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Women’s History Month | Four Animal Health Leaders to Know and Celebrate

by Danni Hammontree | Mar 10, 2021

March marks the annual celebration of Women’s History Month. It’s a time to focus on female leaders, history-makers and inspirationalist, from the big names to the unsung heroes of our society, communities and our industry.

This year, we are honored to celebrate Women’s History Month by introducing four Corridor Advisory Board Leaders. Get to know each of these industry trailblazers as they share where they find inspiration, advice for the next generation of female leaders and even reveal a few surprising details about other career interests.

Cheers to all the strong, bold women that make the animal health industry successful! 

Bonnie Rush | Dean - College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University

Bonnie Rush

If you had a motto, what would it be? 

Bonnie:  No off-season.


What woman inspires you? Why? 

Bonnie: My Mom and my sisters.  Hard-working. Smart. No-nonsense.


What job, other than your current one, do you think you would be really good at? 

Bonnie: Homicide detective: deductive reasoning and work hours are similar to equine medicine.


What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you? 

Bonnie: I am the Sunflower State sprint (50m, 100m) champion for my age group.


Are there any assumptions about women that you would like to change? Why?   

Bonnie: The majority of women in academic leadership positions today are single or have a strong support partner with flexible work hours. Most female academic leaders do not have children living at home and hold no responsibility for elderly parents. These parameters are not true for Dean Henry or me, but we are the minority. These standards are not reasonable or sustainable parameters for female academic leaders in the future.  


What do you believe will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?  

Bonnie: Work-life balance. 

Caroline Belmont | Head of US Global Innovation & Regulatory Affairs, Boehringer Ingelheim 

Caroline Belmont


What motivates you? 

Caroline: Every day brings something new and different. No two days are the same and I enjoy the diversity.


If you had a motto, what would it be? 

Caroline: ‘Keep Calm and Carry On.’  I like the historical background of this motto from the UK, and try hard not to get phased by unexpected challenges!


What advice do you have for women who want to pursue a similar career path as you? 

Caroline: I learned a lot working in roles for different companies and being able to work in different locations around the world. I also have a passion for animals and working in the animal health industry. Finding a career in a field you truly enjoy, as well as being open-minded, curious and willing to try different areas within your chosen field, helped me enormously.


What woman inspires you? Why? 

Caroline: There are many wonderful women leaders, but I have been particularly inspired by a number of women politicians eg. Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel, Condoleeza Rice and now Kamala Harris. They have each achieved enormously significant and hard-fought leadership roles in truly challenging and unique circumstances. 


What job, other than your current one, do you think you would be really good at? 

Caroline: I am very interested in the behavior of people and animals. I love to train horses and could probably make a go of it today. However, I am also very interested in Psychology and Counselling as well, and while I would need some formal education first, I would be very interested in that field as well.


If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

Caroline: I would love to learn to fly and get a pilot’s license


What would you tell your younger self? 

Caroline: I wouldn’t change anything. It’s OK to make mistakes so long as you learn from them!


What has been your biggest failure and how did you learn from it? 

Caroline: In the past, I allowed work to take up too much of my time for too long, and there were personal consequences. I have tried hard to maintain a better balance since that time. 


What is the importance of women’s history month to you? 

Caroline: To recognize the pioneers, those that made a difference and have helped all of us that followed.


What do you believe will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you? 

Caroline: The rapidly increasing speed of change and need to adapt to it all, as well as continuing to juggle life, family and looking after yourself.

Abby Johnson | Site Director, Nestlé Purina PetCare

Abby Johnson

What motivates you? 

Abby: I am motivated to learn new things every day to ensure growth in myself and my team. Growing yourself daily, even in small ways, is essential to being the best version of yourself.


If you had a motto, what would it be? 

Abby: The secret of getting ahead is getting started.


What advice do you have for women who want to pursue a similar career path as you? 

Abby: Be prepared. I suggest women build healthy relationships with advocates, create a strong personal brand, position themselves as experts in their field, and communicate with confidence.  You should know that it’s going to be a tremendous amount of work, but embrace it. If you can love the work you do, you will be seen and inspire great things around you.


What woman inspires you? Why? 

Abby: Pat Summit. “When you learn to keep fighting in the face of potential failure, it gives you a larger skill set to do what you want to do in life. It gives you vision. But you can’t acquire it if you’re afraid to keep scoring.” 
When you hear the name Pat Summitt, one word comes to mind: legend. Pat Summitt was the head coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols and is the all-time winningest coach in college basketball history for both men’s and women’s teams! Throughout her coaching career, Summitt became known for her inspirational leadership. Pat’s legacy, however, is measured much more by the generations of young women and men who admired her intense competitiveness and character, and as a result, found in themselves the confidence to become more than they ever thought possible. They found the courage to be the best from her strength and leadership. It’s important to never give up, no matter what you’re afraid the outcome will be. Don’t let the idea of failing keep you from playing the game. When you keep fighting to overcome failure and get better, you’ll end up growing as an athlete and as a person.


What would you tell your younger self? 

Abby: I would steal this quote from Sheryl Sandberg “At a certain point, it’s your ability to learn quickly and contribute quickly that matters. We need to shift from thinking ‘I’m not ready to do that’ to thinking ‘I want to do that—and I’ll learn by doing it.” This is the most critical advice I would provide. Because being comfortable with always needing to learn makes you better in all you do.


What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given and by whom?


Abby:
 “It is what it is. But it will be what you make it.” - John Brocke 
It was a profound statement that was needed early in my career. It helped me make sure we learn from the past but not fall victim to making it consume our future. We learn from it and move to make the best future we can make. 


What is the importance of women’s history month to you? 

Abby: Women's History Month is a crucial time to remind the nation and the world of women's important work and the impact of how we have all grown from the impact. By highlighting women who have made a difference in history, it opens up that world of what is possible for our future.


What do you believe will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you? 

Abby: The biggest challenge for the next generation of women is to change the generational expectations. Know what you want and be relentless in your preparation. Hone the skills necessary to give you those opportunities. Become the best and leave no doubt. 

Carolyn Henry | Dean - College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri

Carolyn Henry


What Motivates You?

Carolyn: Improving the quality of life for animals and people


If you had a motto, what would it be? 

Carolyn: We’ll either have a good time, or a good story. And if we do it right, we’ll have both!


What would you tell your younger self? 

Carolyn: You’re not gonna believe how this turns out!


What has been your biggest failure and how did you learn from it? 

Carolyn: I really don’t believe there are true failures in life.  I think there are necessary delays of success and course corrections, but not failures.  


If you could change one thing in the world today, what would it be?


Carolyn: Health care disparities


What is the importance of women’s history month to you? 

Carolyn: The dialogue and recognition of women during Women’s History Month helps frame the narrative about the role of women in the workforce and society and provides a glimpse at role models to inspire future generations.

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