Meriam Loughzal is a brand manager at Nutricia looking after a range of products which support people living with inherited metabolic conditions. Working closely with patients and healthcare professionals is what drives her passion and motivation for her role.
I enjoy being a brand manager at Nutricia because in all the work we do, our purpose and positive impact is contained within each of our products and services. To an extent, the Nutricia brand speaks for itself - it’s really very easy for patients and healthcare professionals to connect with and appreciate the work that we do.
My day at work would usually involve interacting with the medical research team to develop new products or new campaigns; we want to always ensure we deliver content that matters to patients and healthcare professionals. For some patients, that might mean delivering content that supports them with their low-protein diet, and we will then work with an agency or our digital team in order to deliver this content through the right channels in the most effective way.
Then there are the more marketing-centric elements of my role, which involve looking after the brands that have been assigned to me from a business perspective; working with the supply chain to ensure smooth production and high standards of quality. In this capacity, I’m acting as a sort of project manager - making sure that every little detail of my brand is operating as it should.
The most exciting days are those when I get to meet families and healthcare professionals. It’s so different from jobs I’ve had in the past. I get to see first-hand the impact of our products and the work we’re doing. It’s an opportunity to gain insights directly from the healthcare professionals and patients who use our products and services.
When you meet patients and hear how Nutricia’s products make such a difference to their lives, it’s a huge motivating factor. Connecting with patients and families and understanding more about their successes and challenges is incredibly helpful. It’s so much more informative to learn directly from an individual what they find hard about following a low protein diet. They can tell me in person why they might be struggling and, when you hear that, you instinctively want to act on it and make it easier for them. On the other hand, when you hear from people who have had a successful outcome, you feel compelled to share their story with others to inspire them. I guess I’m in a unique position where I can help to find ways to make some patients’ struggles easier and also help to inspire others through positive examples and stories.
We also connect with patients through our partnerships with charities; for example, we work closely with the National Society for Phenylketonuria (NSPKU), Metabolic Support UK and the Galactosemia Support Group (GSG). A lot of the charities we partner with are actually managed by people who have a family member with that condition, so they have experienced first-hand the difficulties that people face. All of these charities recognise that metabolic conditions are rare - there are only 4000 people in the UK with PKU, for instance - so a big part of their work is building connections; not just through social media, but by actually meeting up.
The last event we organised was with NSPKU in February 2020, and it was an opportunity for people with PKU from all over the UK to interact with one another. Usually we will have around 100 patients attending, but they bring along their families as well so there ends up being quite a lot more than 100 people. Not only does it give families an opportunity to connect with each other, but it also gives us a chance to interact with them. So we might run a workshop on nutritional labels, to help patients understand what foods are suitable when they’re grocery shopping for low protein diets. Another thing we do is provide lunch for the event, and our Chef Derek will also run a cookery workshop to inspire people to be more creative, maybe by providing fruit and some of our low-protein milk for patients to make their own smoothies.
Events like this make such a difference, because for one weekend these people are not the only ones in the rooms with PKU; they are with people who understand what they’re going through, are living in a similar way and who they can share their experiences with. At the same time, the workshops we provide aim to help them look at low-protein diets differently and maybe feel inspired to try something new. It’s always really pleasing on those occasions when someone comes up to us after lunch and asks for the recipe!
It’s extremely rewarding to not just be in a marketing bubble, working in front of a computer; developing that close working relationship with patients and healthcare professionals is one of the most satisfying aspects of my job. To hear about how we’re making a difference - and the ways in which we could make even more of a difference - is a major aspect of what makes me so driven in my role. This means that when I am sitting in front of my computer, I have a very clear, real-world picture in my head of what I’m trying to achieve and precisely whose lives I’m working to improve and how.
Working for Nutricia gives you a unique sense of accomplishment that I haven’t had anywhere else, the focus is all about making a difference to people’s lives. Nutricia is a very human-focused company; I don’t just mean in terms of being able to work with patients and healthcare professionals, but also in terms of seeing how invested and driven all of my colleagues are.
I’m not alone in feeling like I’m making a difference - everyone I know here feels the same way. Whether you’re in the medical team, supply chain or finance, we’re all driven in the same way, and all understand the intricacy and importance of metabolic conditions and can appreciate what it means to live with PKU. In other places I have worked everything was far more compartmentalised, whereas at Nutricia we are all very united in focusing on the human experience of our products’ end users - whether that be patients or healthcare professionals.
Going to work every day alongside people who are just as driven as you are makes the job feel tremendously rewarding. Both individually and as a company, we are committed to keeping the human experience at the core of everything we do, which means that we are always striving to produce the best product or service to help make someone’s life better than it was the day before. That makes my work feel not only worthwhile, but truly fulfilling as well.