Laura Olsen’s fierce sense of responsibility has been her guiding light since she began her career. She chose to study International Affairs at George Washington University with one big idea: to make the world a better place. After university, Laura started working in politics. She never imagined that she would one day find herself making a positive impact as the leader of the Zoetis U.S. Petcare Business. Read on to learn how approaching change with enthusiasm and fearlessly raising her hand to opportunity has paved the way for Laura’s vibrant career journey.
When Laura completed her studies, she worked for a California congresswoman - until responsibility called: her elderly grandparents fell ill and she volunteered to return home to care for them. Many people would see this as a career setback, but Laura took it as an opportunity. While she was looking after her grandparents, she found a job managing events for a human health pharmaceutical company. Little did she know this was going to be the gateway to an amazing career in marketing.
Seizing Development Opportunities
Over the next two years Laura learned all she could from the marketing team about product launches and eventually she shifted roles to project management. Laura loved the work. Providing products that improved peoples’ lives. Meeting customer needs. Making the world better. She was considering going back to school for an MBA when opportunity knocked again. A marketing colleague went on maternity leave and Laura seized the chance to learn and show her capabilities. She asked if she could take on some of the colleague’s projects in addition to her events work. Nine months later Laura was officially working in marketing, where she remained for several years until she was recruited by Pfizer.
Laura started her tenure at Pfizer in human health. However, a colleague mentioned to Laura that with her passion and love for animals, she might want to explore shifting to animal health. Once again, Laura approached the possibility of change with enthusiasm.
“I spent one day at Zoetis (then Pfizer Animal Health) and truly fell in love with the people, the culture the mission,” said Laura. “I was given the opportunity to lead the pain and anesthesia group and it was the best decision I’ve made in my life. I’m led by a love for marketing and communicating with customers, and identifying their needs and delivering meaningful solutions for them – all paired with my love of animals.”
A Career Punctuated by Accountability
The passion Laura brings to Zoetis is reflected by the career she has built working on the entire range of Zoetis Petcare products, from Dexdomitor® to Convenia® to Apoquel®. The career-defining product where she made the most impact? Apoquel.
“I had the chance to build the market for Apoquel, which was very new for us at the time. Apoquel was a paradigm-changing medicine in dermatology, and launching it was perhaps one of the best and most challenging experiences of my life,” said Laura. “A few weeks after launch, the demand for the product was so significant that we knew we had vastly underestimated the need in the marketplace. It quickly became one of the most challenging points in my career: I felt a lot of personal accountability for turning the ship around and fortunately, we were able to do it.
“I was determined to represent our field force and customers. When I think about the experience, I was committed to providing this innovative solution to veterinarians so that they could significantly change the lives of animals under their care,” she adds. “I remember hearing from veterinarians that pet owners said, ‘I got my dog back.’ And it felt remarkable to deliver this innovation for these animals.”
Laura attributes her determination with Apoquel to the culture at Zoetis: “I consistently felt the support of leadership during the launch, and that told me a lot about the organization and type of people that work for this company. That experience solidified that this was going to be my home for my career. I gained critical leadership skills from Apoquel that have guided me to where I am now as U.S. Petcare Lead.”
Driving Future Success for U.S. Petcare
In her role leading U.S. Petcare, Laura continues to place an emphasis on the people and the culture. She said that because our colleagues have an inherent respect for animals and the veterinary profession, they form and live the vision and mission of Zoetis. Additionally, the product innovation Zoetis brings is unsurpassed. “We view our role in this industry as inspiring the heart and informing the mind of our customer – and we do that through our products and our people.”
There are more game-changing products and solutions ready to drive the future of Zoetis in the U.S., including the imminent approval of Simparica Trio; canine pain and feline pain management products; and the ongoing integration of Zoetis diagnostics and pet care sales. “It’s an incredibly exciting time. I couldn’t be more honored and humbled by the opportunities Zoetis has afforded me,” said Laura.
It’s safe to say the positive impact Laura makes for pets and their owners each day is making the world a better place, just as she hoped.