“There’s no reason to stop learning”

Nathalie Breysse started her EMBA journey with Copenhagen Business School as a neuroscientist with pharmaceutical company Lundbeck. Combining that expertise with new skills from her EMBA, she bridged the gap to the commercial side of the industry and is now director (global strategic marketing pipeline) with the same company.

The pharmaceutical industry is one of innovation, but we are also in a business that has a high level of competition. This means we need the ability to not only be able to differentiate our products, but also differentiate the way our workforce approaches any situation or evolution.

I’m a scientist by training. This is, originally, because I’ve always been fascinated by people. But then, as you get older, you experience a few life events – perhaps events where you see sick people around you – and this brought my mindset towards, “How can I help support people? Can I help support patients?” I really wanted to study the human brain, so this is why I decided to study towards a PhD in neuroscience.

I think science and marketing, in pharma at least, are connected, but the mindset of a scientist is slightly different to the commercial mindset. I think they are very complementary, though. The EMBA, for me, has been about much more than just learning the language of business or the academic skills required for the course, it has been about people: meeting and working with classmates from different backgrounds, from different industries. I didn’t want to do a pharma-based executive MBA, I wanted to do something that was much more diverse, to try to gain some knowledge from other industries that could be injected into the pharma business.

I financed 100% of my EMBA, but I was also very lucky because my manager in R&D supported me by letting me take the 11 weeks (out of 20 months) that I needed to block off for the programme. However, it was a good investment and has been paying off on a daily basis, especially from a project leadership standpoint.

Being a scientific project leader, the research I did while I was studying for the EMBA has helped me a lot. It has really helped me to understand the dynamic between the various people who sit around any table. Each is reaching for the same goal but each, of course, has very different expertise. It helped me learn how we can look at the big picture in this context and bring that expertise together.

I believe that there’s no reason to stop learning. We are in a world that is changing very fast, so we need to be able to understand not only the business itself and its organisation – the micro-environment – but also that big picture, the macro-environment: the trends, how the world is evolving and how we evolve with it.