Novo Nordisk South Africa has been recently certified as one of the Best Places To Work in South Africa for 2021. We went and interviewed Venkat Kalyan, Vice President and General Manager Novo Nordisk South Africa, who has provided us insights into what makes the company an employer of choice in South Africa.

  • How would you describe your organization to someone outside of your industry?

Novo Nordisk is a global healthcare company, founded in 1923 and headquartered just outside Copenhagen, Denmark. Our purpose is to drive change to defeat diabetes and other serious chronic diseases such as obesity, and rare blood and rare endocrine diseases. We do so by pioneering scientific breakthroughs, expanding access to our medicines and working to prevent and ultimately cure the diseases we treat. We employ more than 45,000 people in 80 offices around the world, and market our products in 169 countries.

  • How would you describe your corporate culture?

Our culture is grounded in the value system to which we refer as the Novo Nordisk Way which I may not be able to describe it in its entirety here, however, some of the characteristics include being patient-centric, treating each other with respect, driving high performance and ensuring an environment conducive for each employee to contribute meaningfully & reach their ultimate potential. We value Diversity & Inclusion and in Novo Nordisk South Africa we have made great strides in ensuring an employee profile which is very diverse representing different groups of our society including 77% females overall and 50% females in the leadership team. Sustainability is important to us and we endeavour to make a meaningful contribution to society and protect the environment by actively reducing our carbon footprint. Lastly & by no means the least, we do not compromise on Business Ethics and quality in every aspect of our work.

In a statement from Zanele Mkwanazi, Director People & Organisation “Everyday we are doing meaningful work which has a positive impact on patients’ lives. We provide an enabling organisational culture and life-changing careers which allow our people to contribute meaningfully to our common purpose. We believe in the Power of One Team, One Plan and One Goal. When we work together, there is nothing we cannot achieve”
  • What continuing learning opportunities do you offer ?

At Novo Nordisk we apply the 70 20 10 principle to continued development.  As supported by research, we strongly believe that 70% of all learning & development should happen on the job where one has a much higher chance of retaining & applying what has been learnt. In this regard, we have cross-functional project teams who work together to solve business challenges & identify opportunities where individual team members contribute their expertise & learn from each other. We also offer Extended Business Trips or Short Term Assignments in other parts of the NN organisation worldwide for employees to gain valuable international experience. The 20% of learning comes from feedback from Manager, coach and peers. The other 10% is traditional classroom learning and we use the Degreed ® online learning platform, the company also funds various relevant courses and graduate studies with reputable institutions.

  • Describe some initiatives adopted by your organization during the Covid 19 pandemic to engage the employees?

 During the pandemic we had weekly #StrongerTogether Conversations where myself as the Director for People & Organisation, our Vice President & General Manager Venkat Kalyan and a member of the Leadership Team joined a group of about 8 employees every week to listen & understand each employee’s experience from a personal & professional perspective. As the Leadership Team, we also got to understand what additional support was needed by our employees. We had the Culture Café’ which was a virtual platform for all employees to get together to discuss various topics of interest & relevance – for example we had a Psychologist who discussed mental wellbeing, we launched the Growth Mindset & we had a Tax expert discuss the complexity of tax matters in SA. We launched a monthly Pulse P&O Newsletter to share health & wellness tips, celebrate achievements & stay connected with employees contributing some of the topics.

  • A message to potential candidates who would like to join your organization

At Novo Nordisk, we work together to improve the lives of millions of people living with Diabetes and other chronic diseases. When you join our organisation, you will have a life-changing opportunity to make a difference in patients’ lives in a sustainable way.

  •  A message from the leadership team of the organization 
We have a common purpose of driving change to defeat Diabetes and other serious chronic diseases. We are able to make a positive difference in patients’ lives through our people who have the passion, the skills and commitment needed to achieve our purpose. Together, we are committed to our ambition to be a sustainable business that is respected for adding value to society


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Novonordisk- BPTW South Africa