In the case of Morten Engelund, now Corporate Vice President of
Finance and Operations for Region Europe, sometimes it takes moving
from Denmark to Turkey, a volunteer event and a shared love of rock
‘n’ roll, to orchestrate a magical harmony between a career and a passion.
Having had experience as an external auditor for KPMG, Morten began
his life-changing career at Novo Nordisk in one of our finance
functions. He soon stepped into his first managerial role in group
internal audits with responsibility for the financial and IT audits.
After some years, he was offered the position of Finance and
Operations Director for our Turkey affiliate headquartered in Istanbul.
This exciting opportunity presented two primary concerns for Morten:
How would his family thrive in a foreign country and would he still be
able to jam on his guitar? Placing trust in his course and a guitar in
his hand, he set out for an unforgettable adventure. It wasn’t long
after moving to Istanbul, that Morten realized he had nothing to worry about.
The year was 2013, and both Novo Nordisk and the Turkish Republic
were turning 90 years. As a TakeAction initiative, our Turkish
affiliate office committed to doing 90 hours of volunteer work for the
local community to honor the 90 year accomplishments. At the time,
Morten had come to learn that his colleagues Akin Aksekili, Sales
Director at the time, had a talent for singing and playing the bass
and guitar, and Can Okar, Public Affairs Manager, was Jerry Lee Lewis
on the piano and a fantastic singer. They decided to round up their
instruments and performed at an elderly home: “With just 2
guitars and a keyboard, that is how it all started,” Morten
recalls. Cenk Ozengin, Logistics Specialist from the Turkish
affiliate, later contributed his beats as a drummer, and the four
musically-gifted colleagues formed NovoBand.
In 2014, the band took part in a music competition called “From
Office to Stage.” “We had around 100 colleagues show up to support
us,” Morten explains, “it’s an alternative way to create
employee engagement, but it’s certainly one that works.” The
band made it all the way to the finals, taking fifth place.
NovoBand acquired the attention of other Novo Nordisk offices around
the world, and they were soon invited to play a concert at a
hemophilia conference in Lebanon. Not long after, the Novo Nordisk
headquarters invited NovoBand to Copenhagen to perform, and since, the
band has played at various global meetings around the world. After
four years in Turkey, directing Finance, Supply Chain, and IT
operations for the Novo Nordisk business areas in the Middle East,
Morten returned to Denmark as Senior HR Partner and Executive
Assistant to Executive Vice President of Business Services &
Compliance, Lars Green.
After 1.5 years, Morten accepted his current role as Corporate Vice
President of Finance and Operations for Region Europe.
“Moving to Turkey gave me the opportunity to meet these wonderful
guys. We have played together for almost five years now, at least
whenever we have the chance. It has been quite an interesting
journey from where it all started, full of fantastic opportunities.”
Today, NovoBand has welcomed Christina Steen, Media Relations
Manager and vocalist. With the band members now working in four
different locations within Novo Nordisk, Denmark, Switzerland, Turkey
and Kuwait, it isn’t easy to find time to practice together. But of
course, as Morten puts it:
“pursuing a career and my ‘internally exposed passion’ is always
a balance because my job comes first; we cannot just run around
and play music. So in that regard, I need to be very focused on
specifying what are and are not the right priorities.”
Morten expresses that he feels supported by management:
“I feel that Novo Nordisk provides with an outlet to pursue my
passion, as they continue to invite NovoBand to come and perform
from time to time. Our band is a like a team that comes together
outside of the office and shows our spirit and support for our
colleagues in our own melodic way.”
Morten believes that it is imperative for him and others in the work
force, to find spare time throughout the day to engage in activities
other than work. For him, he tries to get in at least 30 minutes of
practice each day.
Leaders often have different hobbies to recharge their mental
batteries so that they can take on the work-tasks at hand with full
force. For Morten, playing music and participating in NovoBand is his
way of doing so.
“I can easily have weeks with a heavy workload where I don’t have
time to play, and that is okay. But you must remind yourself that
it is also okay to have room to breathe; to separate yourself by
partaking in something outside of work that gives you clarity.
That is important.”
Playing guitar in NovoBand has given Morten more than just space to
pursue his career and passion. It has furthermore allowed him to build
international friendships that redefine the meaning of colleagues.
Keep on rockin’ Morten!