She confesses that in addition to being a great salesperson and pouring all her energy into achieving and exceeding the goals set, what she likes the most is managing teams, which she likes to give ground and challenge them. Gema Mancha (Madrid, 1970) overwhelms with her speech and knowledge of her in the market in which she operates. Days before confinement, she was appointed general director for Spain and Portugal of the company Merz Aesthetics, as a division of the German group Merz Pharma, dedicated to the art of aesthetic medicine, in which she has been working for seven years. She has a degree in Business Administration, with postgraduate degrees in marketing from ESIC and Business Administration from Esade. Previously, she worked at the Integral Dermatological Institute (IDC) and at the multinational GSK. Her work is not her only priority: her family has a great weight in everything she does.
How do you face your appointment as CEO days before the state of alarm for the pandemic is decreed?
Two days before the lockdown, I signed the act of chairman of the company’s board, and the next thing I had to tell the team was that we had to go home. I had never been a general manager, and that it was my turn at that time was something unexpected, but one of my strengths is communication and thanks to that we maintained the essence of what we are in the group, a family business. Everyone knew me, the team is made up of 54 people, because I worked in the company, and I had international support.
Did she become a chief technology officer?
It already was, because I consider myself a disruptive person, I was already a rebel, I have always liked to challenge the established, I look for a way to do things differently. And if there is another way to do things, there is an opportunity cost. You have to challenge what is there. We create, launch problems, improve them and relaunch them. There is never a finished project because everything changes, the environment or the competition.
The Merz group is a family business, does this fact make any difference?
Two weeks ago, at a world congress of aesthetic medicine in Paris, I met a woman member of the founding family, a professor at a university, and she told me that she makes impact investments. That time I was talking with her made me connect more with the purpose and with the values of the company, which are innovation, commitment and trust. I consider them fundamental and they are the ones I always follow. It is very important to be honest, to be authentic. So am I, and so is Merz. In this company there are no shareholders, things are done for real, not because you have to achieve economic results, that too, but that is not the priority.
What is it about this firm that makes you passionate in that way?
It is aspirational. We are like a luxury brand. Aesthetic medicine is like going to the premium doctor. Also, you have to be versatile. You have the pharma part, which gives you rigor, and a transactional part, in which everything has to be measurable, and another aspirational part. We are also leaders in what we do. For three years we have had 247 registered hyaluronics, and few brands have 70% of the market. We add value by meeting the needs of both the doctor and the patient. We set the standard. Now we are talking about the need to do skin ultrasound without selling ultrasound scanners. What we sell are fillers and botulinum toxin, and we believe it is important to know where it is best to apply it, making a mapping of the face, so that the patient is more polytreated to avoid secondary problems. There is innovation that is not always capitalized on, but innovation is also reputation and goes hand in hand with consistency. We are concerned that in aesthetics, the patient increasingly has safer and more effective techniques.
What is the patient looking for in aesthetic medicine?
Look above all for naturalness. Look for natural results, that give you security, but that change your appearance. The new generations, for example, love to say that repairs have been made, in the same way that they teach braces. [aparatos de ortodoncia].
Has the demand for aesthetic arrangements increased with the pandemic?
With the pandemic there has been a growth of about 12%. We used to think we were more handsome than we are, but the Zoom effect [las reuniones virtuales] it has brought to light what we did not recognize, and has created the need to fix what we do not like. The demand for aesthetic medicine has risen. Before, it was thought that this was only done by the rich, but now prices have been democratized, and for 400 euros you can get a toxin injection that lasts four months. It’s more affordable and not so elitist anymore. Therefore, now we have to be more ethical than ever. We have a movement that says that beauty is an attitude, everyone has to feel happy without losing their essence.
She confesses that she is a good manager of diverse talents.
I like to combine different, intelligent, committed and formal people, because that is easier to identify. We have an innovation department, which, within the Merz group, only exists in Spain. And I identified that person and created the position for her because she was innovative. When you let people do, you achieve the challenges you set for yourself. I always challenge them that we have to achieve a little more than the goals we set for ourselves. My obligation is to create future leaders in the company.