Behind the Scenes of the Novo Nordisk Graduate Programme with Ashlee Bessolo

Get on the inside of one of the most attractive graduate programmes you will find in Denmark and globally, when we sit down with current Global Business Graduate at Novo Nordisk, Ashlee Bessolo.


2017 – 2019 Copenhagen Business School, MSc Economics and Business Administration

2016 – 2017 Leopold-Franzens Universität Innsbruck, Exchange semester, Business Administration and Management 

2014 – 2017 Copenhagen Business School, BSc Business, Language and Culture in German

2012 – 2014 Santa Barbara City College, Associate’s degree, International/Global Studies



2019 – Current Global Business Graduate

2018 – 2019 Community Management Lead, Employer Brand Activation & Onboarding, Global Talent Acquisition, Novo Nordisk 

2017 – 2018 Student Assistant, Employer Branding & Digital Acceleration, Novo Nordisk 

2016 – 2018 PR and Social Media Coordinator, NUORI

2015 PR and Social Media Assistant, NUORI

2016 – 2017 Marketing Assistant, Muuto

2012 – 2013 Sales Associate, American Apparel 


Recently, we had the pleasure to interview Ashlee Bessolo from the United States who is a Global Business  Graduate at Novo Nordisk. Currently, she is on her third rotation, working remotely with her new team based in Switzerland.  


➔  Hiring!  Novo Nordisk are hiring graduates right now. Click here for more details on the programme.


In the beginning, it was planned that her international rotation would be in Kuala Lumpur, however, due to the circumstances and difficulties caused by COVID-19 it was not possible. As a result, Novo Nordisk offered her another opportunity in Zurich, Switzerland. Unfortunately, due to the unstable situation in this country, she did not manage to get to the new office yet and she is working with the new team remotely from Denmark.

They have been so good at managing the Corona crisis with us, and this is why I would give Novo Nordisk some really good credit.
Ashlee Bessolo, Novo Nordisk graduate

From the United States to Denmark 

Ashlee moved to Europe during high school, only returning to the US to begin university. During her studies, she realized that what she really loved was being exposed to different cultures and she felt, “Europe was calling her name, again”.

Copenhagen Business School was her first choice when she started applying for a bachelor’s degree in Scandinavia, but little did she know it was one of the best business schools in Europe. While she was completing her bachelor’s in Business, Language and Culture with a German focus at CBS, she was working at a natural skincare start-up and Danish design company Muuto. In both companies, her roles were focused on marketing and branding. After finishing the bachelor, she started her master’s in Economics and Business Administration with a focus in Strategic Market Creation at CBS. During her master’s degree, she started her journey with Novo Nordisk as a student assistant.

Having lived in Europe since 2009, including Sweden where she has spent more than one year, acclimating to Danish culture as an expat came naturally. “You must be very proactive in Denmark,” Ashlee says. It’s a culture where people rarely speak to strangers and you need to take the initiative to create your network professionally and personally. The large international community in Copenhagen should be leveraged, as it’s where you can find people facing similar struggles and, occasionally, can give you a sense of home. 

What attracted you to Novo Nordisk?

Before moving to Denmark, she had never considered a career in the pharmaceutical industry. In fact, she remembers a time, while living in California, were she candidly detested the idea. At the time, this perspective was influenced by her American context in which she tethered Big Pharma to a question of ethics. She preferred to play within the realm of consumer goods, where customer journeys were less controversial. This standpoint was shaken once she discovered Novo Nordisk and was encouraged to give the industry a try. She was drawn to the significant impact working in pharma makes, both in people’s lives as well as the economy. “We millennials are purpose-driven, at Novo they make it their duty to put patients at the center of everything. Bettering patient’s lives by way of innovative medicine, is as close to a purpose-driven career as there comes,” Ashlee says. 

What differentiates Novo from the industry are the Danish values that are so ingrained in everything we do. Regardless of whether you sit in HQ or in an affiliate outside of Denmark you can always find that unique Danish-ness throughout Novo Nordisk.
Ashlee Bessolo, Novo Nordisk graduate

What is Danishness for you?

With an interest in culture, Ashlee enjoys understanding norms, and their contrast to her home country. There is a sense of collectivism and decision-making in favor of majority interest and wellbeing. While it may feel at times that Danes are less open, their social values go beyond their inner circle, placing importance on equality and responsibility. For example, there is more trust in the system and willingness to pay higher taxes as they recognize the more long-term societal benefits. Humbleness is also another commendable quality of the Danes and can be recognized in the flat hierarchy found through most companies in Denmark. Novo Nordisk is not an exception and Ashlee doesn’t take for granted her colleagues willingness to help or meet up for a cup of coffee regardless of their position in the company. What she finds advantageous to starting a career in Denmark, is a respect for younger professionals’ opinions, your voice is valued at the table as it brings fresh eyes to problem-solving. This is not always the case in other countries.  

Why did you choose a graduate program?

The first time she considered the possibility of a graduate program was at an internal event held by Novo Nordisk. It was here she heard from pervious graduates about their experience and the uniqueness such experience brought. What was particularly intriguing to Ashlee, and what she, now as a graduate can confirm to be the biggest value, is the ability learn about and try out different parts of the organization. A graduate programme essentially gives you two years to really figure out what motivates you and what best fits your aspirations best. Additionally, by nature of the programme, there is a very steep learning curve and constant change.

Over half-way through the programme, this environment has taught me so much about how I problem-solve and adapt in all the uncertainty. I really value this experience and believe it will positively influence my future career.
Ashlee Bessolo, Novo Nordisk graduate

A day in the life as a graduate

Before covid-19, every day was a little bit different. When she became a graduate, she was working in a programme encompassing five strategic projects transforming one part of the organization. Therefore, her days depended on which project she was working with, coordinating across, and organizational change management.

She says it is hard to say what the typical day looks like because it varies from team to team and their internal structures.

Currently, she is working with her new team based in Zurich, which is where Novo Nordisk has its International Operations office that serves all global affiliates, besides North America. Due to the pandemic, Ashlee is working from her home office, but collaborates with colleagues all around the globe. Had it not been for covid-19, she says her days would be traveling to these different regions and working with them F2F.

On the bright side, before all the countries closed their borders, she did a business trip to Bangalore, India, which she recalls as an amazing and valuable experience.

Biggest challenge

2020 has been a hard year for the world. When reflecting on this question, Ashlee said it’s hard to dissociate the effect the pandemic has had on her graduate journey, making the programme dynamic of ‘constant change,’ particularly difficult. However, Ashlee says that the graduate programme management has been very transparent and inclusive in handling the crisis, and she really respects the way in which they have handled it. 

Pandemic aside, she emphasizes to hopeful future graduates, “to thrive in this role, you need to be able navigate in uncertainty, be it unfamiliar departments and/or tasks you have never done before, it can be very challenging, but also very rewarding. It is in these ‘diving into the deep end moments’ where we become better, more well-rounded, professionals.”

Advice to applicants

From the application side, her approach was to manage her expectations. Going into the process she knew how competitive a spot in the Global Business track was. “I went into it deciding I would be very transparent about my experiences and my personality. Novo really wants to understand who you are as a person and hire the profile that is likely to succeed given the nature of the programme. So, if the company had decided that I was not the right person for the job, I was going to trust the process; this helped me manage expectations.” Ashlee encourages candidates to do the same: be honest, be open, and don’t be afraid to show personality. A mantra Ashlee stressed was, “we hire for personality and trains for skills.”

Future with Novo Nordisk

“I think when a company invests in you as much as Novo has with the graduate programme, it would be such a shame not to continue there. That is not because you owe them anything but because you have now established such a strong network in the company that you have a high likelihood to do well and succeed after the program. Therefore, if given the opportunity I hope to continue at Novo Nordisk.”


➔  Hiring!  Novo Nordisk are hiring graduates right now. Click here for more details on the programme.