Lotte Bjerre Knudsen

Age: 46 years

Nationality: Danish

Education: Chemical Engineer from the Danish Technical University

Working for Novo Nordisk: 20 years

Job title: Senior Principal Scientist, Biology & Pharmacology Management

Lotte Bjerre Knudsen

Senior Principal Scientist

“I am passionate about industrial science. The excitement of discovering molecules and developing them to make new products - that meet real needs - has driven me for over twenty years.”

Knowing my focus

Being Danish, I have always known about Novo Nordisk, as it is THE place to work in Denmark if you are interested in diabetes. I can’t remember when I first decided I wanted to work in industry, rather than academic science – it feels like this has always been my focus. I was determined to get a place in the company and so kept on studying and applying until I was successful! I started working at Novo Nordisk as a student completing my thesis over 20 years ago and I haven’t looked back.

For me, Novo Nordisk is the perfect size. It is big enough to have the right resources, access to state-of-the-art technology and the support needed for high-level research; but small enough that your individual opinion counts and so that you know you are personally making a difference.

Career options

I think that working here you get a lot of possibilities for personal development and the possibility of progressing from a basic research scientist into a specialist, project manager or line manager is a great opportunity for any scientist. If you put in the effort then you have a high degree of influence over what you spend your time on. I can happily say that, due to the experience I have gained, my successes and the level I have reached in the company it has been more than 15 years since anyone told me what to do!

Voicing my opinion

I believe that Novo Nordisk is an empowering company, in the sense that I have been encouraged to have an opinion which I have been able to discuss with all levels of management - right up to and including the CEO!  Even if we disagree, I’m respected for my opinion. And as long as I can prove my argument and my argument is significant, then I usually get what I need to support my research. This is very attractive to me as a scientist.

I have had lots of different jobs at Novo Nordisk, but all with similar work. I am currently a project manager and have my own lab with a lab technician and a PhD student. There is a big focus on teamwork, rather than individual research. Anyone who works here has to be prepared to regularly discuss data with the team and agree the next steps forward together.

As well as working on regulatory studies in the lab I also spend a lot of my time collaborating on scientific papers for publication and giving presentations around the world on the new drug we recently launched – a drug for which I was one of the inventors and the manager for the discovery project.

Many people, one goal

There are lots of world class scientists working in R&D at Novo Nordisk and we all share one common goal: to discover new and useful drugs in the fastest way possible – after all, we are a business. But with our Triple Bottom Line approach we never cut corners, we are highly ethical with regard to animal and clinical studies and we do things the smart way, not just the fast way, to get results.

Creating a potential blockbuster

Twenty years ago my team and I began work on a compound that we hoped would one day make an innovative new drug for people with diabetes. I had to convince some of my colleagues of its worth and work at gaining the necessary resources to support its development. Today, this compound - liraglutide (Victoza®) - is one of Novo Nordisk’s most exciting new products. It has been launched in many countries around the world and already thousands of people with diabetes are using it every day. The sense of achievement I get by knowing that I played a major role in this is beyond description.

I see myself working for Novo Nordisk for as long as possible – I know that this is a place where everyone is trying to do the right thing and make high quality products that meet a real need. This is very motivating for me.