There’s no conflict between stilettos and biotechnology

By Isabel Garzo




Ana Victoria Ugidos is CEO of BTSA Biotecnologías Aplicadas and five other companies. In total, she has 80 people working for her. Hers is a story of entrepreneurship, of fighting against stereotypes, and of hard work.

She didn’t become an entrepreneur as part of any ‘Plan B’, but by vocation.  She was working in a Japanese multinational, and left her work to begin a project with them but with a different focus.

Between that time and her present position, with pharmaceutical plants on several continents, she’s had to fight against some prejudice; in 2016, there are still people who are surprised to find a woman heading a biotechnology company. “And they’re even more surprised if you don’t look like a ‘suffragist’”, she says with good humor. “Personally, I take care of myself, I exercise and I like fashion, I don’t leave the house without my stilettos, and all that might seem to contradict research and biotechnology. There are still stereotypes and it’s extraordinarily hard to get rid of them.”

She also diverges from the stereotype of an entrepreneur because she’s turned her project into a large multinational. But as she also observes, there’s still some of that early startup philosophy. “The enthusiasm and passion are still there and I’m confident they always will be, they’re my driving force and my essence. I’ve learned to dream and create like an entrepreneur, but to work, develop projects and manage my companies like a businesswoman.”

And it is just that dualism that she also wants on her team: “It’s necessary to find a working team in which everyone feels committed, but at the same time they must have the freedom to develop their own ideas and way of working. Delegating responsibilities to someone who is better than you in a certain field is the hardest thing to accept and yet the best thing that can happen to you.”

Ugidos has also launched a line of beauty products. She doesn’t feel that beauty care for the body is just a question of vanity. “Skin is our largest organ and we have a duty to care for it. If we take care of our heart, our liver and our kidneys… why not care for our skin? Beside, when we care for our appearance we like ourselves better, self-esteem goes up and our mood improves, and we also please others more.”

The original line of research was the care of skin for people with whose skin has deteriorated because of aggressive medical treatments, and this led to treating other dermatological ailments. “We’ve taken care of the smallest details, such as the design of the container, the organic and natural ingredients… Our projects have earned Ecocert, with ecological certification in Europe,” she explains. “In people with healthy skin, but which has suffered from factors like the sun, pollution, cold and stress, the results we’re observing are even more surprising.”

Ugidos is nominated as “Creator” in the EPIC prizes given by IE. During the Global Senior Management Program that she studied at IE, she not only learned from her professors but also her fellow students. “They taught me the importance of good, ongoing training. I also learned that limits are imposed only by ourselves.”