A print from the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat hangs on the wall behind Kate Farrell (they/them), our global Head of Demand Planning and New Product Introduction and co-chair of Proud and Welcome (PAW), our colleague resource group for the LGBTQ+ community, in their home office. The vibrant yellow subject holds a trumpet and you can almost hear its fiery timbre when you look at it. Kate explained that seeing the Basquiat print in their camera frame when they’re on video calls during the work day is a grounding force because the artist famously used his art to advocate for social justice and humanity – topics that are also very close to Kate’s heart, especially during June as we celebrate Pride Month.
It makes sense that Kate would feel a kindred spirit with a multifaceted artist like Basquiat. They are also multi-talented, curious and an innate problem-solver in their professional and personal life: a DJing, community-organizing, courageous business leader who is helping Zoetis deliver lifechanging innovations for animals.
This curiosity helped Kate build their career over several industries with one thing in mind: improving customer experience. Kate started their career in a call center for an online service provider where they helped frustrated customers troubleshoot internet connection setup. This experience ignited Kate’s interest in continuous improvement and bettering processes.
“Over two years, I developed a passion for user interface and trying to work with programs to make them easier, more intuitive,” they said. “It gave me a real respect for customer service and public-facing roles, which is something I apply when thinking about what our Zoetis Field Force manage every day with our customers.”
Kate went on from the call center to a stint in the wine industry – seeing how it all came together, from supplier to customer – learnings they found they could apply to many different businesses. This led to a decade of optimizing supply and demand on a global scale in human pharmaceuticals before they joined Zoetis as the Global Demand and New Product Introduction Lead. In just three years, they’ve helped guide the launch of key products like Simparica® Trio, which protects dogs against fleas and ticks, heartworm, roundworms and hookworms, and HVT-IBD, a vector vaccine, to protect poultry against infectious bursal disease.
“I lead a team of problem solvers who are driven by their curiosity and desire to make things better and find different solutions,” said Kate. “My team steps in and fills in any cracks that might exist between processes and brings people together to fix issues that might come along as we are trying to set up supply chain to support product launches. There’s never two days the same – and I love that.”
This problem-solving mindset and passion to bring people together to improve circumstances doesn’t stop there. Kate’s a problem-solver and uniting force in their community, too. Last June, as they were working with their hometown’s Pride celebrations as co-chair of their city’s LGBTQ+ charity, they noticed a need for more inclusivity and recognition of the LGBTQ+ colleagues at Zoetis. In a bit of serendipity, this was also when our colleague resource group PAW was getting started. Kate joined and took an active role as an organizer and hasn’t looked back: “My experience with PAW has transformed my relationship with the organization – it has helped me grow as a person. In just nine months, we’ve built a sense of community.”
By creating a safe forum for colleagues to share their stories and bring their full selves to work, Kate said it’s so meaningful to help colleagues feel seen and included. They also noted the importance of creating a safe space for colleagues to make mistakes, particularly around language and terminology. It’s through PAW’s support that Kate felt empowered to bring their full self to work for the first time, sharing their pronouns as they/them.
“Educating yourself is one of the most powerful tools to help provide insight into the existence and experience of others. I was inspired when our CEO Kristin Peck talked about uncomfortable conversations and allowing yourself to experience that because it creates a learning opportunity, and that really resonated with me.”
Sharing their pronouns has had a powerful impact for Kate. One of the most inspiring things they said was to see senior leaders and colleagues add their pronouns to their email signatures and video conferencing profiles to respect everyone’s pronouns and make it easier for others to declare theirs. There are still tough conversations to be had and work to be done, but Kate is happy to see the progress Zoetis – and society – are making.
“We’re starting to see heroes in media come from every walk of life, which is how we will change the conversation.” We’re proud to say they are among our colleagues at Zoetis, too.