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Anand Shetty believes there’s no substitute for hard work and determination – and you need only look at his impressive resume to believe it. “My father was a farmer and he never went to school,” the Vice President and General Manager of Novo Nordisk Indonesia tells The CEO Magazine. “I was the second person, and one of only three, to go to university from my village.”
Since he graduated from India’s Mangalore University in business and commerce, his focus has been within the field of life science. After a decade working for local Indian companies he joined Novo Nordisk in 2003. His progression was swift and after moving through the ranks domestically he was made Managing Director and General Manager in Bangladesh in 2017 before becoming Vice President and General Manager of the country eight months later. He relocated to Indonesia in 2020.
Next year, Anand will celebrate his 20th anniversary at Novo Nordisk – the same year the company marks its centenary. “When I started, one of the key features that encouraged me was the company culture, as well as its purpose,” he explains. “Along with the opportunities, these are what have inspired me to continue my journey with the company for such a long time.”
In November last year, Novo Nordisk Indonesia achieved the Best Place to Work certification, which measures companies against organisations of similar size and industry, and provides a valuable benchmark for employees and reinforces the company’s commitment to retaining and attracting the best talent.
For those in the industry, the Danish headquartered company needs little introduction: one of the major global players in the battle against diabetes (both type 1 and type 2), obesity and rare blood and endocrine disorders, it employs more than 45,000 people in 80 offices around the world. More than 32 million people rely on Novo Nordisk’s diabetes care products including insulin, which the company produces half of all global supply. It has also manufactured over one billion insulin pens.
In Indonesia, a country with one of the highest diabetes rates in the world, the company is playing an important role alongside the government as it looks to combat certain health-related challenges. “The Indonesian Ministry of Health has appointed us a strategic partner as it drives initiatives to fight diabetes and obesity in the country,” Anand says. “To be considered an executing partner against these chronic disorders is something to be proud of.”
With this in mind he is focused on ensuring those who need it have access to the company’s innovative treatments, as well as raising awareness of such illnesses to encourage early diagnosis, thus “preventing both complications and the burden of cost”. Education, he adds, is also critical. “Not only for patients but also for the community and for medical professionals.”
Of course, Indonesia’s vast geography presents a challenge to spreading the message with a large percentage of the vulnerable population unable to access the leading hospitals. “But with increased digitalisation, we will find a way to reach this group of people,” he insists.
Anand also continues to champion the company’s noble purpose and ambitious sustainability goals. “Novo Nordisk’s purpose is driving change in diabetes and other chronic disorders,” he explains.
Along with affordability and access programs in low- and middle-income countries, the company is aiming to prevent more than 100 million people from developing type 2 diabetes by 2045. That year is also a marker for another commitment: net zero emissions across the entire value chain. In the interim, the company has set 2030 as a date for carbon-free operations and transport, and in 2020 the switch to 100 per cent renewable energy was completed across its entire global production.
“Novo Nordisk’s purpose is driving change in diabetes and other chronic disorders.”
Anand describes his leadership style as one that promotes open and transparent communication. “I believe in empowerment as when you are growing in your career you cannot make all the decisions alone,” he says. “You need to be surrounded by people who are in the right place to make some of them.” Remaining connected to his customer base is also a priority. “It is critical for us that those people who are closest to the customers are given the power to make decisions,” he explains.
It all feeds into his belief in inclusiveness. “As you grow in a leadership role, feedback is critical and can come from any corner of the organisation,” he says. Anand has the words of Indian entrepreneur Ratan Tata always in his mind. “He said if you want to walk fast, walk alone but if you want to walk far, walk together. This is what I practice.”