David Hallas qualified from Liverpool vet school in 1990 and is general manager at Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health.
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What made you decide to join industry?
I wasn't good enough to make it as a professional cricketer or golfer. Between school and university I worked at ICI (now Astra Zeneca) when Sir John Harvey-Jones was chairman. I found the mix of science, purpose and commerce really stimulating, and decided then that I wanted to join industry after vet school, I just didn't know how or when.
How did you get to where you are today?
After two years in general practice, I joined SmithKline Beecham in a sales role, and then spent a period as a technical adviser. After Pfizer purchased that business I helped set up a new business unit in the UK, then spent a while on European marketing. Five years in the USA was spent initially as a global marketing manager, then as manager of the pig and poultry business. I returned to the UK in 2005 in a part R&D/part commercial role, after which the role of general manager at Schering-Plough was offered to me. After the integration of Intervet I got my current role.
How do you spend a typical day?
I usually say I spend most of my time with my feet on my desk. Really, it's more likely I'll be working with my team, meeting customers and suppliers, trying to grow our business and help our customers' businesses grow.
What do you like about your job?
I like the industry in which we work; it's one that adds value to the country and community and can help people's, pets' and animals' lives. It's wonderful to work with smart, motivated people. The industry is quite small and still retains characters and charm, yet has a global reach and impact. It's also allowed me to travel and pursue lots of interests.⇓
What do you not like?
Pointless administration and unnecessary frustrations.
Why is your job important?
It's necessary to bring science to life, to vets and to owners, to provide them with ways to make their lives easier, to help them provide gold standard care and help to the animals that rely on them. Also, to develop the revenue to support future R&D.
What advice would you give to someone considering a similar career?
Do it, be flexible and open-minded, seize the opportunity, and find ways to be part of every aspect of the business.
What's the best piece of advice you were ever given?
Single-minded determination will help you get what you want; or, if you can cope with serious demands, then it could be Kipling's poem ‘If.’
What was your proudest moment?
Seeing your children succeed makes you proud, also seeing success, especially after adversity.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
Three embarrassing moments spring to mind. First, as a new graduate, proudly lambing a ewe to produce a singleton (and forgetting to check for the twin lamb). Second, accidentally skinny dipping in front of a teenage heart-throb. Third, seeing Gordon Brown stand next to Barack Obama.
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