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Are you ready for a cultural challenge?

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こんにちは(Ko-n-ni-chi-wa)from Japan!

If you had asked me two years ago, then I would never have had imagined that I would be living and working in Japan. But here I am, four months of my second rotation have passed in the blink of an eye and it has been the biggest challenge for me in my professional career. Entering the graduate programme of Product Supply I knew that my second rotation would be at one of our production sites around the world. My great colleagues in the Product Supply programme are currently on rotation in the US, France, Iran and Denmark. Usually the second rotation in the Product Supply programme is at our sites in the US, France, Brazil, China and Denmark, but this year we have graduates in both Iran and Japan.

Picture 1

A picture from a fishing trip with my colleagues

So how do you prepare for working abroad? What I did was that I started attending Japanese classes every Monday evening. I quickly discovered that Japanese would be a difficult language to learn, but more importantly, that the cultural differences between Denmark and Japan were bigger than I had anticipated (or least that was what the textbook said). This was further strengthened by the cultural awareness course that my colleagues and I attended before embarking on our second rotation journey. When comparing the two countries on different cultural dimensions you would usually find Denmark at one end and Japan on the far other end. With an increased cultural awareness and tools to tackle cultural differences I moved to Japan in May to begin my second rotation at Koriyama factory as the only foreign employee. Having worked here in Japan for four months now, I can confirm that some of these cultural differences exist. Exchanging business cards using both hands, bowing instead of shaking hands, swapping out the knife and fork with chopsticks and being addressed as Jacob-san are all natural to me now and part of my everyday life here in Japan. There have of course also been cultural challenges, which from time to time have been frustrating. Eventually you learn to tackle or accept these challenges either by changing your behaviour or by understanding the why. So have a changed the way I work? No. For me it has been important to be myself even more, exposing my Japanese colleagues to Danish culture at first hand on a day to day basis. In the end working with different cultures comes down to a matter of understanding and having respect for other people’s way of work. You might wonder; so how big is the cultural difference between Denmark and Japan? In my experience it is smaller than I expected. The global mind-set and values of Novo Nordisk are key reasons to why the cultural gap is smaller than that described in the textbooks. It is fantastic to see that the values that Novo Nordisk emphasizes in Denmark also are finding their way to a packaging site in the country site of Japan. To give a real life example, my good colleague had a single day off in three years (to go the interview at Novo Nordisk) before joining Novo Nordisk in Japan. Now he has just returned from two weeks of vacation. As I see it, it is not a Japanese packaging site in Novo Nordisk, but a Novo Nordisk packaging site in Japan. Living in Denmark I knew that I wanted to work for Novo Nordisk. Had I lived in Japan, Novo Nordisk would still be my first choice.

Picture 2

So if you are looking for a unique cultural challenge at first hand, then the Product Supply Graduate Programme is a good place to start. Unfortunately the Product Supply Graduate Programme will not be open for applications next year, but fortunately for you there are a lot of other graduate programmes in Novo Nordisk that offers the same cultural experience.

Best,Jacob

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Last Minute Application Tips!

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Let’s face it, you are probably writing you application, just now, while reading this post. Either you just became aware of the application deadline or you are like me – always doing everything the last minute ;)

Unlike others, I would argue that this is a good thing, because if not, you wouldn’t have been able to include all my very useful last minute application tips (based on my own experience) in order to make it through to the first interview!

For all the international applicants let me first make it clear that in Denmark an application is both a resume (or CV) and a motivational letter (or cover letter) and if you like you can even put a picture of yourself on the resume :)

There is not much time left so why not just go ahead with the tips:

1.    Focus on your resume

I am not an HR expert, but think about it.. if you have several thousand applications to look through and you just have a few minutes to do it, what is the easiest thing to do first? Skim the resume. Why? Because it gives you a brief and relatively structured overview of the candidate’s qualifications and experience. Therefore, make sure that your resume is very sharp and no more than 1-2 pages long. There are a lot of great articles or blog posts out there telling you how to build up a great resume – use them!

 2.    Make use of concrete examples in your motivational letter

In order to make your motivational letter unique you should make use of specific examples when explaining your competences (or else it could be anyone writing it!). As an example when explaining that you possess leadership skills give a concrete example from a group work situation at your university, or the like, where you took some specific actions in order to make things happen and drive the changes.  

 3.    Use formatting and layout to stand out

Why not be a little creative and use a few colours or structure your text in bullet points? It gives a great overall impression and makes your application stand out from the black and white crowd. However, remember not to overdo it! Too many colours can make it look very unprofessional. Bullet points create structure and make it easy for the eye to quickly skim through a lot of information.

 4.    Be personal – be yourself

Make sure to give a little bit of yourself meaning we want to know who you are besides from your professional skills. If you have used tip number 3 you have already showed that you like to be creative, but what about mentioning what you do in your spare time and how you can use that in your working life. Everything counts and the better the person reading your application gets to know you the more curious he or she becomes.

I hope you find my tips useful and that it is not too late to make use of them :)

Happy Writing,

Christina

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Am I Smart Enough for the Graduate Programme?

Category: Product Supply | (2) comments

With 10.000 applications for all the Graduate Programmes last year (2014) it can be quite intimidating and even a bit overwhelming to apply. You might think:

 “How will I ever get through the eye of the needle with that many applicants?” 

Or

 “Why would they pick me over others? I might as well just stop trying” 

Right there – in that very second – Novo Nordisk loses a lot of great candidates for the Graduate Programmes! This is very unfortunate, as these candidates (and that might be you!) will miss out on a great opportunity to work for one of the leading companies in the world within diabetes treatment.

I know exactly how it feels. Before I applied I asked myself a thousand questions, among those:

“Do I have what it takes to go all the way?”

  And

“Am I really smart enough?”

My one and only answer to those questions are: Of course! Just do it! What is there to lose? If you don’t apply you will for sure not get it :)

In order to land a graduate position you do not necessary need to have the highest GPA at your university (at least I didn’t!). The focus is on the combination of your professional (“hard”) and personal (“soft”) skills. Furthermore, you need to ask yourself if you possess all the “general competences” that characterizes graduates compared to employees in regular positions.

The following questions might help you with that:

  • Adaptability & Change Readiness – Are you ready to change department every 8 months?
  • Mobility – Are you ready to live and work abroad for at least 6-8 months?
  • Leadership – Do you like taking responsibility and drive changes?
  • Global Mindset – Are you ready to work with colleges from different cultures?
  • Creativity & Curiosity – Do you like solving difficult problems in an innovative way?
  • Teamwork – Do you like working in multifunctional teams?
  • Comfort Zone – Are you ready to step out of your comfort zone in order to achieve your goals?

If you can answer yes to most of the above questions then the Graduate Programme might be for you, if not Novo Nordisk has plenty other positions to apply for, so go ahead!

For the graduate application start asking yourself “how do I make myself stand out from the crowd?”. You can do that in many different ways. Here is what I did:

 

  • I met face-to-face with Novo Nordisk graduates

By going to a Novo Nordisk graduate event at one of the many universities or career fairs we visit throughout the year you will have the chance both to talk with a few graduates and to find out more about the different types of programmes (e.g. if being in a graduate programme is something for you? And what programme you would fit into the best?) You can also use the event to “show your face” so to speak, because as many people say: networking is everything!

Career_fair_2014

 

  • I made sure to get something extraordinary on my resume

While you are studying you should make sure to get something on your resume. It can either be a student job, a professional sports activity or volunteer work. Take a look at my LinkedIn profile to see what I did throughout my student years to stand out.

 

I hope you’ll get inspired,

Christina

P.S. I will cover more tips for writing a good application in my next blog post, so stay tuned :)

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Are You an Engineer? Then Read This!

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In case you are wondering if Novo Nordisk is only hiring people with a pharmaceutical background the answer is NO of course not. I myself am a design engineer from the Technical University of Denmark and was recently hired for the Product Supply Graduate Programme.

You also might wonder if you need to have any specific knowledge or experience with the pharmaceutical industry in order to apply for the programme and again the answer is NO, not necessarily. I had a student job in a medical device company – yes – and I wrote my master thesis together with another medical device company – yes – but that didn’t make me an expert in the pharmaceutical industry at all!

In fact, before I started the Graduate Programme Novo Nordisk sent me a 300 pages long American textbook (yes, it is one of those where the author is paid per word…!), which had everything I needed to know about the basics of the pharmaceutical industry. And here I thought that I would never have to open another textbook after I graduated, but I guess I was wrong :D

To be fair, the book was great! I read it outside in the sun during my summer vacation (which of course made reading it much more pleasant!) and it gave me such a good overall introduction to the industry that I felt much more comfortable when I started the programme in September. So, no worries if you, like me, are an engineer and don’t have much pharmaceutical experience :)

(if you click the link above you can even start reading the book and expand your knowledge today!).

What Can You Do As an Engineer in Novo Nordisk And As A Part of the Graduate Programme?

First of all, Novo Nordisk hires many different types of engineers everything from mechanical engineers to chemical and management engineers. Obviously, I don’t know what all of them are doing, but I can tell you what I am doing as a design engineer in the production and as a part of the Product Supply Graduate Programme.

I am currently having my first rotation in Supply Chain Planning Quality Assurance. Here, I am working with the distribution and storage of all Novo Nordisk products around the world making sure that when the products are delivered to the end-users they are of the highest possible quality. This is done by, e.g. ensuring that the products are always transported in a cold chain.

Being a part of Supply Chain Planning gives me a great overview of the entire supply chain and makes me understand the complexity of supplying different markets with different products at different times.

Quality is a very important aspect in the pharmaceutical industry and also in Novo Nordisk, as the lives of the end-users are depended on our products. Therefore, having a quality mindset is a must when working for Novo Nordisk – so if you don’t have it already start practising :)

Happy Reading,

Christina

P.S. Not sure you have the skills to join the Graduate Programme? Stay tuned for my next blog post!

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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

Motivation
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!

Enjoy
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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How does Product Supply work?

Category: Product Supply | (1) comments

During my first months in the PS graduate programme I have been trying to answer this question every day, but it is not that easy. PS is a big organization and has around 10.000 employees in Denmark, Brazil, China, France, Japan and US, and represent a substantial part of Novo Nordisk. PS mission is to be the best supplier of pharmaceutical products. During my two years as a graduate I am offered the opportunity to work in different parts in the value chain, in different countries, with different types of projects and get a first-hand experience of how the different parts of PS fulfil the mission every day. In this blog post I will tell you about what I have done myself and how the programme help me to answer: “How does Product Supply work?”.

Lunch dates with the Biopharm management

My first rotation is in Biopharm that produce pharmaceuticals for haemophiliacs, hormone replacement therapy, and growth hormone therapy. Biopharm is a part of PS that employ 2000 people and has most of the production facilities located in Copenhagen. Biopharm has all steps of the value chain and is therefore usually described as a small Novo Nordisk within Novo Nordisk. To find out more about Biopharm, me and Alexander Hildenbrand Hansen(see video about Alexander´s experiences from the graduate programme), invited people from the management to have lunch with us to discuss possibilities and challenges within their area. Discussing the business with people that has been around since long before I joined NN, give a strategic understanding for how and why the business has developed the way it has. When my 4 months of experience from one department in Novo Nordisk met the managements many years of experience from throughout the company, you quickly realise that answers are not that black or white as they first appear, but rather grey.

 

PS sites

From Denmark to France and beyond

Every month me and my fellow PS graduates in Denmark meet at one of the graduates’ site to see something interesting from production, exchange experiences and discuss challenges in our projects. In December we visited my colleague Astrid Sjögren(see video about Astrid´s experiences from the graduate programme) in Kalundborg at the largest production site for insulin where we looked at the API production of diabetes pharmaceuticals on a production line that is being rebuilt. In January we are going to our production affiliate in Chartres, France for a graduate training week where I will meet Ying(profile), Samantha(profile) and all the PS graduates from the other sites. Meeting graduates from the affiliates and hear about their workday and challenges are valuable for me since you at the HQ in Denmark sometimes forget that Novo Nordisk is a global company. Before Christmas I hopefully get to know where to spend my 2nd rotation, which will be at one of the production affiliates outside of Denmark. I cannot wait to know if I am spending eight months in Brazil, France or US for eight months next year!

In my next blog post I will describe my project and how I put all my knowledge into action to succeed with my current project! If you find the post interesting read more about the Product Supply Graduate programme here. If you have any questions, send me a comment and I will get back to you asap!

Merry Christmas,

Mattias

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An Economist’s Guide to Procurement

Category: Global Procurement | (0) comments

During the last months I heard myself say one sentence over and over again:

”Hey, my name is Klaus and I’m a Global Procurement Graduate…”

 And I’ve heard the same response almost as many times:

“Ehh.. Does that mean you are buy stuff?”

No, you don’t purchase stuff as a Procurement Graduate. You will not take part in the transactional or operational part of it (i.e. placing orders).

But your work and projects will revolve around suppliers and Novo Nordisk’s need for materials, goods and services. It will involve collaboration with specialists from Quality Assurance, R&D, and Operations on supplier-related projects and it will require an ability to navigate in a quite diverse landscape of stakeholders while equilibrating the commercial impact and other interests.

“So what do you actually do as a Procurement Graduate?”

Well, what I do in my first rotation in Strategic Sourcing is 1) developing category strategies (e.g. electronic components or packaging material) and 2) executing the strategies in place.

Developing a sourcing strategy is, in short, about analysing the demand side and the supply side. It is about understanding business needs and the demand from the production, the characteristics of the supply market, the players and the competition. The goal being to be able to devising actions for optimisation of the supply chain setup – how to reduce supply risk, improve commercial terms, quality and delivery while simultaneously supporting and encouraging social responsibility in the upstream supply chain.

The natural follow up is the actually execution of the strategy which could involve improvement projects with incumbent suppliers or contracting with a new supplier, which would require market research, supplier evaluation, due diligence and of course negotiations.

And what does that have to do with Economics?

Not always much… but often one common personality trait of the people working with it: curiosity. I choose to study Economics and Finance out of curiosity and working in procurement and sourcing definitely requires a curious nature…

Are you the curious type? 

Then see www.novonordisk.com/Global-Procurement-Graduate for more information and how to apply for a position as Global Procurement Graduate.

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Two pieces of advice for all of you who have not already applied!

Category: Product Supply | (1) comments

Here are two pieces of advice for you who have not already applied.

1. I was at a career fair recently talking to some students about their next step in life after the university. We talked about NN graduate program and similar setups in other companies and many of their reflections were that the competition sometimes can feel overwhelming. I got the feeling that this almost made them not apply sometimes. What I said to them and what I want to say to all of you that are thinking something similar:

APPLY – JUST DO IT!

If you do not apply you have no chance and if you do you have a good chance (probably a better chance than you think). And the difference is infinitely large from not having any chance to having some!

2. When you apply, here are some last advice for your application that I think are good to keep in mind:

–      Add grades in your application, how can we otherwise know if they are good or not?

–      Read thoroughly what we look for at the webpage and explain with examples why and how that is you.

–      In what way can we see that you have an international mindset? Tell us and motivate.

–      PS is the production part of the company, why are you interested in that? And why are you interested in NN?

–      Why should you be picked as a leadership candidate which is part of being a PS graduate? Just mentioning leadership is not sufficient, give examples and explain why.

–      Do not only repeat your CV in your cover letter that is just a waste reading the same information twice. And you miss your chance in higlighting what is important and why you are special besides the facts that are stated in the CV.

Hope that this inspired some of you to apply who did not think of it before. Remember that the last day is 10th of February.

Let me know if you have any questions!

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