Founder of The Webinar Vet, Anthony Chadwick, explains how a growing pet population during the pandemic represents both an opportunity and a challenge for a business focused on vets’ continuing education
‘Bringing webinars into the veterinary profession helped to make vets’ and nurses’ lives easier as well as protecting the planet by reducing travel miles,’ says Anthony Chadwick, Founder and Chief Veterinary Officer of The Webinar Vet, an early adopter of this mode of learning.
Part of Chadwick’s role, he says, is ‘to set the cultural tone’ for the businesses he leads. He believes that this is a way to avoid toxic environments creeping in by letting others affect the and helps ensure that those he employs ‘love what they do and have fun’.
In this interview, Chadwick talks about the importance of having a great attitude, why some vets are keen to develop business skills further into their careers, and why he thinks you should learn by working for others before setting up your own company.
Can you tell us a little bit about your current role and what it involves?
I’m the founder of Alpha Vet International. We have four business units within the umbrella company: The Webinar Vet; Simply Vet; WikiVet; and Conference Virtually. I’m the Chief Veterinary Officer in these businesses. My role within the company is to magnify the brands through my writing and networking as well as the meetings I attend. We are a unique business within the veterinary profession because we take care of continuing education for vets and nurses, as well as recruitment.
Did your Business School/university experience help get your business off the ground? If so, how?
No, vets weren’t taught business skills at vet school. When I qualified, many vets learnt these skills as they became more senior in the practice and eventually became partners. Now, most practices are owned by corporate entities. This allows vets and nurses to concentrate on their clinical skills unless they want to get involved in business. Some vets and nurses will go on to do business qualifications like MBAs or more specific certificates in veterinary practice management.
What single piece of advice would you offer undergraduate and postgraduate students of business and management who plan to start their own companies after completing their studies?
Don’t! After qualifying from Business School, it is always good to go out and learn the practical skills of running a business by working for another company where you can gain invaluable practical experience and make your mistakes. I think this will help you be more prepared when setting up your own business and more likely to be successful.
Mentorship schemes in business are becoming increasingly popular. Who would have been your dream mentor when you were at the outset of your career and why?
The Chair of my board is a man called Rob Noble. He has been a great mentor to me in helping me to grow my business. The key, though, is to have a mentor because it will help your business to develop quicker if you are getting wise advice.
What are some of the challenges and opportunities you’re currently facing, both as a leader and as an organisation?
I stepped down as CEO of The Webinar Vet at the beginning of our financial year to help grow the Simply Vet brand. There is a shortage of vets in the UK as well as a growing pet population during the pandemic. As with everything, this is both an opportunity and a challenge. Vets and nurses are in danger of burning out. Simply Vet’s mission is to make use of the available resources more efficiently and, hence, prevent widespread burnout.
Do you feel that leading a company has enabled you to make a positive impact? If so, how?
I’ve been a vet for more than 30 years. When I set up The Webinar Vet in 2010, there was no online provision for vets and nurses to carry on their continuing education. We had to attend evening meetings or conferences in other cities or countries. This was expensive in time, money and resources and left many of us stressed and tired. Bringing webinars into the veterinary profession helped to make vets’ and nurses’ lives easier as well as protecting the planet by reducing travel miles. As a committed environmentalist, I’m glad that the company contributes to the solution rather than the problem of climate change.
Outline the importance of sustainability to your company’s strategy and why you feel it is important to business approaches as a whole today.
I think we need to be interested in more than just sustainability. The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in Europe. We do webinars on sustainability to encourage vets to be leaders in their communities. We are an Investor in the Environment Silver level business working towards Green. We assess our carbon footprint and try to mitigate it. We offset our own carbon emissions. We plant trees for every new member we acquire and have planted a wildflower meadow at work. These are just some of the things we have done in the business.
Which three words best describe your approach to leadership (or your management style) and why?
Encourager, servant, enthusiast.
My role in the business is to serve others and help them to develop personally and professionally while they are with us. I am also there to set the cultural tone. Some businesses can have toxic environments. This is when the leader of the business allows the lowest common denominator to set the culture and atmosphere. I want people to love what they do and have fun.
What tops your list when looking for new hires at manager level and above?
Great attitude. Being able to connect with their team. Problem solver rather than a problem finder, and being aligned to the vision and values of the company.
Anthony Chadwick is a serial entrepreneur and the Founder and Chief Veterinary Officer of The Webinar Vet, a provider of online veterinary education. He is passionate about providing high quality education and services to veterinary professionals in an accessible and affordable manner which is also sustainable for the environment. The Webinar Vet training has reduced travel mileage by several million miles since starting in 2010 with concomitant carbon reduction.