May Yamada-Lifton, Chief Executive Officer, Maypro Group

May Yamada-Lifton brings 20 years of leadership experience from the pharmaceutical, data science and finance industries to Maypro, a branded ingredient supplier. She holds undergraduate degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Tokyo. She completed her MBA with honors from Columbia Business School. Before joining Maypro, her career experience included roles at Pfizer, SAS, CSL Behring, Celgene, Credit Suisse and Health Business Partners. Most recently, she was an award-winning global account manager for SAS where she supported the COVID-19 statistical footprint for Pfizer. May’s experience utilizing data analysis, forecasting and system automation to optimize organizational purchasing, sales and performance is critical to her work at Maypro.

Question: Please discuss some of the key accomplishments of your father, Maypro founder Steve Yamada, including some of the milestone product introductions over the last 30 years.

Answer: My father immigrated from Japan to the United States and his is a classic tale of the American Dream. He started Maypro in 1977 at a time when a business owned by someone whose second language is English faces a different kind of competition in the marketplace. He became a success through sheer grit and perseverance. He focused primarily on two things: Finding new, innovative ingredients with market relevancy and building relationships. Those two elements are cornerstones of Maypro’s business to this day.

Many of the industry’s blockbuster ingredients—such as CoQ10, glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and alpha lipoic acid—were first introduced from Japan to the U.S. market by Maypro. As the United States started to develop proprietary, patented nutraceutical ingredients in the 1990s, Maypro led the introduction of Citrimax, Pycnogenol, Tonalin, Neopuntia and Liposan Ultra among others to the Japanese market.

Today, we’re a multi-company organization with a global ingredients business, finished products businesses in the U.S. and Japan, a ventures arm focused on innovation, and an e-commerce marketplace overseas.

Question: Please talk about some of the ways your leadership background in pharmaceutical commercialization and finance are important in your new role as CEO of Maypro.

Answer: Ensuring we continue to build trust with customers and consumers is critical while also furthering the industry’s regulatory credibility. I want to ensure Maypro is a pillar of excellence by focusing on quality, safety, responsibility, innovation and data.

My experience in commercialization means that we will spend significant time reviewing market data, ingredient science, supplier transparency, and constructing compelling and responsible marketing messaging. I will also focus on operational excellence to further our customer satisfaction.

My background in finance translates to a strong emphasis on data analysis. We will focus on building for the future, innovation, market data and investments that will enhance our growth.

Question: In your role as the co-chair of the Women in Nutraceuticals (WIN) Mentorship Committee, what are you and WIN working to achieve?

Answer: The goals of the WIN Mentorship program are simply to launch leaders! Our first objective is to prepare women for executive and board positions by leveraging experienced leaders who can provide guidance, coaching, advocacy and direction.

Our second objective is to increase the number of women in leadership positions. We believe this would bring not only greater gender balance to the nutraceutical industry but equalize opportunity and pay for women.

WIN’s mentorship program is currently in its beta phase. We are focusing on building a diverse set of mentors who can serve as role models and coaches for the mentees. These are C-suite level executives with years of experience and insight to share.

In this first phase of development, WIN’s mentees are vice presidents on the precipice of breaking the C-lead barrier. It is our hope that these mentees will become mentors themselves so that we can quickly and efficiently expand and diversify our mentorship pool.

The mentorship program is a safe way to network at the highest levels while building relationships and making planned and measurable strides in your career. This program will benefit not only all individuals involved but will contribute to the overall success of the industry.

Question: What sets Maypro apart today? What direction are you mapping out for Maypro as the company moves forward?

Answer: Maypro has built many businesses including direct to consumer operations in the leading markets of US, Japan, China and other international markets. These businesses and presence in many markets have allowed us to gain customer insight, new customer needs and products, and a better understanding of what a new product developer may have to consider when choosing ingredients.

I want to continue this legacy of business model innovation by bringing in entrepreneurial talent to incubate ideas in a structured way. A big driver of innovation is listening to the customers and finding unique ways to meet their needs. Finally, as we scale, I will be working on simplifying and prioritizing operational elements so that our employees can bring their best selves to work and continue contributing to our growth.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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