncategorized | (4) comments

As you may know, we received 9.648 applications from 130 nationalities for just 42 graduate positions this year.

Amongst those to welcome this year’s selected candidates to the Graduate Recruitment Center in Copenhagen was Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen. Lars has a special story in Novo Nordisk; together with 5 other newly graduated professionals, he started in the company in 1991 as the first-ever graduate in Novo Nordisk.

I was privileged enough to be interviewed together with Lars, and another former graduate, Mads Stoustrup, who started in 2001 in the company’s first business graduate programme, and is now the general manager in Switzerland.

Read more about what a graduate entry to Novo Nordisk really means in the article “Novo Nordisk graduate programme – from application to Executive Managementhere. In the article, Mads and Lars also give their advice to new and future graduates.

My advice? Be yourself, work hard and enjoy the learning journey.


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Next stop: GRC 1-2 of April

Category: Product Supply | (1) comments

Congratulations to all of you who made it through to the final stage – the Graduate Recruitment Center in Copenhagen, Denmark. The GRC is two exciting days filled with interviews, group exercises, and meeting people from all over the world. By doing some preparations, you will help yourself, to show the best of you during the two days. In this blog post I have gathered my own tips + tips from the other current PS Graduates in Denmark. 

If you are curious about the actual agenda of the GRC, I advise you to read Ying´s blog post. For this year’s GRC there are some changes, but Ying´s blog post definitely provide you with relevant insights about the different elements of the GRC

What do you find motivating about and why are you interested in; the pharmaceutical industry, Novo Nordisk, Product Supply and the graduate programme? Why do you want to enter a leadership programme and why do you want to be a leader?

It is not easy to answer all of these questions, but you need to try. Remember it is not only you who is being interviewed. You should also be ‘interviewing’ the company. What answers do you lack to be able to answer above questions? Preparing some questions to ask the interviewer will help you decide whether NN and the PS graduate programme is the right thing for you. By searching for answers to questions where you are in doubt, you show a true interest and motivation for the position.

Know yourself
During the personal interview you have the opportunity to elaborate on what you have written in your application. Be prepared to talk the interviewer through your CV. Why have you made the choices you have made, what you have learned from your experiences, how have you tackled different situations and what would you have done differently today? What are your strengths and what are your weaknesses? How do you use your strengths and what have you done to improve your weaknesses? One important aspect is reflecting on your own behavior and making conclusions to support your own personal development.

Actions speak louder than words – providing examples from your experiences that show how you behave in specific situations are the best way to convince the interviewer. As mentioned in the job ad you should be able to give specific examples of taking the initiative, motivating others, handling complex situations, driving improvements and learning from feedback.Are the examples showing a clear coherent picture of you, the fit with the graduate programme and why you are the best candidate for this job?

Group excercises
A big part of the activities during the GRC are exercises where you as a group engage in problem-solving. I think the group exercises are the most important element during the GRC. Which role do you take in a group? How do you create alignment in a group, set direction and ensure an efficient work process that makes use of the entire group´s capacity? Do not be afraid to take initiative – but do not be a smartass!

During the two days you will constantly be evaluated by assessors. You will also meet a lot of other talented applicants. All of this can be stressful, but do not focus too much on everyone else. Do your best, be yourself and do not waste energy in projecting something that does not feel natural to you. Enjoy 2 hard days of great fun: It is a tight programme, and you will be challenged a lot. However you should also see this as an opportunity to meet and have fun with approx. 100 other candidates (for many of you, your future colleagues). Finally, sleep well, have a fresh mind, eat properly, take it seriously but have fun and last but not least, be relaxed and be yourself.
Meet the current PS graduates during the GRC
Take the opportunity to come speak with current PS graduates at the GRC.
Where: 1st floor outside of the big group exercise room
When: 1st of April 16.00-19.00 + 2nd of April 13.30-15.00.

Even though you will have tight schedule there will be free time and it will probably benefit you to chat with one of us for a few minutes. You can ask us about almost anything you want!

 PS grads DK


See you at the GRC!
Mattias and the other PS graduates from DK

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