INSEAD Participant Interview
Leading Digital Transformation and Innovation: It was the wind in my back
Novo Nordisk, Slovakia
Nenad Dulanovic, Director of Sales for Novo Nordisk in Slovakia, needed to get ahead of digital transformation in the pharmaceutical sector. The INSEAD experience delivered far more than he expected.
There is a lot to think about when you are looking to move the needle in digital transformation. For a start, you need to avoid the trap of enacting change for its own sake. Then you need to connect the dots between the complex and evolving components of your work, your organisation and your customer base. And then you need to understand what your core necessities are against a backdrop of continuous technological innovation – and uncertainty.
So says Nenad Dulanovic, Director of Sales for global diabetes pharmaceutical, Novo Nordisk, in Slovakia. The imperative to get ahead of digital change in his sector, coupled with a deep-rooted commitment to improving customer care, brought Dulanovic to INSEAS in 2020, and to the Leading Digital Transformation and Innovation programme.
“Digital change has been a constant in recent years, but with the arrival of the pandemic in 2020, I realised that it had become a priority for me to really understand how new technologies are not only transforming our sector, but also how to leverage them to deliver better, faster, cheaper care to our customers.”
A self-confessed “nerd,” Dulanovic has a long-standing passion for learning. INSEAD, he says, was a natural choice to put that passion into practice.
“I’d known about INSEAD for many years, not least because one of my greatest mentors and inspirations, Vincent Turgis, is an INSEAD alumnus and in fact now sits on the Board of INSEAD IDP-C. So for me, there was no greater endorsement than that.”
Going into the programme in 2020 meant grappling with a learning environment that was 100% virtual – a reality that met the needs for social distancing as the pandemic took hold, but that did not give Dulanovic too much cause for concern.
“When you are going back to a school like INSEAD to build your knowledge and skills, you also look forward to the networking dynamic and the chance to broaden out your set of contacts and connections. Obviously the online format imposed some restrictions; you don’t get those water cooler moments. But in fact, as peers we were still able to interchange ideas and really diverse perspectives; and to build those ties, so much so that the connections have endured beyond the programme. We still speak all of the time, and find ways to share out of the box thinking with each other.”
The learning experience was, in fact, so “real” that at no point did Dulanovic miss the physical classroom experience, he says.
“The programme offers you experiences that are nothing short of amazing. I particularly enjoyed the business simulations, where you are leading a virtual company and implementing new solutions. The professors and the interaction with peers bring this ‘story’ to life in such a way that it feels totally real. At no point do you feel the fatigue of sitting in front a screen. It’s a totally energising learning experience.”
Coming away from the programme, Dulanovic says that the chief takeaways have been not only in understanding the potential of technology to accelerate improvements for the customer and the organisation, but in knowing how to enact change.
“One of the key pieces of the puzzle that you learn in INSEAD is how digital transformation is in fact a mixture – a combination – of different changes. And that change is not valid for the sake of change alone. The programme has given me vast insight into determining the grounds for change – understanding the customer better – and then into how to make the necessary changes happen: the frameworks, the techniques and the tools to actually do it.”
He is now implementing this learning into his role at a strategic level he says. And this has meant, in part, looking beyond what his organisation already knows about customers to determine with more detail and accuracy what present and emerging needs their customers have. That, and thinking a little deeper about what the customer base might look like over the longer-term: who else might become customers in the future.
“INSEAD has given me pause for deep thought and reflection on the importance of our customers and in the need to prioritise them in the context of change,” says Dulanovic.
“Beyond that, this programme is an affirmation of the ideas and the motivation that I brought. It has given me the insights, the connections, the knowledge and the wind on my back to lead the change that we need to make.”
Find out more about the Leading Digital Transformation and Innovation programme.