Interview with the new Managing Director of Symeres Groningen

Posted on 1 November 2023

On October 2, Dr Melloney Dröge started in her new role as Managing Director for the Groningen site. Melloney, as an introduction, can you tell us a little about yourself?  

Sure! I was born in Groningen as the eldest child of seven children. After a few years in Groningen we moved as a family to Winsum, and later on to Zuidlaren, in Drenthe. Years later, I made the decision to return to Zuidlaren with my own family, and I still live there with my husband and two daughters. Our eldest daughter is 13 years old and attending a high school in Groningen, and our youngest is almost 11. 

For myself, I am going back to my roots by working in Groningen again. I also love to read, and my house is filled with lots of books, really lots of books, and not just scientific ones! 

Living in Zuidlaren, we make the most of outdoor life as a family by enjoying the opportunity to go walking and cycling. Finally, I do attempt to cook and bake. In the kitchen, I don’t like to experiment. Being a pharmacist at heart, I like to follow recipes precisely!

Can you briefly summarize how your professional career has developed?

My career started in Groningen, first studying pharmacy at the local university. What became clear to me quickly, was that I was more attracted to research, although that was not that common at the time. That is why I chose to do my PhD in pharmacy in Groningen, and I really enjoyed bringing new technologies to this field of research, which was quite an uncommon practice at the time I was studying. 

After my PhD, I stayed on as a postdoc, and taught for a year, and then moved out of the academic world.

Nineteen years ago, I joined Ardena in Assen, which was called ABL then. I joined the company as Project Manager, focusing on bioanalysis of small and large molecules. I was involved in growing the company, and I spent several years developing analytical methods we could use within the company. 

Eventually, I moved to the position of Head of the Project Management Department, collaborating closely with our sales team. Four years ago, the then Managing Director decided to retire, and I was offered the opportunity to move into his role, which I did. In the past five years, we have been able to double the revenue and grow the team to 100 people. 

What was your main motivation for coming to Symeres?

That is a good question; lots of people have asked me that in the past months.

I do see a lot of parallels between my former job and the Managing Director role in Groningen. Actually, I was not looking for something new, but when I was approached for this job, I started to think about it very seriously and I got more and more enthusiastic.

What triggered me to make the switch was that it offered me something new. I like to get out of my comfort zone and that is what this job certainly has to offer. To be honest, it was not a rational decision, but it felt good and still feels good, so I just chose to accept the role and make a major change after 19 years with the same company.

What do you, as a leader of people, believe are essential values that you would like to bring or see in the organization?

I know the direction I want to go, and where I want the company to go. For this, excellent teamwork across all our projects is one of the essentials. I am direct and that is also how I like to work. I prefer clear and open communication. 

Another thing is goal-oriented working; I set goals for myself and for the organization. It is important for me that we are clear and transparent with each other, challenge each other, and keep things moving forward.  

What gives you energy?

Personally, I get a lot of energy from innovating, and I love to be a part of overcoming the challenges that arise. I must be honest, when things become too much of a routine, in the end, my attention drifts away. That’s also one of the main reasons why I chose to accept this challenging position at our Groningen site.

How do you look at the science part of our business? 

Clients often reach out because they don’t have the knowledge, or sometimes they are even stuck on their project. This certainly makes it more interesting, since, for us, it means that the difficult challenges end up on our desks. That is also the reason why we can add lots of value for our clients by helping them to advance.

Where do you believe that Symeres can make a difference?

We as a company need to constantly find unique selling points in what we offer to our clients. From what I have seen so far, I think that we have lots of experience to offer and a very high scientific level. Adding it all up, I think that our outstanding scientists, great teamwork, and the open and pro-active communication style that we have, are our main differentiators.

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