Most individuals fear the thought of their business failing. One such business that was on the verge of shutting down was Deltha Pharma, a pharmaceutical company developing and marketing high-quality food supplements. It was facing an unavoidable debt crisis. Helping change the business’s inevitability of failure into a raging success was Maria Francesca Aceti, Chief Executive Officer, Deltha Pharma. “My father, who was a doctor, had invested some money in this company. Unfortunately, soon after its foundation, it went near bankruptcy. The old CEO had given up, so I tried to save it to minimize his loss, against everyone’s advice,” reveals Maria.
A chemical engineer by profession, Maria embarked upon the journey of CEO of Deltha Pharma at the tender age of 28. She was working at ENEA, a very important research centre in Italy, on a project for the production of electric energy by gasification of coal. What started as a commitment to relaunch the company has now become a drive to attain market dominance and recognition as a leading pharmaceutical company.
Bringing the Organization Back to Life
Maria took multi-pronged strategic approaches to revive the brand and get it to the market-leading position it enjoys today. She commenced the journey of saving the company from its downfall by earning the trust of her sales agents, customers, employees, and all KGLs. It was quite the ordeal, but she overcame it with hard work and by making a few pivotal changes to the existing business model. “One of the first things I needed to improve was the trust of my customers, suppliers, and employees. I could achieve that. Consequently, it allowed me to save the company,” opines Maria.
Procurement of raw materials was made by investing in the newest and best quality raw materials, thus making very high-quality products. The next step Maria took was creating a new sales network and going digital with the rest of the world, making e-commerce and onboarding her topmost priority. All these small steps taken helped her manage to get the company back up on its feet and raise its fortunes within a year.
Placing Quality as Topmost Priority
Established in Rome in 2009, Maria took over the reins of Deltha Pharma 11 years ago and has made ‘quality, safety and efficacy’ her motto that she firmly abides by. She believes that for the success of any organisation, a team of dedicated experts is one of the key elements. Maria has assembled a young and dynamic team of various professional figures, engaged in the continuous search for new raw materials and in developing natural products that guarantee the highest levels of quality, safety and efficacy. All processes are carried out to comply with firm ethical and moral principles, and therefore the products are beneficial for the well-being of the users.
At Deltha Pharma, Maria does not compromise the quality of raw materials, which are exclusively natural and sourced from Italian companies with quality certification. The extraction of the active ingredients is carried out with innovative techniques that keep the structures of the molecules unaltered. All production batches are subjected to strict controls and analysed for the presence of allergens, bacteria, and fungi by external companies. The manufacture of the finished product is executed in the latest generation fully automated production plant, GMP and HACCP certified, according to standardised and pre-established procedures, carrying out all quality controls regularly certified by competent personnel.
In Italy, Deltha Pharma works in partnership with universities and research centres to formulate and validate products. It is affiliated with the most important company in the category, Federsalus. The company is also associated with AICE for foreign trade. “We work to the highest standards of quality and hygiene. We got HACCP; ISO 9001 certifications for quality and ISO 14001 for environmental sustainability,” adds Maria. In the relentless pursuit of prime customer delight, Maria, in tandem with a well-renowned University in Italy, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, formulated a very special probiotic in 2019. This novel probiotic has been patented by the university, with Deltha Pharma possessing the exclusive marketing license for the whole world.
Another lucrative move made by Maria in reviving the brand to its former glorious self was to develop the company’s digital marketing and digitalisation strategy. She has been actively working for several months on digitising all company departments, from the warehouse and logistics operation to the administration, from managing the sales network to the marketing campaigns. Maria plans to accomplish this by interfacing different ERPs, CRM and marketing automation software with each other and government databases using blockchain technology. “We onboarded the most important e-commerce platforms in the world, both B2B and B2C, and became one of the best dealers on Amazon and Alibaba.com. In 2022, Alibaba.com wanted to showcase my company and me as a successful case study. I was one of the speakers on the SMEs day 2022 of the International Trade Centre,” Maria proudly shares.
Another strategy adopted was setting sights on non-manufacturing countries with the successful delivery of several digital campaigns to forge international partnerships. The company signed a distribution agreement with one of the biggest Chinese companies in 2021. Another exciting milestone achieved is the organisation’s new headquarters, a modern space leveraged to promote creativity and productivity. Maria proclaims, “It is an open space made of glass and resin where you can really enjoy spending your working day. I care a lot about my employees. In fact, we implement a system of welfare that includes medical insurance, and we usually close at about 4.40 p.m. With this initiative, people can stay with their children and family; you only need to be well organized!”
It was through her resilience and team effort that Deltha Pharma was equipped to face the Coronavirus pandemic. The organisation employed a proactive approach and imported masks and permeated the market with vitamin D and C food supplements. These moves led to revenue growth of 30 per cent in 2020.
Ahead of the Learning Curve
Maria goes on to tell us how this journey has been a learning process for her as well. During her tenure, she completely changed her mindset. She gained the valuable understanding that she can fail, put in the hard work, and improve her skills. It ultimately led to helping her save Deltha Pharma through economics knowledge, patience, problem-solving, teamwork, and responsibility. “I build relationships with respect and integrity with my team and always keep my mind open to changes. I am open to receiving advice since I think that I can learn from anybody. In a society as fast as ours, I strongly believe that we need to update our knowledge and be a continuous learners,” adds Maria.
As Deltha Pharma embarks upon its journey into the future, Maria reveals the core areas of interest that she intends to pursue: digitisation, eco-sustainability and exports. She explains, “I have just decided to apply for an ESG rating. We are committed to achieving fully sustainable management. This path is based on maximum commitment and transparency to implement an environmental sustainability strategy that encompasses every aspect of the company’s operations.”
Today, Deltha Pharma is recognised as one of the leading pharmaceutical companies facilitating consumers with superior quality food supplements. Currently, the organisation boasts 14 products belonging to its portfolio with an extensive national presence catering to over a thousand pharmaceutical wholesalers, cooperatives, and pharmacies. Additionally, the organisation has established partners in many countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa. The company envisions launching a new product for its liver line called ‘Epatoril Pro’. In conjunction with this, the team is working on releasing a new line of products made as gummies for women and children by next year. The product will be marketed as ‘Penelope’ after Maria’s daughter.