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Animal Health Careers: An Expert's Journey

Off to the races

Dr. Simmons was inspired to become a veterinarian after her childhood pet, Scotty the cat, needed emergency surgery. Her career has spanned private and corporate practice, and roles in Professional Services and Regulatory Affairs in animal health pharmaceutical and diagnostics companies, in the US and in Europe. Now Dr. Simmons runs her own consultancy, specializing in Regulatory Affairs and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Does that sound like a great career path to you? Read on for advice on building your animal health career from a successful industry leader.

Follow the scent of your career goals

Talk with people in the animal health industry and you'll hear a surprising breadth of experience from each of them. Animal health companies are smaller than their human counterparts, so you can move within and  between functions more easily than in human health.

You just have to know what you want. Set your career goals (LINK TO PREVIOUS BLOG POST): that might be leadership, or becoming an industry expert in a specific area, from sales to marketing to research.

Whatever your goals, make sure people know. Volunteer for special projects, seek out mentors and ask questions of your colleagues. As Dr. Simmons says, 'Stay agile. Be open to handle a lot of different tasks at once.'

Animal health is a small world

 Four companies dominate the global animal health pharmaceutical industry: Zoetis, Boehringer Ingelheim, Merck and Elanco. Many medium-sized firms an start-ups are growing too. You'll find jobs in animal nutrition (livestock feed and pet foods), animal diagnostics, animal vaccines, and even pet toys, apps and genetic testing.

If you move between companies you will find colleagues you already know. Your reputation and your friendships will follow you throughout your career.

Not your average bear: animal health companies want  diverse thinkers 

The animal health industry is now addressing the scarcity of women and people of color in leadership positions.  Dr. Simmons says, "We are now taking a hard look at whether we truly reflect our customers' wider culture and environment."   Opportunities are opening up throughout animal health, from veterinary practice to industry. The more you learn, the more attractive you become as a candidate.

Create your unique animal health career

Whether you want to climb the leadership ladder, become a technical expert in one area, or work in a range of functions, you can have a long and fruitful career in animal health. It's up to you: choose your goals, make your plans, and build a career you love.

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Animal Health Careers: An Expert's Journey
Amanda McDavid