I love to bargain with the farmers

If men millionaires have become a regular presence in Romania and we almost used to the idea that they exist, move and breathe approximatively the same air as we do, a woman of the same caliber seems something different. 

Anca Vlad, the owner of Fildas Company is credited in “Top 50 – Women of Success” by Capital magazine as the richest woman in the country. How such a person lives, what thoughts she has and the meaning of money for her, we tried to find out from the “home-office” of the woman with such an exceptional destiny. “My home is my office. And vice versa”. It was the answer of the woman credited for “Top 50 – Women of Success” by Capital magazine as the richest woman in Romania, Anca Vlad. Somewhere along the Unirii Boulevard, it is an office on the 6th floor. The elevator does not “take” more than 2 persons. One would think: “If I had the money, such a villa with countless rooms and pool I would buy, instead of a flat.” One bedroom converted into reception room, small, full of paintings from which emerges a foggy Venice, creations of the painter Dan Constantinescu, a table in the form of – what else? – a lagoon, flowers and statues representing asian samurai. And the moment of meeting: a woman with blue eyes from which emerges a look bright as a sunrise on the seashore. She caught us admiring the samurai-figures. “Those are a gift for my son, Alex, but he has not yet seen them. He is crazy about martial arts.” The children, Alex, 10 years old and Catrinel, two years younger, are the biggest fortunes of Anca Vlad. As a true-born Bucharest citizen, her destiny is an interesting blend between art and money. “My parents, being geologists, would have wanteed to follow them in the field…but I dreamt of traveling, doing art, literature, thus, letting my parents unaware, I went to the Rosetti High school, English section”. Funny thing is that after the first year she discovered she likes math and moved to the “real” section. She came then to Academy of Economic Studies convinced that if she cannot make art – “I can do art trade”. The first money earned? Since high school, when she was giving tutoring at English or crochet hats for colleagues. “There are anthologies in English and French with translations of Eminescu where you will find the name of Anca Ionescu. This is me, with my maiden name.” In college, she became tour guide at seaside. Or was working at a chemistry lab. “We received 800 lei per month. With the first paycheck I went to Breaza and I bought Romanian traditional blouses of all money.” She looked fondly at pictures. At that time she met and became close friends with the biggest Romanian painter, Margareta Sterian. “Look, these earrings were hers”, says Anca Vlad with adolescent joy. Just as with the same joy, she still preserves the paintings of the maitresse which she bought in time. The followed the real entrance “in the workforce”. “I was working at the Chamber of Commerce, I was giving private lessons and have remained so little free time that sometimes got home at 9 o’clock in the evening and I didn’t have anything to eat but dry bread.” The first big shock: when she managed to get to England in the 80s, to a course in the pharmaceutical field. “I managed to leave with many interventions, because back then, unmarried girls did not get approval go directly to the West.” Once there, she had a nightmare: to stay or not? “I decided, surprisingly after something I interpreted as a sign. I was walking down Kensington Road, in London and I needed the toilet. Suddenly, in front of me appeared the Romanian Embassy building. I said that the fate wants to return home.” Money? “I don’t love money, but the freedom they give us. I don’t keep any objects, and I’m not a person who wants to have, but a person who wants to be, to know and to live more experiences!” The craziest things ever done? “What could be more insane that having a wage of 1800 lei – as I had in ’81 – and to want to buy a 3 bedroom apartment on the Titulescu Blvd, which I keep today, and whose rate was 1900 lei per month?! Is very interesting how, all as a single person I had no right to demand a house. So the president of C.O.W. – Committee of Workers, though – signed a paper that said «Ms. Anca Ionescu is likely to marry!» Then came 1989 with two major events: the marriage and the Revolution.” The life of Anca Vlad was about to change. Hm, I wonder how lives a millionaire in dollars? Expensive properties, hot cars, fine food, designer clothes and vacations in exotic places? Maybe for others, but not in this case. Or not at others’ magnitude. “I’m not saying I refuse anything that I think it’s normal – and I think I cover my family’s needs decently. But, here, yesterday I was telling Alex what it means for people of Romania the 50 RON which we spend to McDonald’s, at the movie and electronic games.” Holidays, yeah! “Choose yourself between India and Bermuda, which is more exotic. The children holidays are also mine. But we travel also in the country, at mountains or seaside.” The apartment next to the firm’s office is actually the Vlad’s family home, but in weekends we are leaving for Poiana Tapului, where we have “a small house with a garden, flowers and a cradle in the yard. For me, happiness is to swing in that cradle sometimes”. There is also a mansion near the capital, at Mogosoaia, which is in conservation. “I cannot get used at all there. I am from Bucharest, raised at the block and I do not cherish the country life. And it’s very time consuming when to maintain such mansion, there are all sort of problems with power, with the electricity, it’s like you’re far away from the world.” She’s used to search for ways to save. “But I couldn’t resist to a Laura Biagiotti dress, which seemed tailored for me, or to an invitation at International Conference of Women Entrepreneurs. Then I felt that I’m rich.” Recounting, her eyes filled again with azure, as if there was still need for more blue. Pleasures? “When I wake up in the morning and the children are waiting for breakfast, when they come home from school and play or do their homework. When we have fun at «train of horrors» through amusement parks in the countries we get. We seek always the biggest! … Or when I’m at the market! Yeah, I get on out there, especially for vegetables and fruits. I love to bargain over price with the farmers of the Matache market!” Free time? “Very little. I even took a course in England about how to get free time. Now, i have it «scheduled» and i try to respect it!” Marriage? It proves to be a delicate subject, because after 12 years of marriage, there is no “Mr. Vlad” anymore in the landscape.

“He’s an engineer, a computer specialist. I guess he didn’t kept up the pace with the rhythm I was working. We were like with the caravan, like the circus, moving from city to city, where we have the company’s offices.” We kind of wanted to see the “family’s nest” from the next apartment, but we did not have success. “It’s a very intimate thing and I want to protect my children. I managed to stand up to appear more discreet in your publications. Now I cannot even walk in a store with more expensive things because I am recognized by saleswomen and waiting to buy.” However, in this office-home we would see something more. A meeting room with a long, turquoise table – “my favorite color” – happily framed in paintings of the same colors, made by the maestro Viorel Marginean. The hallway ends with a staircase leading to an upper floor, where we are told that “there are other offices”. A huge tapestry of Viorica Jacob looks like a stairway to heaven. The art inspires even now, from the palm of destiny the life of Anca Vlad. After she delegated a great deal of responsibilities of her company, she handles now more her foundation, named “Fildas Art”. She tries to help as many as more true artists. The azure slowly melts towards dusk and is a sign that we must go. From door, our lips accommodate one last question: “What is the biggest regret of your life?” The answer is straight, but confusing, as the idea that, beyond those blue eyes, it sees “the green” of tens of millions of dollars “that I never knew to make tripe soup. It’s too painstaking!…” Wealth of more than $ 55 million, Anca Vlad is the president of the Fildas Company, the market leader in Romania in terms of import and distribution of medicinal products. According to the “Top 50 – Women of Success” in Romania, conducted by the Capital magazine, the company had in 2003 a turnover of $ 60 million. Fildas has over 600 employees and owns two pharmaceutical customs warehouses in Bucharest and Pitesti. It has 14 branches in the country and over 3,000 clients. Since 1998, through the acquisition of other companies, Fildas benefits from a network of 60 pharmacies. Currently Fildas group, in which Anca Vlad owns 100% of the shares, is valued at over $ 55 million. Anca Vlad spends her holidays only with her children, the boy Alex, aged 10 years old, and the girl, Catrinel, 8 years old, who are the greatest wealth o Anca Vlad. Their mother is trying to teach them the value of money even by now. The school, movies, computer games and also the piano lessons are their main concerns. Their holidays are Anca Vlad’s holidays. They like to take their mother in amusement parks located all over the places they travel, and their biggest pleasure is the “horror train”, as they did last year when they were in Geneva, Switzerland. 1st place in the “Top 50 – Women of Success” Anca Vlad is not only the richest Romanian woman, In “Top 50 – Women of Success published by “Capital” magazine this year, in March, topped first, on par with the famous soprano Mariana Nicolesco. Randomness makes the two women to be best friends.

Taken from libertatea.ro