By Brian Hilberdink | Published 23 April 2018
What makes up a large part of the person you are today comes from your roots. From where you grew up, to what sparked your interests in life. While this is true for a person, the same holds true for organizations. Having been a part of this company for over two decades – taking on roles in the U.S. and Copenhagen before returning to Canada as General Manager – I have found there are two foundational components of Novo Nordisk that hold true on a global scale: its celebration of its Danish roots and its patient-centric approach. These two characteristics are reflected by every employee and in every business decision.
These values are written in The Novo Nordisk Way, the set of principles which defines who we are, how we work and what we want to achieve, but they are more than words. Our team takes special pride in these roots and their unique Canadian connection. You can look back to the first collaboration between Danes Marie and August Krogh and Canadians Banting and Best to understand just how our roots have taken shape here.
Novo Nordisk was born by truly putting patients first. It all started with a focus on one particular patient: Marie Krogh who had type 2 diabetes and, as a doctor, also treated patients with diabetes. Marie and her husband August were both doctors and researchers who travelled to the United States in the 1920s and heard reports of people with diabetes being treated with insulin.
Marie urged her husband to contact the University of Toronto where the insulin extract was first discovered by two Canadian researchers, Frederick Banting and Charles Best. Soon after meeting the Canadians, August and his wife returned to Copenhagen with permission to manufacture and sell life-saving insulin in Scandinavia. As you can imagine, the 350 employees of Novo Nordisk Canada are particularly moved by this romantic founding story!
Since then, our team has carried the same commitment that began in Denmark when Marie initially sought a medication. Our shared mission is to bring innovative treatments to Canadians, putting them first.
From my time abroad, I have been fortunate enough to see how Canada is viewed by our colleagues around the globe. We’re seen as a great incubator for those looking to grow their international experience – not only because of the talent and diversity we have in Canada, but because of the real impact we’ve had on supporting the health of Canadians. Something we would be unable to do if it weren’t for our strong foundation, our commitment to patients, and a passion to make real change in the lives of those we touch.
The Kroghs are never far from our hearts and minds. From boardroom names, to the design of our new Canadian headquarters, our company’s heritage is highly visible at Novo Nordisk Canada. We brought the Danish design principles of simplicity and functionality to life, creating a space that facilitates collaboration and innovation. By working in an environment that supports these principles, we’ve found that our employees approach problem solving with the same spirit. Open spaces allow for conversations that spark new ideas and encourage limitless thinking, and the simplicity of our workplace inspires stripping problems down to their root and solving the core issue at hand. This approach to work is the Novo Nordisk Way personified.
Our team starts important, sometimes challenging conversations such as questioning policy changes that may negatively affect patient access to innovative medicines. We create meaningful connections such as Cities Changing Diabetes in Vancouver, to ensure we’re driving change for Canadians living with diabetes, obesity and other chronic conditions. In that spirit, we’ve developed this blog so you can learn about health issues Canadians face and the leadership necessary to improve those issues. Because really, it’s all connected.
95 years ago we started our journey to innovate and manufacture insulin for people with diabetes.