• Interview: Melanie Pieters from Omega Pharma


    Omega Pharma is a Belgian Farmaceutical company founded in 1987. Since 2014 Omega Pharma is a part of multinational Perrigo. Melanie Pieters works as a Brand Manager at Omega Pharma, and tells us something about how it is, to work at this amazing company!

    1. What exactly are your responsibilities at Omega Pharma?
    I work as a Brand Manager for several A-brands, most of my time goes to Davitamon and Ymea (both food supplements) and besides that I’m also responsible for Jungle Formula and Azaron (insect repellents). As a brand manager you really are the manager of your brand, it’s like your own little company. You are responsible for making and executing the marketing plans, managing your budget (making sure that your brand is profitable and delivers ROI), innovation pipeline, website, PR, Packaging, etc.

    2. What does a day at the office look like? Is it standard or flexible?
    A day in the office is definitely flexible. I’m also not in the office every day, sometimes I work from home, have a meeting at one of our agencies, go to the corporate office in Belgium…. But I’ll describe what a typical office day could look like.
    8.30h: I start with checking my e-mails and my calendar for the day
    9h: I have a big meeting for Ymea at the corporate office next week, where all countries have to give a brand review. I’ve blocked this time for myself to work on it.
    11h: Weekly one on one meeting with the food supplements category manager. We discuss the status of the innovations, go through the business case for a new product and discuss ideas to make the next promotion bigger.
    12h: Lunch! We all have lunch together in our canteen and often go for a walk in the Kralingse Bos afterwards (which is next to our office).
    13h: Meeting with our design agency. They’ve created a first design for packaging of the new Davitamon product we are introducing at the end of this year.
    14.30h: I have the results of a concept test corporate did on some ideas they have for Jungle Formula. I’m anxious to see and go through the report.
    15h: I have a call with Zenith, our media agency to discuss the media planning for my brands. Which weeks do I want to go on television, what target audience do I want to focus on?
    16h: No more meetings for today, so I spend the rest of my day on making a content road map for the Ymea online plans, which I’ll discuss with the online agency next week.

    3. Why did you want to work here specifically at Omega Pharma? What appealed to you?
    The brands they represent. Davitamon, Biodermal, Lactacyd etc. are big players in drug stores, with a big marketing budget to spend. Also, I like the fact that some of these brands are still local and thus plans, new products, TVCs are created here and not in a big corporate office.

    4. What do you love most about your job?
    The independence and autonomy. I really have the feeling that I’m responsible for my brands and that I can determine for a large part where I will take my brand in the future.

    5. Are there new things you have learned during your time here?
    Obviously, I’ve learned many things during my time at Omega Pharma, especially since it’s my first job. Besides learning everything about marketing and branding, I’ve learned how to manage a project. A brand manager at Omega Pharma often operates as project manager, mainly for new product development. Launching a new product in the market really requires good project planning and management, as all the parties of an organization are involved at several points (regulatory, supply, finance, customer service, etc.).

    6. What is the biggest challenge you faced until now?
    Dealing with a failure. When I first started my job, I was responsible for the marketing of Davitamon Sport. A stretch for Davitamon into the sports nutrition business, after investing a lot of time and money on the marketing, we had to decide to stop with Davitamon Sport as the business was not really profitable and unfortunately just not the success we had hoped for. As a marketer you tend to take this personally and really question yourself and the plans you’ve made, but the truth is not everything you will launch will be a success and there could be a 100 reasons for it. All you can do is take a step back, analyze what you could have done better and take those learnings with you for the next time.

    7. Seeing as Omega Pharma is not a huge corporation, not a lot of people work within the company. Is this noticeable in the culture of the organization?
    Definitely. I know all my colleagues and it feels like one big team. The atmosphere is informal and the organization is very flat, you can always walk by the CEO if you have a question or an idea. I think this also highly contributes to the speed and flexibility of the organization. If we have a great idea, it can be discussed with the management the next day, and implemented a week later.

    8. What kind of activities are organized within the team?
    I myself am head of “the Borrelcommissie”, so I organize monthly drinks for the entire organization. Location varies from the office to Biergarten in summer. Next to that we have a Christmas event, a two-day trip, brainstorm day, goodbye dinners, etc. Obviously we also have activities that are more business related such as a marketing team building event, online marketing trainings, inspiration sessions at our media agency etc.

    9. Are there new internships soon available?
    We are looking for new interns several times a year. We always have 3-4 marketing interns (for our big brands such as Davitamon, Biodermal, Lactacyd, XLS-medical), a category management intern and an e-commerce intern. In June we will need a lot of new interns, so perfect if you want to spend the second half of the year doing an internship. Internships are mostly 5-6 months and 4-5 days a week, but this can be flexible.

    10. What makes working for Omega Pharma different than working for other companies?
    To be honest I haven’t worked for other companies, so this for me is difficult to answer. I think the fact that we are a small company with a highly entrepreneurial spirit, where most things are decided locally is quite rare in the FMCG world.

    11. What makes an internship at Omega Pharma valuable for a student?
    An intern at Omega Pharma is not responsible for only one part of marketing, such as online marketing or marketing activation. At Omega Pharma you gain knowledge on many parts of marketing from social media to pack design and innovation. Also as an intern you get a great deal of responsibility and the chance to manage your own projects. Already in her 2nd week I gave my intern full responsibility for two online articles for Davitamon that would appear on the website of one or our biggest e-tailers and when I’m on holiday she is the first contact.

    12. What are the chances for someone who has done an internship at Pharma to get a future job here?
    Omega Pharma is a small company, so we don’t always have a starters-function available. Currently two of the interns got a job as a junior brand manager after a 6 month internship, so it is definitely possible! We’ve also helped one of our interns to get a starters function at an online marketing agency we work with.

    13. What kind of qualities would the perfect candidate for Omega Pharma have?
    Independent, pro-active and savvy. You don’t need to be experienced yet, but you should definitely be willing to learn and able to process information quickly. Qualities we always appreciate next to that is analytical skills, communication skills and a basic understanding about marketing and branding.

    14. What kind of tips do you want to give to the students who are really interested and want to apply for an internship or a job?
    It’s pretty simple. Write an e-mail to info@omega-pharma.nl with your CV and motivation for starting an internship at Omega Pharma and include some background information about yourself. If you are invited for an interview the biggest tip I can give you is be spontaneous and enthusiastic. As a brand manager you work with your intern really closely and having an enthusiastic intern in your team who is really eager to learn is definitely what we prefer.

    Omega Pharma is participating in the MAEUR Speeddating Event on the 22nd of March, so that could be the ideal opportunity to introduce yourself to us!