Working for a feed company; pros and cons
The following blog was originally posted on the Vets: Stay, Go, Diversify Facebook page and has been reproduced here with kind permission of the author. It provides an insightful look at the pros and cons of work outside practice within a large company.
“Having been in my current role as Vet and Equine Nutritionist at a feed company for just coming up to a year I thought some feedback for others considering such a career move from practice or elsewhere might be useful.
For: Working for a big(ish) company has its advantages – training in everything from sales and negotiation to presenting and excel to vet and nutrition CPD. Plus any memberships, registrations, subscriptions or anything else I need are paid for without quibble. Reasonable pay (circa 40-45k) plus benefits and car. Good support, regular appraisals and an emphasis on development.
And the role itself: massively varied with control of your own diary- mix of yard meetings, office meetings, business-to-business collabs, research and advising, teaching, lecturing and organising internal and external CPD. You need to have a commercial interest because any role in the commercial sector has that focus, obviously, but this is a great opportunity to develop your skill set and enough practice to gain some confidence – in proposals, pitches, negotiating, managing and setting budgets and targets, working fast and efficiently (doesn’t come naturally to me!), customer interaction and support, and even marketing, promotion and PR; what works and what doesn’t. There’s a lot do! And pretty much, if you have an idea or interest that you can pitch successfully internally (logistics, investment and returns etc) you have the opportunity to run with it and make it fly which is pretty cool (worry about pressure of making the predicted returns on it later…!). The prospect of working internationally – I currently advise where required from the UK because we have staff elsewhere but there’s definitely the option for more travel in this type of role.
Against: the hours (45+pw plus driving time, usually averages out at a 12 hour work day), driving (500-1000 pw though would depend on where you live and specific role of course), staying away (1-4 nights a week, every week, averages at about 2 pw, with the odd weekend night unavoidable). Sales chat! Quite a time waster. Some internal meetings inevitably end up with a lot of it however. The inefficiency of endless internal admin and reports which divert from doing the actual job – quite similar in other companies and similar roles probably but I have little to compare with in the commercial sector. It is certainly much more than in practice. The inefficiency of a larger company – gaining approval for plans or investments from multiple departments can take a very long time and if you don’t shout loud enough can miss the boat on whatever opportunity you were working on as a result which is frustrating. This is a very competitive sector, which is good sometimes and bad at others! Makes for quite a pressured work environment. There’s positives and negatives to working with big yards – they can be variable to work with, some great and others less so (as vets in practice will know about as well of course).
Overall, this is a great role to broaden and develop your skill set which is increasingly important in the inevitable changes in work force requirements in the future. Whether this role will even be relevant?! But it has been a step in the right direction to develop further after leaving practice. I was certainly not expecting to use my clinical knowledge and skills to the extent I have and having left practice rather demoralised it has reminded me why I wanted to be a vet in the first place, which is quite a relief! I won’t be staying in this role for much longer for the reasons stated above (the driving mostly) but it has provided a good focus for what to do next and, importantly, some great opportunities and contacts for future roles.”