Q How has starting your career at Purina as a marketing intern in 1993 enhanced your insight into the pet industry?
A During my early days here, I learned a lot about the pet food business and about Purina that really prepared me for what was to come. I realized early on that I love working here because I love pets, and everyone here shares a belief that pets and people are better together. I also learned that pet owners share a deep bond with their pets, and we have to work hard every day to earn the trust of pet owners because we are feeding a member of their family.
Q Who has been a mentor to you or given you the best advice in your career?
A I’d have to say my Aunt Sharon. When I was fresh out of college and interviewing with a few companies, I didn’t believe I was presenting myself the best I could. I had played tennis in college (at Miami of Ohio), and Aunt Sharon told me to rely on my tennis experience as I prepared for interviews: develop a game plan going into every interview; study the company just like an opponent, so you know the job and the company extremely well; and use my strengths to my advantage. It worked then, and that philosophy still serves me well today.
Q What do you consider the most exciting new product to come out of Purina in the past year?
A In the past year we launched Purina Pro Plan Prime Plus cat food, which contains a proprietary blend of nutrients that helps cats live longer lives. Prime Plus was created based on a nine-year study of 90 healthy, mixed-breed cats between ages 7 and 17. Nine years is a huge commitment, but the fact that it led to a product that extends the lives of cats proves it’s worth the effort and commitment to make scientific breakthroughs. And this comes on the heels of our launch of Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind dog food, which debuted in 2015 after more than 10 years of research that led us to develop a blend of key nutrients supporting cognitive health in adult dogs. I’ve seen firsthand how it works with one of my dogs, Gus, a golden retriever. When he was about 9 years old, Gus started showing signs of confusion and forgetting simple things, like which door to use to enter our home. We began feeding him Pro Plan Bright Mind, and within a week or two he remembered which door to use and seemed more like himself again.
Q What was your first pet, and what is your favorite memory of it?
A Until I was about 8 years old, we couldn’t have pets because one of my sisters was allergic. A short time after my sister started receiving allergy shots, our veterinarian called and said they had a rescue dog we might like—and that’s when “Shotsy” entered our lives. For the first couple months we had Shotsy, she didn’t bark at all and was a little timid as she was getting to know our family and neighborhood friends. Then one day we were outside playing, and we heard Shotsy start to bark. It was like a revelation for all of us—Shotsy had become comfortable with her new surroundings and new family and started barking and wagging her tail like a puppy. It was one of those warm moments that my family and I still talk about to this day.
QHow would you describe the impact that having a pet has on a person?
A I can do it in one sentence: Life is simply richer with pets