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“life-changing career” – What it Means For Me

Category: International Operations Business | (0) comments



June has finally arrived and in 3 months, the graduate programme for the 2015 batch will be wrapping up. In football terms, we’re in the last 15 minutes of the game with everything there is to win. Indeed, the programme has been true to its tag-line: “life-changing career”. I have learned so much about Novo Nordisk and its business but most importantly, I have learned a lot about myself. I have experienced and done things that never in my wildest dreams could’ve imagined. I have learned from most the ambitious, amazing, and inspiring people throughout the programme spanning 3 different continents.

When I was doing my master’s degree, I wanted to do something that would change the world and have a positive impact on people. (Yeah, that typical millennial mindset trying to conceal the fact that I didn’t know what to do with my life). However, I really didn’t know exactly what it was I wanted to change but I did want to make a difference somewhere, somehow. Fair enough, I had ideas yet they remained ideas with no actual plans of realizing them. Or, I was too idealistic that the changes or impact that I wanted in this world were just not feasible. It was frustrating, and most importantly, getting expensive as I was living in Boston after graduation with dwindling funds and no actual income. Everything changed when I got into the graduate programme.

For my first rotation, I went back to the Philippines. As it was my first time in the pharmaceutical industry, I had some catching up to do. The first few months were certainly an information overload. I learned more about diabetes and how the disease affects people, along with terminology such as pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and different kinds of proteins (I have a business background and in no way would I have encountered those words before).  As for my main project there, I was assigned to do a medical education event that would benefit HCPs and patients. It was exciting and I felt really great as I was finally doing something impactful. However, being a newbie in the industry, it definitely had its challenges as I had to deal with internal and external stakeholders who were far more experienced and definitely demanding. Yet, as a graduate, I got a bit of leniency and understanding from all of them.  After all, it was the beginning of a learning process. My key takeaways from that first rotation was to learn and absorb as quickly as possible, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and don’t think that you are the messiah sent from the heavens that can immediately turn things around. (But it would also be great if you can!)

As for my second rotation, I worked in the global headquarters in Denmark. As Rihanna would sing, “shine bright like a diamond, shine bright like a diamond,” which was also my approach and it was definitely a rotation where I can have a global impact; just like how I wished it to be. As my pharmaceutical experience was limited to the Philippine affiliate operations, I imagined myself as a diamond in the rough. This was certainly an opportunity to learn about global operations and be involved in projects with a global reach. In Denmark, they were more familiar with handling graduates and the expectations were more clear and actionable. In my role, it was certainly fulfilling as the projects involved more countries and with that, came a bigger impact. Being assigned there in global headquarters provided me with the opportunity to reach out and learn from global managers with different functions and from different countries. I was able to interact with various kinds of people coming from different backgrounds who have given me a wider perspective of the business and, cheesy as it may sound, life. My key takeaways from that experience was that it has set some things into perspective and most importantly, it gave me a perfect example on what work-life balance is, in addition to a concrete example of what should be prioritized in life.

Finally, for my 3rd rotation, I got assigned to Colombia. I have been living here for the last 5 months and my role has also changed to a new therapy area, which means a new set of patients and a new set of products. Compared to my 1st and 2nd rotations, I came here with a lot of confidence as I was more familiar with the operations and where to get the available resources. I feel so at home here because it’s like Philippines except that people speak in Spanish. The hospitality of the people has been amazing, not just my co-workers but people in general. Everyone has been so helpful and warm, and frankly, I couldn’t ask for more. In terms of personal goals, I have finally figured out what exactly I want to do after having learned about haemophilia and how it affects the lives of people who have the condition. Being a new parent myself, I can relate to how challenging it is to take care of a child and can imagine how much more so for the parents of children with haemophilia and of course, the patient himself. It’s a rare disease affecting approximately 1 in every 5,000 males born worldwide. It’s a disease where access to adequate care is very challenging in the developing world. Given these conditions, it’s a specific opportunity where changes can be done.

I still have 3 more months in this beautiful country but I think I already know what my key takeaway is and it has to be a combination of these; be ambitious, stay focused, be patient, say “no” at times and trust the process. Over the last 21 months, the graduate programme for me has not only been a professional growth process, but it’s also a personal development process where I learned to figure out what I can do with my life and how I can contribute to this world.



What is haemophilia? Click here to learn more.

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Networking 101: Do’s and Don’t’s

Category: International Operations Business | (2) comments

First of all, congratulations to those who have already started their interview processes. It’s going to be an exciting journey and like what my mentor has told me before, “enjoy and just be yourself!”

Over the last several days, I have received multiple emails asking for information, personal tips, and questions about the graduate programmes. I’ll just share my top 5 do’s and 5 don’t’s when you’re networking.

Top 5 Do’s

  1. Introduce yourself properly – It’s definitely a pleasure when someone reaches out to us and of course, we want to know more about you too. You’ve probably mastered your elevator pitch and it doesn’t hurt to include that as your opening statement in your email.
  2. Be punctual, don’t be late – It’s a given. When you try to schedule a call, do it at the specified time. Avoid getting late. :)
  3. Use English first – As much as we love being in your countries, some of us unfortunately do not speak the language yet. We want to understand what you want so we know what to give you.
  4. Send us a list of your questions –We want you to succeed in your application and we would most likely give out information (without spoiling your journey).  I learned this the hard way when I was networking before. When I finally met up with the person I was going to talk to, I forgot 4-5 crucial questions I needed to ask. Ever since then, I would already include my questions in the email and if I have further clarifications, I can ask the person during the meeting. Another tip, give us a heads up in the beginning of the email that you have a lot of questions. This way, we can set time aside to answer your questions properly without rushing.
  5. Keep us updated – It would be great to learn about your progress whatever the outcome is. The people I reached out to when I was still applying became my good friends and most importantly, valuable contacts when I started working. Keep the network open.

Top 5 Don’ts

  1. Ask salary questions – As a candidate, never ask about the salary at this stage. First, it’s very personal. Second, you should focus on the getting the position and getting to know the programme and the company more. Third, money isn’t everything in life.
  2. Treat it as a date – Getting invited for coffee, lunch or dinner is nice but be professional and keep it that way. Don’t flirt while exchanging messages and most importantly, during the meeting. Also, there’s an app for that! NOTE: just to be clear, a colleague just told me and I didn’t experience this first hand. ;)
  3. Be too formal – Strike a balance between being too formal and too friendly. Just relax, we’ve been through that situation too and don’t be too uptight when conducting your informal interview/networking. It’s an informal interview and we don’t decide if you get the position or not, that’s not our job. At the same time, don’t be too friendly and comfortable since that would make us uncomfortable.
  4. Be too personal – Keep the scope of your questions in a professional level. Don’t ask us about personal questions that are not related to the position. At the same time, don’t share your personal life story. Yes, we want to get to know you too but not to that level yet.
  5. Process specifics – As much as we want to help you succeed, don’t ask about when the next interview will be, what specific questions were asked, and what business cases will be discussed. You can ask your interviewer for those information, don’t be shy. Also, each country has their own interview and screening process before the GRC in Denmark so whatever happened in the Philippines might not be the same elsewhere.


I hope you keep these tips in mind when doing your networking/informal interviews. Thank you for reading and good luck in your interview process! Feel free to reach out!


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If there’s one word to describe our experience…

Category: International Operations Business | (0) comments

One of the most amazing things that can happen during the graduate programme is that you get to grow your network exponentially. You get to meet colleagues from all over the world, especially on your 2nd rotation.

In the International Operations Business Programme 2015 batch, there’s a Mexican (Guillermo), Brazilian (Joao), Colombian (Julianna), Bangladeshi (Saifur), Iranian (Navid), Vietnamese (Anh), Kenyan (Christine), Egyptian (Yasminah), Indonesian (Yudha), Russian (Nikita) and Philippines (me!). For our 2nd rotation in Denmark, we lived close to each other and we would have gatherings where we would share our national dishes, conutry’s tourist spots, cultural norms, and traditional dances. (In my case however, I’m embarassed to say that I don’t know any Philippine dances so I taught them “the Nae Nae” – and yes, I learned that while doing my masters in the United States and I can dance that very well too). We surely had a lot of fun in Copenhagen and those memories will last us a lifetime.

As we start our final rotations, I emailed each one of them to share their new office views and I asked them to describe their graduate experience in one word. For part 1, I will be featuring Anh (Vietnamese), Julianna(Colombian), Nikita (Russian), Yasminah (Egyptian), and also myself;





“I am Andy/Anh from Vietnam. I am currently in Tehran, Iran.

If there’s one word to describe my experience with the graduate program, it would be ‘unforgettable‘ (memories with friends and prestigious knowledge acquired).”







“Hello! I am Juliana from Colombia. I am currently in Bagsværd, Denmark.

If there’s one word to describe my experience, it would be rEVOLUTIONary”









“Hello, I am Nikita from Russia. I am currently in Santiago, Chile.

If there’s one word to describe my experience, it would be ‘amazing‘”








“Hello, I am Yasminah from Egypt. I am currently in Manila, Philippines.

If there is one word to describe my experience, it would be ‘enriching‘.







And this is my current view, I am currently in Bogota, Colombia.

If there is one word to describe my experience, it would be “fantastic





Stay tuned, I’ll be posting part 2 in a few days from my colleagues in Kenya, Thailand, Dubai, Mexico, and South Africa.

Also, here’s a tip from my personal experience and from what I have learned in business school. When I wanted to learn more about the International Operations Business Programme 2 years ago, I invited the Malaysian graduate, who was in the Philippines for his 3rd rotation, for a dinner meeting and coffee. Talking to him in person was much better than exchanging emails. Plus, he was more open to answering my questions.

Good luck!

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What will you gain from joining a Graduate Program?

Category: Global Finance Global Marketing International Operations Business International Operations Finance | (14) comments

The Pharmaceutical Industry

Firstly, you will have the chance to work in the dynamic pharmaceutical industry. I find the industry interesting for two reasons. The first reason is the several different components that need to be in sync for a company to be successful. Due to the nature of the products Novo Nordisk produces it is essential that collaboration is carried out effectively at all times.  I have seen this on several occasions, but it is never more evident than when leading up to a product launch. It is immensely interesting to see several different departments seamlessly working together to ensure the successful entry of a product into a market.  Secondly, the pharmaceutical industry is rapidly changing due to technological advancements, aging populations, scientific breakthroughs and economic factors. Each element will have different effects on the industry but I believe these elements will lead to particularly interesting innovations, strategies and tactics. I personally look forward to observing the changes in the industry and being part of a few of them.

International Experience

Majority of the graduate programs offered include a rotation or rotations abroad. This provides you with a global working experience. This adds to your CV and helps you build a more comprehensive view of the world.  I already relish the experience of working in a multicultural affiliate on a daily basis and have definitely grown as a person due to it over the last few months. It has given me an opportunity to improve my communication skills, which I must admit I thought were much better than they actually were. It has also given me the opportunity to deepen my understanding of different cultures. So far I have interacted and worked with individuals from Denmark, Turkey, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Namibia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, India, Algeria, Spain, Australia, Tanzania, Uganda & Botswana.  I know my first and second rotations abroad will enhance my skills, challenge my views and enlighten my global outlook.

Multifaceted Working Experience

The graduate programs aim to provide an individual with a profound understanding of Novo Nordisk as a company and its business. Each program differs in its area of focus, however through the rotations: projects, roles and responsibilities will change. This will occur in a different department or therapy area and affiliate/business area. I personally feel this will be hugely beneficial because at the end of the program an individual will have had the experience of 3-4 different working environments. This provides an individual with the opportunity to enhance their cultural skills, communication abilities and increase their capacity to adapt.  These are crucial skills to have in any global industry today.

The “Good Feeling” (I’m sure your perplexed please keep reading)

My initial view of the pharmaceutical industry was not very positive mainly due to the negative articles and news pieces I read as a high school & university student. Prior to making the decision to apply for one of the graduate programs I conducted research through the website and several news sources. I was pleasantly surprised to see what projects/campaigns Novo Nordisk is involved in and the respectable manner in which it conducts its business. Novo Nordisk, through its projects/campaigns helps provide treatment to children with type 1 diabetes, increase access of insulin to the base of the pyramid and train doctors on treating diabetes effectively.  In addition to this Novo Nordisk established the World Diabetes Foundation and the Novo Nordisk Haemophilia Foundation.  The Triple Bottom Line is the way Novo Nordisk conducts its business. The company understands that it is important to behave in a manner that takes into consideration financial, environmental & social factors.  It feels great to work for a company that constantly gives back to society and provides help using its expertise. It feels even better to know that the company wants to ensure that its activities do not negatively affect the markets it operates in.

If you would like to gain all of this and more apply here.

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To be or not to be part of the International Operations Business Graduate Program?

Category: International Operations Business | (6) comments

Hello I am Peter Njoroge and I will be blogging on my experience as an International Operations Business Graduate in Middle Africa. I have looked through several job descriptions in the past and I have noticed that often they do not clearly explain what it will be like if  you are successful. I will attempt to answer this question.

This graduate program unlike other programs is aimed at giving an individual a multifaceted understanding of the key business functions of the company. This includes finance, project management, commercial operations, market and business understanding.

As a graduate you will be given several day to day tasks from day one. I am currently in the marketing department and my tasks range from feedback evaluation to follow ups with marketing material suppliers. Majority of these tasks will require minimal supervision but assistance and guidance is always available. In order to successfully undertake these tasks you have to be highly organised, motivated and proactive. Some of these tasks will be routine while others will be extremely interesting. In life there will always be tasks you enjoy carrying out more than others but must be done. This unfortunately is no different in a company as great as Novo Nordisk.

Graduates are also assigned one off tasks which differ in importance and duration. In my experience so far I have organised events, assisted in preparing key presentations and conducted data analysis. Each of these tasks has been extremely interesting and eye-opening.

All graduates have projects they are assigned by the departmental head. These projects differ depending on the department you are in, but will usually last for the duration of your rotation. This is your opportunity to shine as you will be directly responsible for the success or failure of this project. The project allows you to learn new skills, expand existing skills and gain in depth knowledge on the company and the market you will be carrying out the project in. This will become your baby trust me. I have worried about my project, gone through some sleepless nights because of it and have been extremely proud when it has reached one of its intended milestones.

Lastly one important component of the graduate program is training. This is carried out in several forms. There are online trainings, practical/classroom trainings and conferences/seminars. Novo Nordisk has excellent systems in place to ensure that you are well trained in core areas. The systems also afford you the opportunity to expand your skills as you wish or deem necessary. I was rather frightened by the prospect of joining a pharmaceutical company due to the fact I did not have a pharmaceutical background. I now know that I had very little reason to worry as I have easily picked up the critical medical aspects of our key therapy area Diabetes through the forms of training mentioned above.

Each of these aspects of the program will involve lengthy meetings, telephone conferences, presentations & travel. Most importantly exchanges with highly motivated, exceedingly intelligent and did I mention polite individuals.

I hope my insight and experiences have provided a clearer picture of what it is like being an International Operations Business Graduate.

If you believe this is the position for you apply here.

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An Insight from Novo Nordisk Egypt Affiliate

Category: International Operations Business | (8) comments

Fresh morning air comes in as I wake up early in the morning with a new day ahead. I can still recall the rush I had when I got the acceptance call for Novo Nordisk International Operations Graduate program, a 2 year program designed to develop a global and mobile talent pipeline through 3 rotations in 3 different functional areas within Novo Nordisk. I am now finally fully functioning in my fist rotation at the local affiliate in Egypt; this thought is enough to fill me with enthusiasm as I head to the office going through busy traffic at the rush hour.

What seems to be a quiet day as I take my first sip of morning coffee soon turns to be one of those usual busy days as I check my email inbox in the morning to find it fully stuffed with loads of new tasks lying ahead. This is what I call a daily challenge at Novo Nordisk, lots of new tasks and lots of follow ups to perform which I find quite interesting to stretch my capabilities and challenge my skills beyond my well known capacity.

However challenge never stops at this point of new tasks to perform; as my first rotation is in the marketing department in Novo Nordisk Egypt, I am supporting the work of a big project to develop the Diabetes business in Egypt by working on promoting several Novo Nordisk devices and insulin products, in my responsibility I have to deal with different vendors. One of the vendors dealing with the dispensation process of Novo Nordisk products to different clinics across Egypt, it is a very fast paced process that I have to follow up and ensure zero drop down for Novo Nordisk products dispensation. Challenge comes up as I am informed one morning that the vendor will close its activities in Egypt due to financial issues; I have to contact the vendor, negotiate and follow up to ensure our products dispensation will not cease as well as contacting alternative vendor and negotiating a new offer in a short time to get the process back to track. This is an example I wanted to share of the fast paced environment at Novo Nordisk that triggers the most efficient use of skills as well as pushing the learning curve to new scopes.

Contacting vendors to come up with the best price-quality combination to ensure that our promotional materials will come up in the best quality as well as managing this within the best efficient use of the budget. To reach such goal each day is full of meetings, networking and approaching vendors. Organizing events for promoting our products, ensuring logistics placed efficiently, following up on events with reports and budget tracking. All of these tasks are part of a big project to promote the Diabetes business in Egypt which I am currently involved in during my first rotation in Egypt.

I have shared with you an insight from my experience at the Egyptian affiliate which is mostly operational oriented. I think the interesting part of the Graduate program is allowing the chance to rotate in different functional areas combining operational and strategic experience which both will help to fast track career path.

More insights are found on the Graduate blog and if you are interested in knowing more about the program, then please check the IO Graduate Program site where you can find the program open in many countries among which is Egypt and also for 2015 the IO Finance Graduate Program is open in Egypt which you can check at this link.

Feel free to drop me any comments below.


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Tips for interviews and how you are selected…

Category: Business Processes International Operations Business International Operations Finance Uncategorized | (8) comments

Dear Candidates,

Now the light at the end of the tunnel is seen. Less than 10 days left to apply.  Do not forget to apply before 9 Feb. What will happen after 9 Feb? I will share my experience of selection process in Turkey Affiliate. The process may vary affiliate to affiliate, year to year and program to program. Though, I will share my selection process assuming this may help you to understand the main shape.

After application, your CVs will be examined carefully and if your qualifications seem to be appropriate for the program, you are called by local HR.

They direct you to independent selection center to measure your English competency.

If you are able to get needed score of English, then it means you come to next level.

You are invited to meet with directors and you are interviewed for your background and qualifications. They try to know you both academically and personally. For this part; my suggestion is “be yourself, please do not pretend since they will catch you by cross questions…”

You are invited to the assesment center. It takes half day and you involve various interviews, case studies in which you work with other candidates. For this part, my suggestion is ” do not try to play the role of leader instead be the motivator. Never get too ambitious and aggresive, instead try to compromise and result oriented. You may need to accept the ideas that you do not really like. Accept them if it helps to reach a solution and saves you from the endless debates… Please be aware of this:  you do not need to make everybody believe your ideas, instead be open to change and respect others’ values as well. ”

Now, you passed to other level. You are invited for the presentation session. You are provided with a laptop and a business case. You solve it and get ready for the 20 min presentation. Those will happen in an hour. You can not be prepared earlier. My tips for this part ” Be smart as much as you can. Be familiar with marketing terminology and try to suggest various cases. Think more and make a well defined presentation. Your presentation skills should come to stage. Do not forget to use proper language and be energetic and be motivated and be yourself…Again !”

If you pass this level, now a test will be sent. It is like an intelligence test both verbal, analytical and visual. Weird shapes are designed according to specific algorithm and you are asked to understand and imitate this algorithm to another set of shapes. It is fun actually. For me the hardest part was verbal, since the texts are very long to read and the time was too short. You need to be hurry and make skim reading. The analytical part was fun, too. If you like mathematics and familiar with algebra, it is not a big deal. But again, in each part you race with time. Do your best, since the scores will be kept and informed to you in assesment center in one interview. One more tip: be sure that your internet connection will never be broken down during test, for this you can choose using cabled internet instead of wifi.

Now, the local part is over. You are invited for the final assesment centre in Copenhagen. You meet the other candidates and work with them for  group assignments.This part takes 2 days, you really get exhausted since you need to wake up very very early in the morning: Like 5:00 in the morning…You need to be healty and energetic for those days. When your energy falls down, your performance may get worse… Eat well, sleep well, wear smart, try to speak English fluently, be friendly and be open. Be open to anything. Be sure that somebody from the assesment team is watching you and taking notes about your reactions. This situation may seem stressful, but i should admit that I enjoyed a lot. I learned a lot, and I even thought that I am glad to have this experince even if I would not be selected… You go home satisfied and enjoyed…

Here you can find, what we have experinced in final selection with our words:


Now, it is their turn. You did your best. Your scores and comments about your performance will be gathered and analysed carefully…

After the process ends and they come to a result, they will let you know. The job offer is made towards the end of March and you sign the contract in April. The first day of work will be in September. Welcome !!!!

So, though the process seems to be long, it is fun and unforgettable experience. Go for it… Apply before 9th of February. Here is the link:


Good Luck, Best Regards





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