She graduated from “C.A. Rosetti” High School in Bucharest – with English as teaching language. In the 11th grade, she discovered a new passion: economics. She started participating in Olympic economics competitions and won special prizes for the originality of her approach to practical problems. The teacher who taught her this subject advised her to attend a specialized university. In 1976, Anca Vlad entered the University of Economic Studies – International Economic Relations Department.
She started building her career during her college years. As she mastered English and French very well, she also worked as a translator specializing in chemistry, for pharmaceutical leaflets or at conferences on technical and medical topics.
In 1980, due to the results obtained over the years and the graduation examination, she received an assignment in Bucharest, at a company in the wood industry. The professional experience she gained during the seven years she worked in furniture export – a field in which she advanced to the position of coordinator of the wood products and furniture export activity at national level – was to help Anca Vlad in the next steps of her later life as an entrepreneur. Tracking “efficiency indicators” and designing the detailed export plan for the more than 40 furniture factories in the country were valuable exercises.
“In my spare time and holidays I still work as a translator at international conferences and then as an event organizer for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania. That’s how I met people from many international pharmaceutical companies, chemistry being my specialty as a translator.”
In 1987, an opportunity arose to work at the Chamber of Commerce of Romania, as country manager for a large foreign company – SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals, from England. She used this opportunity to figure out how to work in international marketing. Despite bans during the communist era, she became an avid reader of magazines and marketing books available to American Library subscribers, beginning with Koetler, the first author in the field.
With the publication of Decree 54, the first normative act allowing, after the Revolution, the establishment of a private company, Anca Vlad decides to leave the state sector. First, she set up a marketing office, which was dedicated to providing consultancy services. The first customer would come after six months. “It happened to be a representative of a foreign company I worked for. After some time, when I felt that there was a definite need in the market, I decided to set up a trading company to distribute both human and veterinary pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.”
That’s how Fildas came to be. It started with a turnover of $1.5 million in 1991; at the time the company had seven employees. In 1993, Fildas Trading SRL was founded. All deliveries in the early years were made to Fildas on “trust”, with no guarantee instruments, with pay-as-you-sell and a relatively low commission. But the news that there was a serious private Romanian company in the field of pharmaceuticals and cosmetics reached many companies that were to gradually become suppliers.
A difficult time was the war in the former Yugoslavia – with its consequences – serious market disruptions, including in Romania. Fildas already provides the necessary medication for the one million pigs at Comtim Timisoara, the supply base for both western Romania and Yugoslavia. Veterinary abilities had been developed in the veterinary field and all the big livestock companies had learned about Fildas, a reliable and serious partner. After some time, the line had to be abandoned due to the closure of large pig and cattle farms in Romania.
Anca Vlad had the idea to call the BBC, the British public television, to purchase some interesting TV series, which she offered to the Romanian state television in exchange for cosmetics advertising. Remember the first Aquafresh commercial? Thus, the cosmetics division grew rapidly, sustaining from its profits the growth of the pharmaceuticals trade. Gradually, it was to become dominant in the Fildas Trading structure, due to the growing and more sophisticated demand for medicines at national level. “The idea of successfully developing and coordinating a national network of distribution subsidiaries came from the years of coordinating furniture factories. We created harmony between independence and control”.
Today, Fildas Trading has reached a turnover of over 1 billion euros and the company employs more than 1.800 people. Currently, Fildas Trading is the leader of the pharmaceutical distribution market in Romania. The company owns two pharmaceutical customs warehouses, one in Bucharest and one in Pitesti. It has 15 branches in the country and warehouses totaling 58.000 square meters.
In 1999, the retail part was also created through the acquisition of a company that owned a network of 30 pharmacies and a warehouse in Pitești. Subsequently, reinvesting almost all the profits in development, it has grown to a network of hundreds of pharmacies across the country under the Catena brand. Catena currently has more than 900 units and 6.500 employees, being the leader in Romanian pharma retail.
In 2005, the Fildas-Catena Group created a new brand – Naturalis. It defines herbal nutrition and care products.
The print health magazines Farmacia Ta and Galenus, as well as the websites Tonica.ro and Slabsaugras.ro, part of the Group, are addressed to the general public as well as to physicians and pharmacists. They have millions of readers and followers online.
SensoTv.ro, another brand of the Fildas-Catena group, is an online TV channel with 100.000 users.
How did she manage to build a top business? – “The most important capital of the company is trust. In fact, this is also our motto. It is a company where the relationship between our suppliers, us and our customers is based primarily on trust. We have a very good reputation both at home and abroad”, stated Anca Vlad.
The 2009 crisis was a difficult time for the Group. Currency fluctuations, bank loans with harsh conditions have created major challenges. It was not easy at all, large sums were lost through the devaluation of the Romanian currency in a period of bankruptcies and large payment delays, and the recovery took almost 3 years. Since 2012, however, Anca Vlad’s companies have taken a new turn. The lessons of the crisis have been harsh, but very good. Monitoring financial stability, constantly checking the financial status of customers, stock optimization, carefully controlled growth were valuable lessons learned then.
Anca Vlad is very present in Romanian social and cultural life. Her passion, since her student days, has been and remains plastic art. Fildas Art Foundation represents an extension of the concept of health and beauty towards balance, harmony with yourself and the rest of the world, through culture and social involvement.
Through Fildas Art Foundation, she organizes exhibitions of painting, sculpture and ceramics in Bucharest, in other cities in the country, abroad, sponsors valuable artists in the completion of projects, organizes and prints art albums and catalogues. Moreover, she supports the production of Romanian films (“Octav”, “By the Rails”, “6.9 on the Richter scale”) and sponsors film festivals such as “Anonimul” Film Festival, the American Independent Film Festival and Les Films de Cannes a Bucarest.
Catena sponsored the film “Metronom”, produced by Catalin Mitulescu’s team and directed by Alexandru Belc. Metronom won the “Best Director Award” in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2022 Cannes International Film Festival. Fildas Art is the producer of the documentary film “Gift of Wings”, directed by Corina Voicu, dedicated to the sculptor Pavel Bucur and the dramatic story of “Winged”, the highest monument of non-figurative art in Europe. The film has an impressive track record at international festivals: Best Feature Documentary Award at the Venice Film Festival, Best Feature Film – TMFF, UK, and Impact DOCS Award, Award of Merit Documentary category (USA).
In terms of supporting people from disadvantaged backgrounds or the education of children with fewer opportunities to live, Anca Vlad appreciates and constantly supports the efforts of the teams from Save the Children Romania, Light into Europe, OvidiuRo, Hospice Casa Sperantei and Renasterea Foundation.
Anca Vlad has achieved the performance of being elected, among the few women in Eastern Europe, in the International Association of Women Entrepreneurs – Leading Women Entrepreneurs of The World, along with Veronica Savanciuc, Georgiana Pogonaru and Mariuca Talpes.
In September 2004, she was awarded the Gold Medal for Excellence in Business Practice at the 4th International Forum for Excellence in Business Practice in Geneva. She also ranked first in Capital magazine’s Top Successful Women in both 2004 and 2005.
Over the years, dozens of awards, trophies and distinctions have been added, confirming and celebrating Anca Vlad’s exceptional entrepreneurial spirit and business achievements, including:
– Business Hall of Fame Award for vision and leadership, active involvement in economic, sustainable and responsible community development, model of success in profession and career (2010).
– Award for outstanding achievements in the business sector in Romania, during the second edition of the Business Hall of Fame Gala (2012).
– Diploma of Excellence awarded by Forbes magazine at the Forbes Woman Gala (2012).
– Most Influential Entrepreneur Award, Forbes Woman Gala 2013 – Top 50 Most Influential Women (2013).
– “Female Excellence” Award, for outstanding results in career and activity, awarded within the National Coalition of Romanian Business Women Associations, by the Business Women Association, Cluj (2013).
– Award of Excellence, Forbes Top 500 Business Awards Gala (2014).
– Most Influential Entrepreneur Award, Forbes Woman Gala 2016 – Top 50 Most Influential Women (2016).
– Forbes Romania Top 500 Trophy (2017).
– 1st place in Capital Top 100 Successful Women, category “Entrepreneurship” (2017).
– Diploma of Excellence in Entrepreneurship, at the Capital Gala, 26th edition (2018)
– Trophy for Supporting Early Education Conference, Acorns Gala (2019).
– Most Influential Business Personality Award, Forbes Gala, (2019).
– 1st place in “Top 50 most influential women in Romania” – Forbes (2019).
– The award for “Most Powerful Businesswoman” in Romania, offered by Capital, at the Top 100 Successful Women Gala (2019).
– 1st place in the Top 50 Women in Economy, awarded by the National Confederation of Women Entrepreneurs (CONAF), in the “Women in Economy” Gala (2019).
– The trophy for the most influential lady in business, at the Forbes Woman Gala – Top 50 most influential women in Romania (2020).
– Trophy of Forbes 500 Business Awards Gala (2022).
– “Award for three decades of art in business”, at the CEO Awards Gala 2022, on the occasion of releasing the new catalogue “100 most admired CEOs in Romania”.
– The Personality of the Year 2022 Trophy, in the Health/Pharma category, at the Personality of the Year Gala, organized by business publication Forbes Romania.
In 2005, Fildas was nominated by Europe Business Assembly (EBA), Oxford – England, for the “Best Company in Europe” award, “in recognition of the company’s achievements and outstanding contributions to the progress of Central and Eastern Europe”. At the same time, Anca Vlad received from the Institute of Directors – London – the title of Manager of the Year. On December 8, 2005, she received the “Vocation of Successful Investor” award from “Balcanii” magazine. Also in 2005, Anca Vlad was elected Vice-President of the Romanian Businessmen’s Association (AOAR). In February 2006, she received the “Promise of the Year” award from the AlegRO Foundation for Senso Tv.
Anca Vlad is the Vice-President of the Family Business Network Romania, the representative association of family businesses in Romania, and a member of the Board of European Family Businesses, the representative organization at European level, based in Brussels.
As an ambassador of Romanian female entrepreneurship, Anca Vlad actively participated in events organized by various institutions in Bucharest, New York, Pretoria, Bangkok and Tirana. Actively involved in promoting the country’s image abroad, she financially supported the publication of an extensive supplement about Romania in the International Herald Tribune, edition of July 20, 2007. Forbes magazine has mentioned her several times among the top most influential women in Romania. In 2014, Anca Vlad was the finalist of EY Entrepreneur of The Year.
Fildas Trading has gained international recognition, with the company being nominated in the “Ones to Watch” category of the Top 50 Global Challengers, a Citi Private Bank/Campden Wealth initiative marking the global growth of family businesses. The nomination is all the more important as Fildas Trading is one of only two Eastern European companies in this ranking, ahead of the Ferragamo Group or Bavaria Brewery.
Joys are given by the family, the greatest achievement being the two children, Alexandru and Catrinel, with whom she forms a brave team, full of ideas.