Getting the Best of Both Worlds through Mutual Understanding

Beatrice Yang, Global Project Manager within Global Medical Affairs, works daily to recruit and retain patients for complex clinical trials and is adamant that there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

In her daily work, Beatrice interacts with health care professionals and colleagues from all over the globe, involved in any one trial and, as such, has become privy to the cultural differences that impact them. For one, she explains, factors motivating patients’ willingness to join a clinical trial and stay in it until the end can be highly dependent upon the country. The kinds of trials Beatrice works with, which range from two to five years, or longer—as opposed to the more standard trial length of a half year, require a particularly in-depth understanding of local incentives, she explains.

In order to remain cognizant of cultural barriers or issues of importance for each unique trial, Beatrice’s department develops training and support materials, such as motivation guides. While such materials encourage local input and customization, Beatrice explains, sometimes a situation occurs where the basic assumptions upon which they are based is flawed.

Such was the case, Beatrice discovered, on a recent trip to India. A certain guideline was based on the idea that doctors have the time to sit with their patients and interact. In India, though, she explains, a doctor sees roughly 200 to 300 patients a day. “Talking to the Indian doctors about how this works in practice,” she explains, made it clear that “some of the things you are proposing might never be possible in that setting.”

Since joining Novo Nordisk, Beatrice has worked in both the regional Zürich and affiliate Beijing offices, in addition to where she currently sits in global headquarters. Beyond giving her an outlet to practice her Chinese learnt from childhood, these international experiences, she explains, have afforded her a much better understanding of the need for local adaption. “I understand the headquarters way is not always the best way, so I consistently try to take this into consideration.”

For this reason, Beatrice makes sure to talk with country representatives weekly, if not daily. She explains, the intent is not to make them adhere or bend to global headquarter ideals, “it’s about listening and understanding their reality, what they do and trying to make them reach success.” Beatrice holds that thinking globally ultimately boils down to mutual understanding—a give and take.

The extent of Beatrice’s global experience, she explains, does not end with her two stints living abroad. At Novo Nordisk, she says, she gets the global experience daily. “Looking around the office, it’s nice to see people from many different countries and cultures.” Further, things like the working language being English and speaking to affiliates from all over the world, she explains, are constant reminders of the global nature of the work. She is also quick to add that the array of times that one might receive an email depending on the time zones of the people you’re working with is a pretty good reminder as well. “I’ve been working on projects where I’m in communication with the US and China simultaneously,” Beatrice exclaims, with an exasperated expression.

Beatrice, who started her journey with Novo Nordisk through the Regulatory Affairs Graduate Program, put her PhD studies in Diabetes and Endocrinology on hold in order to partake. “That was seven years ago,” she laughs and adds, “I haven’t regretted it, I’ve been very happy.”

For Beatrice, always interested in diabetes research, Novo Nordisk’s expertise is what originally caught her eye, but as she says, “that wouldn’t have been a deciding factor as such.” Beatrice holds that the culture and truly global nature of the company are what sealed the deal for her. While other large companies are certainly working globally, she explains, here at Novo Nordisk, she feels the importance of spending the resources to tap into stakeholder knowhow all over the globe is prioritized.  “There is a Novo Nordisk culture that somehow has been disseminated out in the entire organization,” she says.  Even as far away as China, when she steps into the offices, Beatrice claims, she can feel that there is Novo Nordisk in the air. “I would say it’s a very successful implementation of the Novo Nordisk Way across the globe.”

 

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