What’s your job title and what do you do during a typical day at work?
I am part of the corporate business finance team at LEO Pharma. I am responsible for driving the long-term sales forecast process and doing financial valuations for internal development assets.
A typical day at work entails a lot of meetings and number crunching. Performing fact-based analysis and providing strategic recommendations based on information collected and sharing visions and ideas via creative Powerpoint slides are a part of my daily routine.
A lot of my time is spent on speaking with cross-functional management and project teams to align and understand expectations and to ensure the fairest assessment of investment opportunities.
Apart from this, a typical day at work’ involves drinking a lot of tea and enjoying small breaks with colleagues.
I have been with LEO Pharma since September 2015. Before this I worked at Novo Nordisk in a similar role for eight years.
What brought you to Denmark?
The answer is my husband and some good luck!
He came here to work with a Danish company and I followed. We left India almost 10 years ago and have been living in Denmark since. I am looking forward to obtaining my Danish citizenship by the end of this year.
What’s the best thing about working in Denmark? What’s something about Denmark that would surprise someone who hasn’t worked here?
The best thing is a good work-life balance. Coming from a country where working hours are usually very long, Denmark has been a pleasant surprise.
Apart from this, flat management structures and an informal atmosphere create a relaxed working environment. Most decisions are discussed in forums where all employees have an equal say. This makes you feel that you are not just another number in the system and that you have an ability to make an impact.
There is a high degree of focus on teamwork while at the same time there is an expectation to act independently; this is another surprise for foreigners like me and it took me some time to adjust to it.
Also, there is less supervision, and to a large extent, it is up to the individual employee how and when they complete assignments.
Being a woman, the biggest surprise has been the maternity leave system in Denmark. In Novo Nordisk, female employees get one full year of salary during maternity leave (after meeting certain conditions) and there are plenty of days off for fathers as well. Due to the combination of ample parental leave and a good work-life balance, it is easier to have a family as working parents in Denmark, compared to most other countries in the world.
Efficient childcare facilities combined with flexible work hours contribute towards having a life with a career and a family at the same time. Every child starts kindergarten at the age of three, and most children are placed in daycare institutions when they are between 12 and 18 months old. This makes it possible for both parents to work while their children are still very young.
Another thing that surprised me in a good way is the unemployment insurance provision. The Danish labour market follows a system of ‘Flexicurity’, which is characterised by a high level of freedom while hiring and firing, which means unemployment insurance shelters you on a rainy day. Because unemployment insurance in Denmark is voluntary, you need to be a paying member of an unemployment insurance fund in order to receive the benefits.
Are there any unexpected perks working at your company?
Yes – cake on almost every alternate day. The cake culture is awesome at LEO pharma.
Did you feel that it was easy as an expat to come to work in Denmark?
No, it wasn’t easy. I came in 2006 and finding a job back then was more difficult compared to now. In my opinion, over the years the acceptance of foreigners in the Danish workplace has increased significantly, much to the advantage of expats like me.
My observation is that the acceptance of foreigners is more common in some professions than others. For instance, in IT there are more foreigners compared to finance, HR, R&D and other business-related functions.
A lack of Danish language skills is a big disadvantage for expats, especially in jobs that require relationship building and a lot of communication. It was not possible to get a job in a business consulting firm in 2006 due to language barriers. However, this is possible now.
Another drawback is a lack of references. A lot of job positions in Denmark are filled based on references and this is where expats suffer as they are new to the country and do not have a good network yet.
The good news is that compared to 10 years ago, the support from the government in helping expats to find a job and integrate has increased. Also, there are more jobs advertised in English on jobsites than before.
What would be your advice to someone thinking about coming to Denmark to work?
My advice would be to do thorough research, comparing your background with the needs of the job market in Denmark. This is because finding a job without prior experience working in Denmark takes a lot of time, so it is important to be sure that there are jobs out there for you.
If you have come to Denmark without a job offer, then it is important to start learning the Danish language ASAP! This will open a lot of doors for you. It is possible to work and live while speaking only English, but it can be difficult to feel integrated at work or socially if one does not speak any Danish.
Another piece of advice would be to participate in a lot of networking events and build a network. Keep in mind that many jobs are never announced publicly. Using one’s network to find a job or fill a position is common practice, and you should draw on your own network to get in touch with companies that might have vacancies.
Doing a short course in Denmark related to your area of interest at one of the Danish institutions can be a good idea. This will not only enhance your knowledge base but also get you connected to people who have the same area of interest as yours.
Be a super user of Linkedin. Denmark loves Linkedin and a lot of hiring managers check the Linkedin profiles of potential candidates.
Getting in touch with placement agencies and headhunters is also a good idea for expats looking for jobs.
The last and most important thing is to have a lot of patience and to keep spirits up.