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Why the leadership style Zoetis CEO Kristin Peck adopted in the pandemic still resonates with her millennial workforce today

September 20, 2022, 10:32 AM UTC
Kristin Peck, chief executive officer of Zoetis Inc.
Kristin Peck, CEO of Zoetis Inc., speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, Calif., U.S., on Jan. 14, 2020.
David Paul Morris—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Good morning.

Pets are big business, and they became an even bigger business during the pandemic. No one knows that better than Kristin Peck, CEO of Zoetis, an animal health company with $8 billion in revenue and a $75 billion market cap. Kristin joined Ellen McGirt and me this week on our Leadership Next podcast, to talk about animals and leadership. Some excerpts:

Tell us about “pandemic puppies.”

“What we saw in 2021 was about a five to 10% increase in the number of pets…And really a lot of those pets were adopted by millennials. So obviously, it was great for business for us. It led to our best year ever. And I think the bonds between human and animals became even deeper during the pandemic.”

And now that the pandemic has eased, and people are (sort of) going back to the office, will some of those pets be abandoned?

“We’ve been asking most of the shelters. They have not seen that happening…Most people aren’t coming back five days a week, so they’re still spending a lot of time home with their pets.”

Did veterinary telemedicine take off during the pandemic?

“In the beginning, we thought it really was going to be a game changer. But it’s a little bit more of a challenge in the veterinary space than in the human space, primarily because it is harder to ask a pet how they feel. What really took off was curbside check-in.”

How did the pandemic change your leadership style?

“I took over in January 2020, I had about not even two months before everything changed. But it allowed me to rewrite the book on what it was going to be like for me to be a CEO, and to lean into styles that might have been more comfortable for me, but not what I thought my colleagues expected, or what I thought the world expected of me. I was a working mom with two kids at home, and it was hard to separate during those early months in March, April, May and June, being a working mother with being a CEO. I think it helped me relate to where my colleagues were, and to prioritize what mattered probably faster than I would have expected. I was very connected with colleagues.”

Will that style of leadership continue?

“I think the change is going to continue partially because the workforce is evolving. I look at our workforce today, 50% of our colleagues are millennials and their expectations of the values of their company, the engagement of their leaders, have changed. They want to work for a place where they think the company and their leadership share their values. They want people who are more empathetic, who really engage with them in a very different way, communicate in a different way.”

You can listen to the full interview on Apple or Spotify. Other news below.


Alan Murray
@alansmurray

alan.murray@fortune.com

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This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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