Archive for '2018'

Using Technology as a Vessel for Empathy

30 April 2018

Working for one of the largest players in the pharmaceutical industry, employees are often asked by external spectators if they genuinely feel that their contribution makes a difference in such a dynamic and complex corporation. In response, Matt Dugan, Business IT Manager for Central America & Caribbean at Novo Nordisk Panama, shares his story on how a creative idea, which began as a casual conversation over a cup of coffee with a fellow colleague, developed into a global game changer:

“I have quarterly talks with different Product Managers in the Panama office to discuss opportunities we can take in digital, what we can do with these emerging technological trends, and how they can be applied in Novo Nordisk. One day, I was having coffee with Adriana Caruso, Product Manager, and we were discussing the challenges her team was facing. I was poking around to see if there was anything interesting where we could incorporate new technology. Our discussion turned to the topic of hypoglycemia and the lack of proper understanding by non-patients. Very few people can imagine what it is like, let alone, know much about it.  For most of us, it is only through personal experience that we can begin to understand with compassion, what someone else is truly going through.

I happen to have a virtual reality headset on my desk, so we grabbed it and started brainstorming. We then made a story board and involved medical personnel and internal patients in our idea. With our then small team, we pitched our idea of using virtual reality as a vehicle to create a concrete experiential moment for those who do not suffer from diabetes, to our local management. With our ambition to create a tool for empathy, the confidence I had in our team, and the support from our managers, I was inspired to turn the seemingly impossible, into a reality.

The process went relatively quick and what started as an idea in June 2017 was launched that same year in September, and scaled rapidly thereafter. Since then, the VR headsets have travelled to Novo Nordisk offices around the world to spread our hypo virtual reality experience, and are now implemented in 12 countries with a growing list waiting to try it out. It has been incredible to see so much cross functional global support across the entire organization, and we now have many more ideas in the works.

Due to the rapidly changing nature of technology, the speed of execution and the tone and timing in which we as a company approach a creative idea, is changing. Today, if you have an innovative idea that supports business progression or serves a business purpose, you can put a plan together quickly and get the necessary support and resources in place to implement, with little resistance and red tape. In general, the market has significantly become more concentrated; therefore, the barriers to entry have significantly decreased.  Respectively, Novo Nordisk has become notably more agile than it has been in the past, which I attribute to the incremental value digital solutions can provide overtime. This especially allows for individuals at Novo Nordisk, such as myself, to exercise their creative freedom and have room to innovate.

With a background in technology and agile project management, it has always been my desire to identify new opportunities utilizing innovative digital technologies. With this project, I wanted to prove that innovative initiatives, such as virtual reality, are imperative to the health and growth of our organization at Novo Nordisk, and that we should continue to invest in emerging digital commercial technology. When we look at how we can utilize these applications, the possibilities are endless and can have a huge impact on our future. Within technology, there is a never ending mountain to climb in regards to digital innovations.  As for my digital journey thus far, there are still many interesting unknowns to discover, of which I am excited and ready to explore.”


From Getting the Internship, to Getting the Offer

26 April 2018

Before Novo Nordisk, Peter Haurum, Senior Project Associate at Novo Nordisk Consulting, was an economics student at Copenhagen University (cand.polit). He spent most of his time balancing studies and a semi-professional career as a soccer player, as well as a Student Assistant position as an Investment Analyst. After three years in the financial sector, Peter felt he wanted to expose himself to a broader set of challenges. With this aspiration, Peter found himself curious about the pharmaceutical industry.

When the opportunity to become a Project Analyst Intern at Novo Nordisk Consulting presented itself, Peter felt an urgency to apply. However, he also recalls feeling hesitant when deciding if an internship was the right choice, given his ongoing studies. This was during the time that the Novo Nordisk Internship Program required full-time attendance. Nevertheless, Peter was up for the task, and balanced his responsibilities by studying on the weekends and working during the weekdays. For Peter, this structure worked very well and he was delighted to discover that his department was very flexible in the periods where he had a deadline or exam.

During his internship, Peter says, “I had the steepest learning curve I have ever experienced.” Being in an environment with highly-intelligent and ambitious colleagues, and working full-time, enabled Peter to quickly acquire the skills he needed to make an impact early on. After his internship, he was offered a position as Project Associate. Because of his internship, Peter felt it was a smooth transition into the work world, and that the skills he acquired then, are those he continues to use today, In addition to these skill sets, he also gained a large network within Novo Nordisk, both locally and across the various functions. During his internship, he had many opportunities to participate in social events to meet fellow interns and to attend inspirational talks were he was exposed to different aspects of the organisation e.g. Research & Development and Product Supply.

If you want a career in one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, Peter believes an internship position is a great way to kick-start your career. Whether you are in doubt to do an internship alongside your studies, as Peter was, he encourages you to “just do it!” The lessons he learned along the way were invaluable and if given the choice, he would do it all over again. “You aren’t ‘just’ a student, you are a member of the team, and doing an internship prepares you not only for a job at Novo Nordisk, but for the skills you will need for your future career, wherever that may be.”


Using My Femininity as a Power: A Conversation with Aditi Valecha

08 March 2018


Aditi Valecha’s career path to Senior Global Project Manager at Novo Nordisk was anything but ordinary. She began her professional life as an oral-dental surgeon in India, and later did her master’s in Clinical Research at the Medical University of Southern Carolina in Singapore & Charleston. It was then that Aditi found herself on the path towards pharmaceutical development. Directly after the completion of her studies, Aditi was in a position that allowed her to travel around the world. With influence from her upbringing, it was during this time that she understood from a global perspective the powerful advantage that women bring to professional environments.

Growing up in Delhi, India, Aditi describes the 80s as a time where not many families considered boys and girls equal. She recalls as a child being told by those around her, “fight like a boy.” She would respond, “No. I am a girl. And I will fight like a girl, and I will be better than a boy.” Despite her environment, Aditi was fortunate to be born into a family where women were given respect and where her maternal grandmother was a feminist. In a way, her influence encouraged Aditi to become the outspoken woman she is today. To young Aditi, it didn’t matter if it was a woman, a man, or an animal being wronged, she would always speak up for others, and especially for herself. More often than not, she found herself standing up for more feminine issues, but reflecting upon this, she says, “for me, it is not about being a feminist, it is about human equality; however, in order to ask for equality, one has to be a feminist. And to do this, we need to empower women in general.”

This did not always come without a little kick-back. Aditi remembers a time working at a company in Singapore where an older, male colleague continued to disregard her questions and inputs. Having had enough, she stood up for herself, only to be confronted with, “You need to stop being aggressive, remember you are an Indian woman.” For Aditi, speaking up for what one believes is right can make them subjected to mockery and harsher judgement, “It can get ugly sometimes, other times it leaves you at a loss for words, but this adversity is what makes you stronger. People can go two ways, either run from it, or face it and learn from it.” Choosing to face these challenges, Aditi believes, made her wiser, introspective, and prone to read between the lines.

Today, Aditi works directly with 21 countries where she, throughout the day, must flip between diverse cultural and professional norms. Living and working in several countries throughout her life and career, Aditi has a global understanding and cultural awareness of not only how to best communicate to her different affiliate offices, but also how to navigate effectively and address each culture as a woman in her position. Aditi says, “Not just being female, but a young female, you tend to have to overcompensate.” She wouldn’t say that women necessarily lack respect, but there is a need to prove one’s worth within the first few moments of meeting someone. Conducting oneself a bit differently and adapting adequately for each situation and culture is required. However, Aditi considers the femininity of women as a power source, rather than a hindrance to accomplishing her goals. She believes it is about a balance of being soft, seeing things from a different perspective, and being assertive, but not harsh—that is the most powerful combination. Aditi has learned how to use these skills tactfully in her approach with each team she works with.

As a woman working globally, Aditi believes it is essential to know oneself and understand the feminine edge all women possess. “With depth and clarity, know what you want, how to achieve it, and assert your goals. Share and discuss more with the people you meet abroad, or your colleagues in your local office. If you share, you might inspire others to improve their own career.” Aditi advises to not become petty and competitive with others, and that the only competition one has is with oneself. “If something doesn’t quite work out for you, it just wasn’t your time. Maintain a healthy balance between self-competiveness and patience—work hard to seek out your goals and enjoy the ride.” And most importantly, she emphasizes the value of knowing and understanding from within that one’s true worth should never be measured by human comparison, cultural, gender, age, or any other factors. Mutual respect is the foundation that is born out of this knowledge. For any healthy and productive work environment to exist, it is about embracing this fundamental truth and understanding one’s social setting, so that together they can thrive and accomplish exceptional things.

The greatest leaders have nothing to do with the question of gender, they are those who have the mind of service to others and are best suited for the job. For women in business around the world, there is still a long way to go, but Aditi believes that she has found, at Novo Nordisk, the values that resonate very much with what she personally believes in terms of respect, equality, ownership, and having a patient centric mindset approach at all times.