In a global business landscape that’s constantly changing, the most valuable skill a person can have is the ability to adapt. CEMS has spent over 30 years refining a unique curriculum with a focus on developing a global mindset that’s delivered locally, in collaboration with the top academic institutions all around the world. Coursework is given real-world application through our close alliance with corporate and social partners — creating invaluable connections, collaborations and experiences. Many CEMS students and graduates have chosen to work with CEMS Corporate Partners. In this interview series, we investigate how they have been doing.

CEMSie Anne-Helene Monsimier speaks about her experience doing the Novo Nordisk Graduate Program. 

1. Why did you choose to work with Novo Nordisk?

  • A clear work purpose and mission: To me, Novo Nordisk is not like any other big pharma companies. As a biopharmaceutical (biological drugs) company, it does not aim at being highly diversified in order to build a large drug portfolio, but rather aims at being highly specialised in only three chronic diseases (diabetes, haemophilia, and growth disorder). This makes a huge difference in the way employees feel engaged around the same cause and driven by patient-centred mission.
  • Strong business ethics: This was one of the most important criteria for choosing a company. The Novo Nordisk Way is a philosophy and a set of values and principles driving people’s behaviour at work. Although I could already feel the strong focus on business ethics and values before joining the company, I was positively surprised to see how truly it is applied in daily work.
  • The graduate programme: the programme is very international and gives you the unique opportunity to see different parts of the company and experience diversity in projects for two years. It is a programme meant to train you as a project manager; therefore you get exposed to challenging tasks and responsibility from Day 1.
  • People: I had a great connection with all the people I met from Novo Nordisk. People were very respectful and genuinely interested in getting to know who you are rather than just your degree and achievements.

2. How did you get into the Novo Nordisk Graduate Programme?

I was quite lucky, but also…

  • Before applying online, I read a lot about Novo Nordisk to get a feel for the company and the programme. I had to think about it for some time, because I had never considered the possibility of starting my career in this industry before. Beyond the company’s reputation, it is very important to know and keep in mind what exactly convinced you about an organisation and a job when writing your cover letter. Also, I tried to demonstrate the great fit between me and the company by bridging my studies (e.g., CEMS) to the graduate programme (need for international mind-set, strong business ethics). By doing all of that, you make your motivation statement genuine and honest, which the screeners can feel in a few seconds.
  • During my phone interview (second round), I tried to convey my passion for the industry and showed that I had done some homework about the company and business. However, I was not there to tell the interviewer about Novo Nordisk but rather there to hear more about it! So I did not hesitate to ask honest questions about the programme and let the interviewer know what my expectations of a job were. The conversation was very pleasant and personal, so I had a good time being open about myself. The interviewer challenged me on my flexibility to move around and to Denmark in the next few years with regards to my long-term goals and personal life. Since it was not a problem and exactly what I was looking for, I guess this was a checked box.
  • During the assessment centre (last round), I tried to be myself all the time and not put too much pressure on myself to get this job. At this stage, recruiters were not looking for competencies anymore, but rather for behaviour. So it was a great opportunity for me to let my personality shine while enjoying this time meeting really interesting people. These three days provided me with great insights into the business and culture at Novo Nordisk, which confirmed my overall interest in starting my career there.

3. What do you do in the Novo Nordisk Graduate Programme?

As graduates, we do many things:

  • First, we have fun! The graduate team is very international; therefore everything is made to integrate non-Danes into the Danish culture and network with other graduates (activities with graduate alumni, graduate parties, etc.).
  • We manage our own project(s) and/or project streams within our respective department. We are free to bring new and creative ideas to improve processes, which is both very enjoyable and challenging!
  • We get trained in project management, presentation, development skills – everything you need to be an effective project manager and future leader.
  • We are given the time and opportunities to learn about the organisation and the business. For instance, my current rotation being in the Supply Chain Management Development team, I had the chance to visit every manufacturing site in Denmark.
  • We work with the affiliates and region offices in every part of the world so we may often travel for business purpose.
  • We develop ourselves. We get regular 1:1 meetings with our programme managers to discuss our personality, strengths and weaknesses, ambitions, challenges, personal matters, etc.
  • We all have a rotation in a different department and business area so we share our knowledge and experience
  • We meet company’s top management. We get regular invitations to knowledge-sharing presentations given by top management at Novo Nordisk. Also, in the day-to-day work we often get to meet senior management people.
  • Finally, we participate in the recruiting campaign and screening process to hire the next batch of graduates.

4. What has been the highlight of your experience in the program?

The highlight of my experience in the program so far has been our Project Management Skills workshop last November. We were the 42 graduates staying at the Novo Nordisk house for 3 days. We learnt how to start a project, how to apply project management tools and methodology, how to drive a workshop, how to mitigate risks and engage stakeholders, etc. Very helpful workshop, as I use this toolbox every day at work.

The workshop also involved a lot of teamwork with graduates from different programs, which sometimes was challenging, as we did not necessarily know each other and often had different background experiences. But this is exactly what happens in reality so it was great to reflect on that. In the end, we had an amazing time all together and a memorable party was organised the last night!

5. What makes working at Novo Nordisk unique and outstanding?

From my perspective, the company is outstanding for being successful in providing employees with a unique work-life balance (thanks to the Danish culture!) and a very respectful and healthy environment. People are very hard-working and conscientious, yet value their personal life as much.

6. How has your CEMS Master’s in International Management degree helped in your role in the Novo Nordisk Graduate Programme?

Clearly, the CEMS Master’s in International Management degree has been an absolute key element in my application. What Novo Nordisk is mainly looking for in its graduates goes beyond knowledge and competencies. They want candidates with strong business ethics, an international mind-set and experience abroad. The CEMS mind-set is all about this and Novo Nordisk knows it well! Of course they do not hire only CEMS graduates, but they do hire a lot thanks to their great connections and partnerships with the program.

The CEMS values I agreed on and signed off at the graduation are the right ones to guide good work behaviour in a complex and global business such as Novo Nordisk: fast-changing environment, multi-cultural teams, and high responsibility towards society.