Simon Duchateau, General Manager for Bulgaria, aspires to enhance and expand patient care in the country
What does it take to make healthcare better and patients – healthier? Servier knows the answer. The French-based pharmaceutical company present in 150 countries worldwide is managed by a non-profit foundation. This "foundation" operating model makes Servier different because it gives it a high degree of independence and allows it to put patients' interests at the centre of its activities, rather than shareholder or short-term financial interests. That is why the Group invests 20% of its revenues in research and development. Traditionally, Servier has focused on cardiology, diabetology and venous diseases, but recently its focus has shifted to include research in oncology and targeted treatments to address largely unmet medical needs. Servier is also dedicated to leaving a positive and sustainable impact on society.
The company has been present in Bulgaria since 1993. We talked to learn more about its present and future with Servier Bulgaria's new general manager, Simon Duchateau.
You became Servier Bulgaria's GM in September 2023. What are your main goals as the manager of the branch?
I am here to help the Group reach its 2030 ambitions of being an innovative, patient-driven company, resilient and growing with proud and passionate teams.
I intend to build on the successes of my predecessors in making Servier a major actor in the Bulgarian pharmaceutical market.
To do this, we must continue to increase access to our existing medications for Bulgarian patients but also make the new treatments rapidly accessible. This will be achieved through proper recognition of the value of these medications and collaborating with the healthcare community to ensure the right pathways are there for patients to receive the treatments they need.
And finally, I want to give back to the community through impactful social programs such as our support to Teach for Bulgaria (Заедно в час) and reducing our carbon footprint.
How does Servier Bulgaria stand out from the company's other CEE branches?
Servier Bulgaria was one of the first affiliates of the Group in the region, we celebrated last September our 30-year anniversary.
Our presence in Bulgaria is of strategic importance to the Group extending beyond the commercial activities. With the help of Bulgarian medical experts, we play a key role in the development of new drugs by participating in clinical trials that are essential to obtain market authorization for all of Europe.
Our team is recognized in CEE for its innovative ideas and professionalism. Comprising predominantly of doctors and pharmacists with exceptional scientific expertise, we contribute significantly to shaping Servier's commitment to advancing healthcare.
In 2023, Servier Bulgaria was declared Best Place To Work in Bulgaria. Tell us more about the working conditions in the company?
We are very proud of this achievement. Our organization received outstanding scores across several aspects such as culture, career and development opportunities, leadership, compensation and benefits and talent management. Becoming Best Place To Work, we have joined a prestigious group of companies worldwide that are committed to the highest standards of working conditions and a high focus on employee experience.
People are what makes the difference. We are convinced that outstanding results are achieved by happy and fulfilled people, who feel heard and supported.
We are bound by strong values – care, dare to innovate, growth by sharing, commitment to succeed. We work in a friendly and supportive atmosphere. We trust and respect each other. In Servier Bulgaria we promote employees' wellbeing, productivity, accountability, open communication, reward and growth. We offer opportunities to develop and grow internally, that is why we are able to attract and retain talents. A great testament to this is that the average employee in Servier Bulgaria has been with the company for 12 years. When you choose to work in Servier, you choose to improve patients' lives and drive progress in healthcare alongside people who love what they do.
But this is not the end. We will strive to further improve our people practices ensuring a working environment which enables employees to thrive and reach their ultimate potential.
One of your latest campaigns is an information one, dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyle choices for people suffering from chronic conditions. Why?
At Servier, we know that to obtain the best treatment outcomes you must go beyond medication. There is no such thing as a "magic" pill and many chronic conditions also require lifestyle changes. We take that step by investing in education. It's in everyone's interest that patients be informed and treated the best way possible. We work hand-in-hand with doctors, pharmacists and patient associations to help patients suffering from chronic diseases. We have recently launched an illustrated handbook for patients to better manage their chronic conditions and prevent complications in a simple and understandable language. The winner of MasterChef 2021 Maria Zhekova, the psychotherapist Zlatko Galabov, the yoga instructor Lana Petkova, the nutritionist Maria Nikolova, the illustrators Michaela and Borislava Karadjovi, and the pharmacist Desislava Velichkova were involved in writing it (a free online version is available at www.knigazazdrave.com).
And a personal question: what do you like most about living in Bulgaria?
Living in Bulgaria is a delight for many reasons. The rich cultural tapestry, influenced by Thracian, Roman, and Ottoman legacies, fascinates me. Bulgaria's natural beauty, from the Balkan Mountains to the Black Sea coast, is breathtaking. The warmth and hospitality of Bulgarians and the delicious traditional cuisine (I love bob chorba) make daily life enjoyable. Overall, Bulgaria provides a perfect blend of culture, nature, hospitality, and history that I enjoy discovering more of every day.