Tim Slee

Age: 46 years

Nationality: Australian

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Social Studies, Psychology and Social Policy, University of South Australia

Working for Novo Nordisk: 12 years

Job title: Senior Global Director Degludec Brand Team, Global Marketing

Tim Slee

Senior Global Director Degludec Brand Team

“I feel a huge responsibility because if I get my job right, then millions of people will benefit. But if I get it wrong, then even if we have a wonderful new therapeutic option for people with diabetes they may never get to try it.”

Creating a success

I feel like I’m working at the heart of the company, where all the work done in clinical development sees the light of day and starts impacting the lives of doctors, nurses and people with diabetes.

My current job in marketing is to take what those doctors and patients are telling us and communicate it back to our colleagues in clinical development so that they can shape the data we have on our new drugs. I then communicate the results back to the doctors and patients so that they can see the benefits of our new therapies.

In some ways it’s like being given a lump of clay. We can shape it into a sculpture or we can turn it into garbage. But in our world that lump of clay is worth its weight in gold as it represents a huge amount of investment and lots of brilliant science. And I don’t want to be responsible for not turning it into a work of art!

Delivering results

I started working at Novo Nordisk over 12 years ago. I've worked in global marketing in market research, then communications, then heading up a launch team. I've worked out in the market as head of a launch team in Canada and then in Australia as a sales director. Now I'm back in headquarters putting all that experience to work again on our future product launches.

Novo Nordisk is not a big pharma company that can invest hundreds of millions in launching a new drug and then wait for the investment to be recouped in the long-term. We need success from the moment our product hits the shelves. We therefore have to use our available resources in a clever way, be more focused and very ambitious.  I think this makes you smarter as we have to achieve more with a lot less than our competitors. This is our reality and I like this challenge.

My experience is if you show you can deliver, you are given the opportunity to do something even more challenging, to go and explore your potential and the business even more. I value the huge variety of roles available in marketing and sales. With our vibrant pipeline of potential new products there will definitely be no shortage of opportunities. I don’t think I will ever get bored of launching new products – I’ve found where I want to be!

Sales and marketing in synch

To work here you have to be a fantastic team player and know how to really engage people. In marketing you have to build support and consensus among your colleagues and get buy-in both up and down the line. In sales you have to engage customers with your passion and enthusiasm.

I think there is a real benefit for people to gain both sales and marketing experience. Both are different, but rewarding, roles that need each other. In sales you have to engage the doctor and solve problems based on input from marketing. In marketing you get the chance to shape the product strategy based on feedback from sales. There is enormous benefits to knowing how both sales and marketing work.

Over the years I have worked with many different colleagues in both sales and marketing and almost invariably they are dedicated, passionate and professional people. It gives me so much energy working with people who always challenge themselves and you to do better. As I have risen through the company so have many of the people I started with – a testament to how exciting it is to work here as the company has retained so many talented people.

Taking pride

If you don’t live in Denmark you may not have heard much about Novo Nordisk. I could tell you what I think is great about working here, but I’d urge you to ask our customers - the doctors and nurses who work in endocrinology and haemophilia – what is special about this company. In my experience the feedback is overwhelmingly positive.

We recently did an anonymous survey, asking our customers who they would trust most to launch the next big breakthrough in diabetes, and more than 80% of them said “Novo Nordisk”. If customers have this level of trust in the company, it also reflects on the people who work here. High praise indeed!

I have a file in which, over the years, I’ve collected all the letters I’ve received from people with diabetes, their husbands, wives, mothers or fathers. Not long ago I received a thank you letter from the mother of a young girl with diabetes. She said that she used to have to wake up every night at 3am to check her daughter's blood sugar and make sure she was okay. But since starting on a new insulin from Novo Nordisk she has been able to sleep through the night for the first time since her daughter was diagnosed. Making positive changes to people’s lives – even seemingly small ones - is very powerful. Feedback like this is what gets me up in the mornings even when I'm exhausted.