Q&A with Swisse CEO, Radek Sali

Q&A with Swisse CEO, Radek Sali

What’s the 30 second elevator pitch on your company? What do you do? What makes you different?
Swisse – an Australian company dedicated to making people healthier and happier worldwide – is a leader in clinically proven natural medicines, with over 5 decades of experience. Swisse products are Australian researched, made and owned and the Swisse team are passionate about living by their 4P’s – where People, Principles, Passion must come before Profits. Swisse is carbon balanced and loves giving back to the community to benefit people and our environment. It’s such principles and proven products that give the Swisse team and consumers a reason to CLED – “Celebrate Life Every Day!”

There’s been a fair bit of controversy around complementary medicine in Australia whether that’s home births, reflexology or manufacturing quality of products. How has that affected the market for Swisse products?
Swisse prides itself on delivering benchmark standards. All of our products contain scientifically validated ingredients and are based on over 25 years of research to deliver the best possible result. Swisse Ultivites are one of the only multivitamins in the world that have passed the test of a lengthy double blind, placebo controlled clinical study where the formula was proven to deliver therapeutic benefits. Because of this our products are trusted amongst consumers who are immediately assured of premium quality when picking Swisse off the shelf. Swisse Women’s and Men’s Ultivite are Australia’s number one multivitamin choice.

Where do you see your company heading over the next five years?
It’s been a very exciting time for Swisse over the past year with our product range growing considerably. We have launched fourteen products under the Ultiboost banner (proven remedies for specific life stages and needs) as well as Trimshot (natural weight loss aid) and Chlorophyll (detox drink) as part of our new superfood range. We listen to our customers and keep abreast of the latest research to develop ground breaking formulations and we are certainly set to continue this trend over the next five years.

What’s the biggest challenge for the company at the moment? How do you seek to address that?
Managing growth. We grew 58% last quarter year on year; getting the people structures right, having cash to take advantage of opportunities and maintaning our all important culture. We have to remain dynamic and constantly reinforce that change is good and deeply instilled as a natural process amongst the team. Reward and recognition is central, people when encouraged perform better, hence growth becomes easier. Always ensure you do all you can to maintain best cash position, and always forecast for the worst case so you never come up short.

What’s the biggest opportunity for your industry at the moment?
More so than ever, consumers are health savvy – their knowledge of vitamins, minerals and supplements is not underestimated and we love delivering new and exciting products to make our customers healthier and happier. We are also leading the way with our ‘sustainable free range fish oil’. All of our fish oil products are free from high levels of environmental toxins found in farmed fish and have not undergone harsh chemical extraction processes. For example, our new Ultiboost Joints formula contains wild Neptune Krill Oil which is sourced sustainably from the Southern Ocean. Krill oil is extracted from the most abundant marine biomass known as Antarctic krill. At the bottom of the food chain, Antartic krill never reach the surface which ensures a pure, contaminant free source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Tell us a bit about how you got to where you are today?
I have worked hard and never shirked when it comes to a job that most would avoid. You have to believe in yourself, others will follow if you are assured. I started my career whilst at uni working casually in a Village Cinemas candy bar, always taking my role very seriously, just like university. That methodology saw me travel the world gaining very important cultural experiences and learn from a very dynamic environment, where you have new product (films) to sell every week. 11 years later, I recognised that I needed to change industries, to prove to myself and potentially others that I could be successful no matter what industry. Health is a perfect fit, Dad is a Professor of Surgery and Mum is a Medical Scientist, so what I do comes naturally as it is what I have been brought up on. Best part is that I get to practice my business skills as well. I started at Swisse when we were turning $15million PA, 4 and a half years ago, now I am proud to say as a result of a great team effort we are turning $65milion PA.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
Focus on your market as well as the opportunities outside of it to create success.

What are the skills that you promote and most respect at work?
The Swisse team all embrace benchmark principles and good ethics and strive to achieve three key objectives. Firstly we must meet our customer’s needs by providing them with well researched and scientifically validated benchmark drug free medicines, and empowering them with the vital knowledge necessary for great health. Secondly, we must meet our societal objectives, by respecting our environment and investing back into the community to create opportunities for others. Thirdly, we must meet our financial objectives to ensure that we can continue to thrive and reward team members and business partners who deliver on benchmark standards.

What has been your greatest challenge to date as far as your career is concerned?
Reliasing it was time to change industries after 11 years of doing something I loved.

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