Novo Nordisk’s New Social Responsibility Strategy Built on Innovation, Access and Prevention: Q&A with Camilla Sylvest
Sustainable LeadershipLeadershipHealthcareBoard and CEO AdvisorySustainabilityExecutive Search
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Lars Rønn
October 23, 2020
9 min read
Sustainable LeadershipLeadershipHealthcareBoard and CEO AdvisorySustainabilityExecutive Search
Novo Nordisk EVP Camilla Sylvest says the company created a new social responsibility strategy to fulfill its long-standing purpose to mitigate the effects of disease on people.


RRA Healthcare interview series “Sustainable Leadership:  Lessons from Leading Nordic Companies”

Camilla Sylvest is Executive Vice President and Head of Commercial Strategy and Corporate Affairs at Novo Nordisk, a global pharmaceutical company based in Denmark specializing in treatments for diabetes and other serious chronic diseases.

Camilla joined Novo Nordisk in 1996, holding leadership roles across Europe and Asia. She was appointed to her current role in 2017. She also serves as member of the Board of Danish Crown A/S, and Vice Chairman and member of the Board of the World Diabetes Foundation, both in Denmark.

Recently, Camilla spoke with Diana Horn, Senior Consultant in the Leadership and Succession Practice at Russell Reynolds Associates, and Lars Rønn, Managing Director and Senior Consultant in Healthcare Nordics at Russell Reynolds Associates. She shared how Novo Nordisk’s new social responsibility strategy brings it closer to fulfilling its long-standing purpose to mitigate the effects of disease on people and society.

The interview presented below has been edited and abridged for clarity.

Lars Rønn

Creating shared value and sustainability is very much on the top of the agenda for companies today and has been particularly emphasized during the COVID-19 pandemic. How would you summarize Novo Nordisk’s journey toward social responsibility? Where did it start and where are you today?

Camilla Sylvest

If we talk about where social responsibility started in Novo Nordisk, we have to go back almost 100 years, because the company was founded for the purpose of bringing treatment to people with diabetes who had no treatment. Our founders brought the recipe for insulin from Canada to Denmark and started producing it. They were obsessed with helping people not die from diabetes. Today we are still trying to defeat diabetes, along with other serious chronic diseases.

For many years, the triple bottom line – a combination of environmental, social and financial responsibility – has been at the center of everything we do. It is included in our Ar