Alexia Anapliotis has been part of the management team at Merete GmbH since the 1990s when she initially focused on the development of the company’s sales and marketing operations. In 2015, Alexia ascended to the role of CEO for Merete Holding company which oversees the operations of both Merete GmbH and Aristotech Industries. As of 2022, Alexia also has taken on the role of Managing Director and owner of the company.
Throughout her years at Merete, Alexia has kept in close contact with healthcare professionals in the many different countries Merete serves. From her worldwide and multicultural experiences with these professionals, Alexia recognized the significant impact she as a leader and business owner could have on shaping the internal culture of Merete and how its diversity could better serve its customers. Alexia assembled an equally balanced group of talented male and female managers to consistently deliver unique and highly differentiated product solutions to the ever-changing needs of the healthcare industry. Merete GmbH is well known for its workforce equity.
In this interview, Alexia Anapliotis discusses her journey of becoming a female CEO and business owner in the male-dominated field of endoprosthetics and how her unique, female, perspective shaped the company’s mission, vision, and culture.
You are the owner of Merete GmbH. Please tell us the story of how you grew into this role.
In the first few years, I worked extensively in direct sales and marketing, both in Germany and internationally. The direct customer exchange and the presentation of the Merete companies and our products had a great impact on me. I had the opportunity to share and develop my vision of what the company would be like in the coming years. I wouldn't speak so much of my role, but how the company Merete developed such prominence in the industry.
Merete was and is to this day, an organization with talented men and women who have made quite an impact in the endoprosthetics industry. In the last 25 years, I have made a deliberate effort to find and develop talented female employees to work with our equally qualified male employees to ensure we are properly supporting the different cultures, countries, and customers we serve. As one of the first female leaders in the endoprosthetics industry, I had the opportunity to shape our company’s culture to mirror our multifaceted customer base. It has been quite a responsibility and one, that in my opinion, I challenged myself to achieve.
What role does equality between men and women play at Merete?
Equality between men and women plays a big role at Merete. But it has taken quite some time to achieve. Merete can only function sustainably when all of our employees work together and achieve an ideal work-life balance. As we all know, the roles men and women play in their respective family lives vary greatly at times. At Merete, we have worked hard to recognize and accommodate these different roles and ensure everyone is treated the same at the company and free to pursue an active and fulfilling family life.
In contrast to other companies, Merete also has a high proportion of 50% of women in management positions. How is this reflected in the corporate culture?
A lot is communicated in a transparent and goal-oriented way, which significantly contributes to employee satisfaction, creativity, and sales growth. An equal team of men and women in the company promotes open-mindedness toward different ways of thinking and perspectives. This allows us to develop innovative solutions even when it comes to complex issues.
I've been following the Allbright Foundation for some time now. It works to promote for more women and diversity in executive business positions.
The Allbright Foundation has published a report that men are increasingly recruiting men, which inevitably leads to an imbalance. Since our management positions are 50% female, our positions are filled equally by men and women.
In your opinion, is equality between men and women in endoprosthetics still a big issue?
Indeed, it is a very big topic! The medical specialist field continues to be a male-dominated industry. So are the hospital hierarchy structures. However, they are now slowly transitioning from a previously male-dominated workforce to a more balanced male and female workforce. For example, doctors and orthopedists are uniting in organizations such as "WOW - Women in Orthopedics Worldwide" or "die Chirurginnen" (the female surgeons) in Germany and are committed to equal opportunities for women in orthopedic surgery.
I support all female surgeons in their work and visibility.
What do you wish for the future of women in this professional field?
I’m very encouraged that equality between men and women is being espoused everywhere. We see it in children's books where positions are represented by both males and females regardless of profession. A man can be a "nurse" and a woman can be a "doctor". In the spirit of "a man can also become the “Chancellor of Germany"!