Stada, a German pharmaceutical company that provides affordable generic and over-the-counter medicines, named Sharmaine Abarientos as the first general manager of its Philippine unit.
The Philippine unit began as Croma Medic Inc. in 1986 as an ophthalmic distributor and later on ventured into consumer healthcare. In 2008, Stada Arzneimittel AG acquired 100 percent of the company. It adopted the Stada branding in 2018 and by the end of 2019, Stada acquired the skin care brand of GlaxoSmithKline’s Oilatum.
Oilatum is one of the well-known and trusted skin-care brands in the Philippines which is designed to provide daily treatment regimen to reduce the occurrence of dry skin and eczema.
Under her leadership, Abarientos aims to expand the current line-up by launching consumer brands in the Philippines such as the full-range of Oilatum products and Zerochol, a plant-based cholesterol-lowering product. Stada also looks at acquisition of local companies in the country.
“It’s because of market dynamics. Stada also wants to be holistic in terms of its offering to the customers and it so happened that the recent acquisitions of Stada globally are in the consumer line, so last year, Stada in Germany acquired Thornton and Ross, which is known for the consumer brands and under that was Natures Aid. By mid of last year, Stada acquired consumer brands of GlaxoSmithKline, so I guess that started the advent of acquisition of the consumer line. I think that paved the way for the shift in direction into not just being a generic company but also venturing into the consumer business,” Abarientos says.
On her vision for the company, Abarientos says it is “very ambitious”.
“I always tell this during our meetings that I do believe in the law of attraction. In everything that I do, I always put a picture in what I want. I really want to take Stada Philippines to greater heights. I want Stada Philippines to be a major player not just in prescription or the pharmaceutical market but also in the consumer segment. I want it to be recognized as a trusted company not just by our external customers but also of our own team, of our employees. That is really how I see Stada Philippines in the near future,” she says.
“Personally, if you really believe in something that would easily influence your team, very critical is that you are supported by your leadership team in putting that vision into a reality, so I handpick the leadership team. Most of them are people that I have worked with before that I know how committed they are, and this leadership team should share the same passion and dedication as well in attaining the vision for the company and I always believe in open communication,” she says.
“My major focus is the people, and they are my inspiration and my motivation. I share this vision to everyone, to each of the employees of Stada Philippines and as much as I can. I also take initiative to share this vision even to the outsiders of the company so that they would know that there is Stada who can, whose vision is really to provide quality, affordable healthcare solutions to our country,” says Abarientos.
When asked about her view on women taking on the job in the healthcare industry, Abarientos says women nowadays are willing to step up and are more assertive of how they feel. She says there are more opportunities in the corporate sector for women leaders, and the industry is already recognizing it.
Abarientos says her core foundation on improving Stada’s team boils down to prioritizing everything.
“I really have to handpick people who have the expertise in the specific departments that will help me. Not only that, I wanted also someone that would fit in the culture that we would like to build that sometimes no matter how competent that person is, if he does not fit into the culture, he cannot maximize his strength. You have to be comfortable in the environment that they are living in, so that you can really draw the potential of the person. So when I usually do interviews, more than the skills which you can really look at the CV [curriculum vitae], I really look into how well he/she will blend with other people in the company, how well he/she would fit in the culture that we would like to build,” she says.
As first general manager of Stada Philippines, Abarientos wants to build a culture of openness and transparency in the company. Within a few years with Stada, Abarientos was able to create an immediate and significant impact, most especially on the growth of the Philippine unit, both within the organization and external relations.
Prior to joining STADA, Abarientos was a senior product manager of Abbott from 2007 to 2010; market development manager of Baxter International Inc. from 2010 to 2011; business unit manager of Cambert Pilipinas, a distributor of oral care products like Sansfluo and Xywhite and Lauat Hair Care, from 2011 to 2014; and senior product manager of Servier, a French pharmaceutical company from 2014 to 2018. Abarientos joined Stada in September 2018 as the commercial director.
Abarientos studied at Angeles University Foundation where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Therapy. She took up her Master’s Degree in Business Administration and Management at the University of the Philippines.