Best Online Business Magazine.

Maria Francesca Aceti: The Tenacious Leader Who Makes Things Happen

The tenacious Maria Francesca Aceti has never allowed lack of experience or obstacles stop her from doing what she thinks is right. She has an innate determination to make things happen. About 11 years ago, when Deltha Pharma srl was on the brink of bankruptcy, Maria, 28 years old then, decided to take over its reins and steer it out of the turbulent waters. Within a year of taking charge as the CEO, she raised the fortune of the pharmaceutical company.

“Successo” is the Italian word for success. It means “something has happened,” which is also Maria’s definition of success. In her dictionary, success is all about “making things happen.” She explains, “it means to have some goals and make everything in your possibility and more to reach it.” She has been doing exactly that ever since she started her professional journey. First, she sets targets and then, step by step, makes them happen. “Big things start from small ones,” says Maria.

Taking Plunge into the Unknown

Maria, a chemical engineer, had no plans to lead a pharmaceutical company. She stepped onto a different field because of her father, who is a doctor. When Deltha Pharma was launched in Rome in 2009, Maria’s father, other doctors, and pharmacists, who were interested in the supplement and nutraceutical field, saw potential in it. Maria’s father invested some of his money in this developer and marketer of high-quality food supplements. Unfortunately, soon after its founding, the company was near bankruptcy.

When Maria learned that the company was struggling to survive and her father could lose his money, she decided to step into the leadership role to save it. “The old CEO had given up, so I decided to try and save it in order to minimize my father’s loss,” she says.

Many people tried to dissuade Maria from leading Deltha Pharma. At the time, she was working at ENEA, a very important research center for energy in Italy, on a project related to the production of electric energy by gasification of coal. But, once she made up her mind, there was no stopping Maria from taking the plunge into the unknown.

Strewn with Challenges

When Maria became the CEO of Deltha Pharma in 2010, she was a young woman with no experience in the pharmaceutical field. The company had huge debts, so in order to prevent bankruptcy, Maria opted for debt restructuring. She also decided to create new products and a new sales network. But it was tough to make things happen. No one thought that she could make a difference and turn around things. And it was also a challenge to make sales agents, customers, suppliers, employees, and all KOLs trust her.

“It was really hard,” Maria says. “But I overcame it with hard work, consistency, and by always keeping promises, and with some important changes in the business model.” It did not take long for Maria to save Deltha Pharma. She succeeded in making it a profitable entity in less than a year.

Eventually, last year, Maria bought a new building, which after a long work of restructuration has become their new headquarter. “When I crossed the door for the first time, I had tears in my eyes,” she says. “It is amazing. The office has an open space and is modern and green, made of glass and resin where you can really enjoy spending your working day.”

Steps Taken to Achieve Goals

“Quality, safety, and efficacy” is the motto of Maria as the leader of Deltha Pharma. She took multiple steps to ensure the company’s growth and success. First, Maria made some important pivots in the product development process after thinking about what people wanted. She changed raw materials that were being used to make supplements, buying only the newest and the best available in the market, such as nanoparticles and vegetable steam cells. Her aim was to make only very high-quality new products.

In 2019, under Maria’s leadership, Deltha Pharma partnered with Italy’s top university – Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. “Together, we formulated a very special probiotic, on which we made some clinical trial at the Policlinico A. Gemelli of Rome,” Maria says. The university has patented the product, and the company has received an exclusive marketing license for the entire world.

Maria leads a very young and dynamic team. They are engaged in search of new raw materials and development of natural products. According to Maria, the raw materials, all exclusively natural, are sourced from Italy-based companies certified for quality. And the extraction of the active ingredients is carried out with innovative techniques, which keep the structures of the molecules unaltered.

Maria and her team ensure that the products they develop are of the highest quality, safety, and efficacy, in compliance with the company’s ethical and moral principles. Maria points out that users find their products useful for their well-being. Furthermore, she adds that all production batches are subjected to strict controls and analyzed for presence of allergens, bacteria, and fungi by external companies.

The finished products are manufactured in the latest-generation, fully-automated production plant, which is GMP and HACCP certified, according to the standardized and pre-established procedures. Maria says they carry out all quality controls, which get regularly certified by competent personnel.

Digitalization and Eco-sustainability

Digital marketing is one of the best fields that Maria developed at Deltha Pharma. She decided that they need to get on board some of the most popular eco-commerce platforms in the world, both in B2B and B2C spaces. “We became one of the best dealers on Amazon and; in fact, in 2022, wanted to highlight me and my company as a case history of success,” Maria says. “I was also one of the speakers at the SMEs Day 2022 of the International Trade Center.”

As Maria believes that the world has become limited, her attention has shifted from dealing with manufacturing companies to creating successful digital campaigns that can enable them to find international partners.

In 2018, Maria added an export area to the company, and in 2021, they signed a distribution agreement with a major Chinese distributor. It is selling its products on Tmall. Maria points out that this also helped them respond to the Covid-19 pandemic crisis effectively. “We were resilient and reactive,” she says, adding that they imported masks and placed on market Vitamin D and C food supplements very fast. As a result, Deltha Pharma’s revenue grew by 30 percent in 2020.

“The company now has a strong vocation towards digitization and eco-sustainability,” Maria says. There are 15 products on the list. Some market leaders in the reference sector are present throughout the national territory, serving more than a thousand pharmaceutical wholesalers, cooperatives, and pharmacies in the country and distributing products in 16 countries all around the world.

More from this issue
1 of 3

Deltha Pharma is also associated with AICE for foreign trade. And, as it works to ensure the highest standards of quality and hygiene, it received the ISO 9001 certification for quality and ISO 14001 for environmental sustainability in 2022.

Most Important Recognition

Maria recalls that she was “very young” when she started working in Deltha Pharma. During her 11 years in the company, she has received plenty of recognition. Many employees were grateful and said “Thanks” to her after she had repaid the debt within a year. “This is one of the most important recognition for me because instead of giving up and making them lose their job, I saved more than 30 families that had been working in the company before my entrance,” says Maria.

After she began working with other countries, Maria established successful relationships with countries such as Iraq and Libya, which were not only far from Italy but also very difficult to work with. And Maria also counts these among her list of recognition: the most important Italian association asked her for some advice; wanted her to be one of the speakers at the SMEs day 2022 at the International Trade Center and make a case history of her success

In 2022, Maria says they will probably be listed in the Italian “leader della crescita” and “Campioni di crescita” because of their impressive revenue growth.

Best Student in School 

Maria may have taken charge of Deltha Pharma by chance, but she did everything right. She is successful because of that. “I’m a perfectionist, consistent, and tenacious, as well as determined,” says Maria. Even in her school, she was always one of the best students.

“I strongly wanted to achieve the best marks that I could, and I used to attend many competitions for students such as chemistry Olympics and Archimedes games. It was tough but I felt immense satisfaction,” says Maria.

She decided to enroll in chemical engineering, known to be one of the most difficult degrees in Italy. It was “definitely” hard, Maria says. Only a few students could finish their studies. She believes that it shaped her personality and her mindset.

Work-Life Balance

“Good organization” is critical to maintaining a work-life balance, according to Maria. She starts her day early. She wakes up at 6.30 a.m. and then gets ready; checks and schedules her to-do list. After that, she wakes up her 7-year-old daughter, eats breakfast with her, and then drives her to school. “Then I spend my working day in our new headquarter or at our factory,” says Maria.

The office of Deltha Pharma closes at 4.40 p.m. so that all the employees, including Maria, can spend time with their families. Children are always welcome in the headquarter. “I know all my employees’ children because sometimes they come to work with their parents,” says Maria. “We really feel like a big family, and my daughter loves coming to my office with me.”

Maria keeps her team focused and motivated by regularly thanking them. She also gives them awards, just to tell them how important they are to the company and her.

“As the CEO of Deltha Pharma, I know that I am fully responsible for the company’s performance,” Maria says. “But, over the years, I have learned that one of the most important things for entrepreneurs who want their companies to grow is: how to delegate and empower their teams so that they can think about the development of business.”

What Is Next?

In the last few years, many things have changed, especially after the Covid-19 outbreak. More people are now interested in keeping themselves healthy. According to Maria, the greatest challenge is not to extend life but to expand it. She also points out that all over the world, there is still an inadequate intake of vitamins and minerals in the diet: only 1 in 10 adults consumes the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, and scientifically, it is proven that supplementing one’s diet could prevent many diseases. “I would really like to spread the message that a quality supplement can help you improve your health and life,” says Maria.

In the macro area, Maria’s interests are digitization, eco-sustainability, and export. The company has recently decided to apply for an ESG rating. “We are committed to achieving fully sustainable management,” Maria says. “This path is based on maximum commitment and total transparency in order to implement an environmental sustainability strategy that encompasses every aspect of the company’s operations.”

For several months now, Maria has also been working on the digitization of the company’s departments, including warehouse, logistics operation, administration, management of the sales network, and the marketing campaigns. The plan is to interface different ERPs, CRM, and software of marketing automation with each other and with government database using blockchain technology.

In the next few months, the company’s liver line is set to expand with the launch of a new product in the market, called Epatoril Pro. And, in 2023, Maria intends to introduce a new line of gummies for women and children, which will be named after her daughter “Penelope.”

Message to Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Maria’s message to aspiring entrepreneurs stems from her experience of bringing Deltha Pharma out of the woods. She tells them that everything is possible and nowadays there are a lot of opportunities, but it is better to not work alone. “You need to have a motivated team and build relationships with respect and integrity,” Maria says. “Also, be passionate and determined about your goal and always keep your mind open to changes and flexible because you need to be a continuous learner.”

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More