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Nia's story

Behind every one of our nutritional solutions there is a dedicated team of people whose mission it is to make the lives of patients and healthcare professionals, easier. #NutriciaLife

Nia is a Senior Insight Manager at Nutricia

I've been working for Danone for about 10 years now, and seven of those have been for Nutricia. I studied business and psychology at university, and since then I’ve always been involved in some kind of research or policy analysis - whether that be for the NHS, the government or market research agencies.

I was working for Danone’s water division when Nutricia moved to the London office and ran a lunch and learn session so we could find out what they do. I went along and found it really interesting that nutrition can play such an important role in recovery or management of various conditions. I was fascinated, so I asked my director if there were any opportunities for me to get involved in any upcoming projects. I was lucky enough to be able to support Nutricia on looking at potential products in the memory and healthy aging space, and then started gradually moving across from the water division to healthcare. The potential to see the impact that we could have on patients’ lives with specialised nutrition made it a really appealing sector for me.

In my role as a Senior Insight Manager, a ‘typical’ day might involve looking at hospital statistics and activity to understand patient journeys. The more we look at this information, the more we know about how much demand there is likely to be for our various products, whether we’re seeing increases in certain conditions, and how likely particular products and services are likely to be needed in coming months.

Another big part of my job is research, writing research briefs and analysing the results. For example, if someone in the team has a question about what flavours we should be producing in our next oral nutritional supplement product, then it will be my job to write a research brief that questions how we put together a range of flavours that is going to appeal to the majority of patients so it’s easier to keep taking that medical nutrition for longer Recently, we have been looking at our brands’ health trackers - understanding how healthcare professionals see our products and brands, how they use them, which patients, where any gaps are, or what other products they might want to see. In this aspect of my role, I’m looking at the data and seeking to discern how we can improve the ways that our brands are viewed and understood, how we can communicate to reach healthcare professionals more effectively, or how we can improve the way our products are designed to better meet those needs. 

I very much see my job as bringing patients’, carers’ and healthcare professionals’ viewpoints into our business decisions. So when we are making choices about how our website is designed, which products we launch next or which services we offer in our contract, it’s my responsibility to make sure that we are always thinking about the needs of our patients and healthcare professionals, ensuring that their best interests are front and centre. This year I’ll be on track to have brought that kind of insight to bear on approximately 30 projects through a real mixture of quantitative and qualitative research with patients, carers, charity partners and healthcare professionals.

One standout project for me that I found particularly rewarding was when we set out to understand what role the ketogenic diet plays in the lives of children with severe epilepsy and their parents; how they engaged with the diet, what difference it had made to them and how it compared to following pharmaceutical interventions. I received stories from parents who were willing to write pages and pages, answering all of my questions. There’s a box at the end of the survey that most people skip where we ask, “is there anything else you’d like to tell us?” But these parents wrote so much about the difference the diet had made, how they had been able to resume family activities, or how their child wasn’t suffering with the side effects of medication anymore. There were stories that made me cry when I read them - and that’s not something that you get in a research and insight role in most companies. So then we were able to take these parents’ stories to healthcare professionals and say, “Do you know about the difference a ketogenic diet can make? Do you know how easy it is for parents to follow?” We were really able to inform healthcare professionals’ perceptions and way of prescribing - and that felt really rewarding. 

The role of Nutricia is really interesting, because for some patients it will really be in the background of their lives - it might just be a product that they take for two weeks and then never think about again. On the other hand, it might be a product or service which is needed for life. For example, if you have a rare metabolic condition, you might need to use Nutricia’s products your whole life. Our relationship with our patients might be as a fleeting friend, or it might be as a long-term family member - that’s sometimes how our patients talk about us. 

I always enjoy my job; I love the people that I work with and the fact that I’ve been in the business for seven years - the longest I’ve been anywhere - tells me I’m always learning something new. I work across all our medical nutrition categories - whether that be adults, paediatrics, metabolics or ketogenic - and I can’t be expert in all of those, so there’s always new information for me to take in, and I genuinely hugely enjoy the challenge of that work. I feel so lucky when I talk to friends I graduated with because most people don’t really love their job that much and are just doing something to pay the bills. 

What makes me proud about working for Nutricia - especially in the wake of COVID - is that we are kind of a quiet support to the NHS. What we do enables the NHS to run more smoothly and support patients and their families. I’m proud that what we do genuinely improves people’s health, keeps them out of hospital or keeps them from returning to hospital - and the fact that that’s part of my job makes me feel fortunate and happy.

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