Employee perspectives

From the family restaurant to a life-changing career

Elizabeth Papasimakis, a Senior Manager of Operations Fermentation, shares her journey of going from working in the family restaurant to working as a lab scientist, and then finally landing her latest role as a Senior Operations Manager in Production at Novo Nordisk’s DAPI site in Clayton, NC.

A Greek native, Elizabeth Papasimakis came to the United States with her family when she was 11 years old.  “That was kind of a culture shock for me,” says Elizabeth, now a Senior Manager of Operations Fermentation in the Diabetes Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (DAPI) site located in Clayton, North Carolina.  Determined not to pursue the family restaurant business, Elizabeth earned an undergraduate degree in biology and stumbled upon her first job by chance when a patron of the restaurant came in one day and offered her a position working as a lab scientist.

 

Fast forward 10 years and looking for a change from her 80-hour work week, Elizabeth embarked on a new journey of opportunity and work-life balance when taking up her first position at the Novo Nordisk Diabetes Finished Product site.   It was “an experience completely different” than what she was used to and after working for another 3 years in Quality, Elizabeth knew it was time for another change.  “I wanted it [her next job] to follow my career path which, my ultimate goal was to see something from beginning to end,” and so she set her sights on Production.  Despite previous disappointing interviews where she received feedback of lacking in production experience, Elizabeth didn’t give up the hunt for the next opportunity.  When a Production Shift Manager position became available and after receiving encouragement from HR and senior level management, Elizabeth decided to squash her fears of being under qualified and apply for the job.  Her determination paid off though and she achieved the position in Production – and she hasn’t looked back since. 

 

Elizabeth is now working at her current role as a Senior Operations Manager in Production and has since transferred over to the DAPI site in Clayton, NC.  A nearly $2 billion-dollar investment, DAPI is the largest health sciences investment in North Carolina state history and the first Novo Nordisk Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) manufacturing site outside of Denmark.  The massive facility will offer an expected 700 jobs once fully operational and will be responsible for producing APIs for the company’s diverse portfolio of GLP-1 and insulin medications.  DAPI will ensure Novo Nordisk continues to meet the future demand of diabetes medications across the US and continue the company’s role as a global leader in innovative diabetes care and treatments.

 

However, despite working in a state-of-the-art global manufacturing plant, when asked what’s the coolest part about her job, Elizabeth says “It’s seeing everyone work together.”  Responsible for the oversight of the Operations Team in Fermentation, Elizabeth describes that playing witness to people discovering their potential and seeing individuals thrive both in and outside of her team, is what brings the most joy to her job.  So much so that the proudest moment of her career was watching an individual that she hired pave their way to success and promotion within the company.  Elizabeth becomes emotional as she recounts this individual’s story of starting out in an entry level Operator role and how they earned multiple promotions and now works as an Operations Specialist role.

 

Elizabeth has immense pride in the company’s commitment to fostering a mindset where everyone works towards the same shared purpose of improving patient lives.  “There are no levels,” states Elizabeth, “If you’re out there in the building, on the operational floor, you won’t be able to tell a different between me, my director, the SVP or an operator…and that’s the mentality.  Everyone is the same.”