Amalie from Novo Nordisk Consulting: Solving complex problems with a strong purpose in mind

14/09/2021 Graduateships Min.

We sat down with Amalie Thomsen - Project Manager at Novo Nordisk Consulting, the internal consulting team of the pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk. We talked about her path into consulting and the value of working in a company with a strong purpose.

Could you tell us more about your background?

I studied at Copenhagen Business School taking a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Psychology followed by a Master’s degree in Economics and Business Administration specializing in Innovation and Business Development.

 

➔  Hiring!  Novo Nordisk Consulting are looking for Associates right now! More details about the role here.

 

I was fortunate to have a study program allowing me time to take on relevant student jobs – primarily in the life science sector, which has always been a particular interest of mine. I truly appreciated the fact that I was able to translate theoretical elements from my studies into practice at work. My first job was as a Business Analyst in Biosyntia, a biotech startup company. Then, I moved to Novozymes where I worked in the business development unit within a team working on creating new venture opportunities internally in the organization.

After finishing my Master’s degree in 2019, I was fortunate to get the opportunity to start my full-time professional career at Novo Nordisk Consulting. It was a great opportunity for me as I was able to combine consulting with my passion for the life science industry.

Why were you attracted to consulting?

I saw it as a great way to kickstart my professional career because there is a strong focus on people development. Further, in consulting, you get the opportunity to work with a variety of different business problems across various functional areas. This provides great and diverse learning opportunities.

What also attracted me to consulting was that you typically work closely together in teams. Getting into details and problem-solving through strong collaboration is something I really enjoy. I participated in a couple of case competitions during my studies and I got the same impression – you really dive into the projects together with your team.

Furthermore, I wanted to build up an ability to solve complex problems and break them down in a structured way. In doing so, I have come to realize that an important next step is translating complex problems into recommendations and communicating these to senior stakeholders.

 

Why did you choose Novo Nordisk Consulting?

As it is an internal consulting unit anchored within Novo Nordisk, I saw this as a great opportunity to combine the benefits and value of working in consultancy with the ability to build up an understanding of an organization in which I had an interest.

It was also a unique opportunity to work for a company with a strong purpose. Novo Nordisk’s purpose influences me in my daily work. Wherever I am in the organization, I feel that what we do is ultimately channeled into defeating diabetes and other serious chronic diseases.

When I first joined Novo Nordisk Consulting, I was part of a project where we developed the company’s social responsibility strategy (‘Defeat Diabetes’). The strategy introduced new long-term ambitions in three areas critical to helping improve individual and public health, specifically prevention, access, and affordability as well as innovation. This was a project with a strong patient focus.

In consulting, you get the opportunity to work with a variety of different business problems across various functional areas. This provides great and diverse learning opportunities.
Amalie Thomsen, Project Manager at Novo Nordisk Consulting

What is unique about internal consulting? How does Novo Nordisk Consulting work?

Being part of an internal consulting unit, you work closely with your colleagues in the organization (i.e. Novo Nordisk colleagues outside the consulting team). You get the opportunity to build a network in the organization across different functions and learn from people that are extraordinary within their field. It was also a great way for me to learn how to navigate the organization that I saw myself establishing a long career in.

From an organizational perspective, we are anchored under the CFO of Novo Nordisk. We always support critical and important strategic agendas across the organization and we work on strategy development and strategy execution projects. We can do projects in commercial, public affairs, or finance to name some areas.

 

What is your role at Novo Nordisk Consulting?

I have just been promoted to Project Manager which means that I take lead on the strategic projects that we work on.

In Novo Nordisk Consulting, you start as a Project Associate, which is what I started as when entering from university. Then, you become Senior Project Associate, followed by Project Manager. After Project Manager, you progress to Senior Project Manager and then People Manager.

Typically, we work in a project team consisting of both colleagues from Novo Nordisk Consulting and from the functional area in which the project is anchored. Everything is structured around solving problems and you get the opportunity to dive into details, also within topics that you have never worked with before – I think that is unique to consulting.

Is it hard to progress through the organization?

In Novo Nordisk Consulting, career progression is performance-driven – not tenure-driven.

In addition to prioritizing ongoing feedback, we have a bi-annual review process based on 360-degree feedback. You get feedback from all angles – from the people you work on projects with, your project sponsors, and your People Manager. This feeds into a dialogue with your manager and a dialogue amongst the senior team about how they can best support your development.

The process is very focused on how to best support people’s development, not just on career progression. When you are ready for a promotion, you get the opportunity to move up and have more responsibility.

Most colleagues stay in the team for about three years before transitioning into roles across the organization. We have former team members working in all parts of the value chain today – from R&D to sales. Many of those colleagues hold people management responsibility.

Working for Novo Nordisk Consulting was also a unique opportunity to work for a company with a strong purpose. Novo Nordisk’s purpose influences me in my daily work. Wherever I am in the organization, I feel that what we do is ultimately channeled into defeating diabetes and other serious chronic diseases.
Amalie Thomsen, Project Manager at Novo Nordisk Consulting

What is the company culture like?

Novo Nordisk has a strong history and culture. You see the company values feeding into all the different parts of the organization. The company culture is based on high ethical standards. It is a good working environment – you get to work with many incredible people across the organization. People are engaged and excellent at what they do.

The social element has, obviously, been influenced by COVID-19. But I think we have done everything we could to bring some of the social elements onto a virtual platform. We are a young team who wants to do social things together, and you also make friends at work. With many restrictions being lifted again in Denmark, we are prioritizing spending time together as a team outside work.

Lastly, work-life balance is valued in Novo Nordisk Consulting. There is a belief that you should be able to work as a consultant while maintaining a balanced lifestyle.

Do you have a professional goal?

I could definitely see myself progressing in consulting but also, at some point, moving into another area in the organization. And I could not imagine a better platform than Novo Nordisk Consulting to do so. I get to experience different parts of the organization, which gives me a really strong starting point for choosing where I would like to transition to next.

I have not identified the right place yet. I think Novo Nordisk is great because you also have a lot of international opportunities. I could see myself doing an international move to strengthen my understanding of the markets we operate in.

Novo Nordisk Consulting is very focused on how to best support people’s development, not just on career progression. When you are ready for a promotion, you get the opportunity to move up and have more responsibility.
Amalie Thomsen, Project Manager at Novo Nordisk Consulting

Do you have any advice for graduates?

Find something that you think is fun to do. For example, if you try case competitions and think they are fun, then you will probably also think the consulting job is fun. You should feel happy when you come home from work.

And find a company and a department that focuses on your professional and personal development. That is really one of the things I value in Novo Nordisk Consulting.

 

➔  Hiring!  Novo Nordisk Consulting are looking for Associates right now! More details about the role here.