Marketing within the livestock industry has been at the heart of my career
The partnerships between vets, industry professionals and the pharmaceutical industry is a dynamic place and never without change.
As far as marketing is concerned, creative planning and achieving goals as a team is rarely without challenges. Product supply, regulation and competitor activities all have an influence and make life interesting.
My business role centres primarily on the poultry side of Elanco’s business. The UK poultry industry is highly consolidated, and dominated by three producers that supply 90 per cent of the chickens consumed in the UK. There is growing consumer demand for meat and eggs, and food safety and bird welfare are paramount.
When prescription medicines are involved, marketing veterinary pharmaceuticals is mainly to vets. However, feed additives, such as coccidiostats, are regulated by the European Food Safety Authority and are directly managed by the production companies with input from their consultant vets, nutritionists and suppliers.
"The process of marketing is principally about planning and control. Setting realistic objectives, within a certain timeframe and communicating and managing what is required to get there"
Once you understand the industry, the process of marketing is principally about planning and control. Setting realistic objectives, within a certain timeframe and communicating and managing what is required to get there.
Marketing cannot operate in isolation, and effectively understanding and communicating the priorities to the internal team and external marketplace is essential. When dealing with a diverse portfolio, priorities have to be made.
What skills do you need?
Discipline and deliberate investment in planning and time management are essential skills. The greater the commitment, the more successful the outcome will be.
I’m driven by variety, change and teamwork. I grew up in the UK and abroad, and went to many schools, which may well have had an influence on me. From an early age I have always enjoyed travelling.
In 1992, after four years in practice I used a working visa to travel for six months. It was this experience that made me realise that I needed to combine work and travel, and I had to establish how I could effectively achieve this.
On returning to UK, I worked in several practices to broaden my work experience and found myself attracted to an industry role.
It was in 1995 when I found my first international industry job as veterinary adviser for Africa and the Middle East for Mallinckrodt Veterinary. The company had acquired Coopers Pitman-Moore, where much of the portfolio across Africa catered for the prevention and treatment of tropical parasites affecting cattle. From tickborne disease to tsetse fly control, my role was enormously interesting and a complete change from practice life.
"Social connections are key in a specialised small industry"
Mergers and acquisitions have played a major part for many of us working in industry. Within two years, an acquisition provided me with the opportunity to transfer to the South African Division of Schering-Plough Animal Health. My involvement – from local product launches and feedlots to large poultry producers – provided exceptional diversity.
For 15 years, I was also an active committee member of the Veterinary Marketing Association. It’s a not-for-profit organisation that provides cost-effective marketing CPD to the industry, while also acting as a conduit for social networking among like-minded individuals.
What are your challenges?
I am passionate about work, but to be effective and happy, there has to be a balance. Time management and prioritisation are key to success; however, if any job is to be rewarding, I believe it will never be 9 to 5. I love the outdoors. I play golf at weekends and walk the dog and attend my children’s school events when I can.
Who has inspired you?
My first manager in industry was an excellent mentor and led me down a commercial route. I began in a commercial role in South Africa and enrolled for the Chartered Institute of Marketing postgraduate diploma by distance learning, taking exams in the UK and Johannesburg.
What are your career aspirations?
Having run my own independent consultancy for 10 years, I decided to join Elanco Animal Health after the it announced it was to leave Eli-Lilly, the human pharmaceutical parent.
"My degree provided a tremendous grounding which, combined with a work ethic, has offered many opportunities"
I had already worked there for a year as an independent consultant and was waiting to see how the changes would pan out. Working for a smaller more flexible animal health company is more exciting than for a multibillion, highly regulated human pharma company.
The culture within Eli-Lilly was already entrepreneurial; hopefully the changes will be beneficial.
Would you recommend your job to a school leaver?
The veterinary degree is a great asset and opens many doors. Although livestock production had never been a focus in the early years of my career, my degree provided a tremendous grounding which, combined with a work ethic, has offered many opportunities.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Have confidence and worry less. Never over promise, and seek ways to differentiate yourself to add value. Social connections are key in a specialised small industry.
- 1988: Graduated from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC)
- 1988-1989: Small animal intern, RVC
- 1989-1995: Small animal practice UK
- 1991: Awarded certificate in veterinary radiology
- 1995-1997: Veterinary adviser, Africa/Middle East for Mallinckrodt Veterinary
- 1997-1999: Commercial manager, South Africa
- 1999: Awarded Chartered Institute of Marketing postgraduate diploma in marketing and became a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing
- 2000-2008: Product and marketing management for livestock, Intervet UK
- 2008-2018: Founder and director of Vetbrief, providing specialist marketing consultancy for the animal health industry. I undertook a variety of projects and worked for many companies including Merial Equine Health between 2012 and 2017
- 2017- present: Marketing manager, Elanco Animal Health