Huw Stacey is commercial manager at Companion Care Services, which provides business services and support to the 94 surgeries of the Companion Care group.
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What made you move from practice into industry?
After 10 years in practice I was at a crossroads in my career and looking to make ‘the next step’ from an assistant's position in a lovely small animal practice. I considered many options, and decided to give industry a try because it sounded interesting and was a risk-free option: if it didn't work out I could find work as a locum straight away.
How did you get to where you are today?
While in practice I obtained a postgraduate diploma in companion animal behaviour counselling at the University of Southampton. This really helped with my first role in industry as a technical adviser for VetPlus, since it enabled me to speak with authority about my favourite subject – cognitive dysfunction syndrome. The skills and experience that I developed in that role enabled me to step into my current role with Companion Care.
What does your job involve?
The core of my role is to represent the group in meetings with clinical suppliers. Having identified what I consider to be the suppliers, products, equipment or opportunities that represent the best option for the group, I then communicate this to the partners. Contrary to popular belief about corporate practices, these decisions are not based solely on price. A number of other factors are also taken into consideration including product range, clinical features, training and support.
What I am not is a buyer – the joint venture partners in each of our surgeries ultimately have the freedom to choose what products they wish to use. My role is to enable them to make an informed decision.
What do you like about your job?
The role has a lot of variety – no two days are the same. I am always working towards a variety of short- and long-term goals, and I still get to think like a vet and hear about all the latest drugs and equipment.
What do you not like?
The greatest challenge is considering everything from the viewpoints of the joint venture partners and their teams, our suppliers, Companion Care Services, our clients and, of course, our patients.
Why is your job important?
I help to maximise the potential of relationships between Companion Care and our suppliers. My clinical experience enables me to identify opportunities that might otherwise go unrealised.
What advice would you give to someone considering a similar career?
Be flexible, open-minded and prepare for a steep learning curve!
What's the best piece of advice you were ever given?
My father once told me ‘When things go wrong, it's either a conspiracy or a cock-up, and it's usually the latter’!
What was your proudest moment?
I have many, but the births of my two sons, Will and Tom, are at the top of the list.
Tell us something not many people know about you.
In my spare time I compete in dog agility. Last year my senior dog, Wingnut, and I completed our journey from the lowest level (‘elementary’, where we started in 2003) all the way to the highest (‘advanced’, now known as grade 7).