As well as becoming a mother for the first time a few months ago and being named one of the top 100 most influential women in Mexico, Ayse Kocak is now head of GC Aesthetics, the world’s second largest breast implant manufacturing company outside the US, and parent company to the UK’s only manufacturer Nagor, and EuroSilicone, both of which are sold in over 90 countries.
Ayse agrees that the industry is male dominated, “but then again, there are very few industries that aren’t!” she says. ” Manufacturers of breast implants are no different than any other arena but what’s ironic is that, by and large, the vast majority of our customers are female. I’m living proof that things are slowly changing. From years of managing business and companies, I am very used to working in fields where my peers are mostly men. Frankly, I see being a woman leader in our sector as an advantage. I think being a woman gives my company and me an edge in understanding - and being closer - to the ultimate users of our products.
“As a company, we want to stand out from the crowd and be the pioneers in turning a corporate medical device brand into an appealing consumer-focused one. We want women to have easy access to the information they are looking for and feel comfortable in asking as many questions as possible, as well as to be able to share their experiences with each other in an open manner. To do this we need to understand our customers’ motivations and make sure the way we look, feel and sound resonates with them.
“We are working on a new brand identity that speaks directly to women - something that has never happened as other implant companies speak directly to the surgeon. This will also include social media stratergies, blogs and surveys for women to be able to interact rather than through medical channels. We want women to know that they can be more informed than ever before.”
Along with female global brand director Faye Mingo who is based in the UK, they have set up tours to enable women to go to the UK factories (in Ashby and Cumbernauld) and learn about not just how an implant is made, but how it is tested.
“Breast surgery is a life-changing decision. Education offers women freedom to choose the implant that they think will give them the best, safest result. In the past the patient has not been part of this decision to the extent which I think they should. That's how we want to create a difference in this market.”
In 2007 the PIP implants scandal, caused panic among many women who had them, forcing thousands to go back under the knife to have faulty implants removed and avoid potential health issues after some burst because of poor quality silicone being used by the manufacturer PIP. “The crisis exposed critical issues, such as women not being informed or involved enough in the decision making processover what went into their bodies. The scandal represents a shocking breach of trust, “says Ayse.
“Nagor remain the only breast implant company to have proactively given away hundreds of replacements for free or at a discount to victims (who had PIP implants) –we felt a duty to help women who were feeling very vulnerable and scared. We wanted affected women to feel in safe hands again.
“For over 30 years, Nagor has always been manufactured in the UK. We are very proud of Nagor’s heritage: a British company that is leading the way, in both quality and ethics. We like talking about and promoting our brand as British as people want to know where the product is made.”
Ayse is passionate about both her role as CEO and as a mother. “I juggle both activities with lots of joy and less sleep! I thoroughly enjoy both so I I have the energy for both. Another point is that, as a CEO, I have to travel a lot and traveling with my daughter allows me to address her needs as well those of the company. I just love doing both!
“I started my career in finance. I enjoyed maths at school so that particular career choice seemed obvious. However, I was offered a job at Pfizer pharmaceuticals in sales and marketing which excited me and being a sales person at heart, I was happy to accept the challenge.
“There are a lot of similarities between pharmaceuticals and breast implants- especially as they rely on physicians to recommend to patients so heading GC Aesthetics felt a natural progression. I was also part of the team that launched Viagra, which has even more similarities with breast implants in the sense that both might be considered ‘lifestyle’ choices rather than only health-related. There are many stigmas surrounding both and so the marketing process is very similar; you need to know and understand your audience to develop products to meet their needs and desires.
“I am very honoured to be named as one of the most powerful women in Mexico. I especially enjoy being a role model for young women and showing them what they are also capable of achieving as long as they believe in themselves and work hard to reach their goals.
For more information visit www.gcaesthetics.com