Neil, Director, Commercial Operations, knows how to win. More importantly, he knows how to build a team of winners. A passion for people and an entrepreneurial spirit are some key ingredients to a winning recipe that Neil has developed with over 21 years at Zoetis and its predecessor companies. Read on to learn how this antipodean (look it up) business leader keeps his team engaged, surpasses performance objectives, and navigates change.
Seeking New Challenges
While Neil has collected a wealth of experience on the commercial side of the animal health business, his career hasn't always walked a traditional path. Having worked as an Area Manager at Fort Dodge (now Zoetis) for several years, Neil twinned his business and management expertise with entrepreneurialism, opening a 21-employee landscaping company. "I always wanted to own my own business, so when the opportunity came, I took the chance to apply what I had learned in the corporate world to a totally different venture," he said. "It was a great exercise in the Run it Like You Own It mindset, and I draw upon the experience now that I'm back in the animal health world."
When he returned to the animal health industry, Neil accepted a role with Zoetis (then Pfizer Animal Health) – this time in the United States. He became Regional Sales Director, East Region, for the U.S. Cattle and Equine business, where he played a major role in two successful transitions for the team. President, International Operations, Rob, worked closely with Neil in the U.S. and Australia, and nominated him to be featured in in this series. "Neil was a key player in the integration of the equine business into cattle," he said. "As a leader, he developed a very loyal team that continually delivered strong performance – even during a difficult drought season. His leadership skills were further proven when we looked at results from our Colleague Survey: Neil held one of the highest engagement scores on the team."
A Focus on People
When asked how he keeps teams engaged, Neil said it's important to invest in your people and to understand thought processes as they deal with customers and deliver objectives. As a champion of the Zoetis Core Belief Our Colleagues Make the Difference, Neil explained: "A company can have the best systems and procedures in the world, but if the people who are executing those systems and procedures aren't running it their best, then those things mean nothing. The difference is the people. I like to joke with my team that a Ferrari is just a hunk of metal until someone gets behind the wheel, only then does it become a car."
Neil leads by setting an example of accountability for himself and each team member as individuals. When leading during times of change, Neil said that it was very important to keep his team focused on results and drive business as usual.
Transitioning to the Commercial Operations team made sense after Neil's experience in sales: "I enjoy my current role because of the diversity element – I've always been involved with sales teams, and in my role I get to see a 360 degree view of the business. I'm really enjoying that, because even at my age, you can never stop learning. The challenges never stop: it's a very intense role."
A Partner to His Customers
As Zoetis works to deliver across the continuum of care, Neil plays a vital role by working with customers to understand their business needs, negotiate the right terms and offer effective solutions. From developing eCommerce platforms to adaptation of vaccines and refining rebates, he collaborates with customers as a true business partner.
"With Neil's deep breath of experience and his strong people skills, it comes as no surprise that he has outstanding relationships with customers," said Lance Williams, Vice President, Australia and New Zealand. "Neil, in particular, has played a leading role in redefining our relationships with some customers, which has opened doors that were previously closed to us. One of Neil's true strengths is to look for key partnerships with customers, and ultimately, look for win-win scenarios to ensure these important relationships are long-term. He's a highly trusted colleague and team player, who is respected and valued on the the leadership team in Australia."
Plan to Give Back
Neil loves the adrenaline rush of his role at Zoetis, which he marries to a weekend passion for motorcycle rides. But it's not all go: Neil loves to retreat to the farm he and his wife bought several years back. They're even planning to turn some of it into a community-shared space.
"I think at some point you have to give something back to the community," Neil said. "My wife and I have a plan to share our farm with people who need it, whether its scouts or a food pantry or people who would like to have a small garden but don't have the space at home.
"We want to make a difference. That's our retirement plan."