Innovative veterinary careers: Working in industry

Posted on October 30, 2019 by Edwina Gildea

I always thought my A – B veterinary journey would mean I become a large animal vet in Ireland! However the reality was quite different…

Before I give you some insight into what I do, I thought I would wind the clock back a little to how I ended up here. As a student in second level, and indeed while at vet school, I would not have predicted that I would have ended up as a vet in the pharmaceutical industry. At school, my time was very much focused on sport which resulted in me gaining a scholarship to the states to play football… life could have been very different!

I was lucky enough to have a very supportive careers teacher who carried out aptitude tests and guided us on subjects to take and career paths that would lend well to our aptitudes. Based on my strengths and interests, her advice was that I should pursue a career that was medically based but incorporated business. Neither of us at that point could define what course or job ticked all those boxes... but standing here today, I can say that she was completely accurate in her assessment.

Becoming a vet was just the start of my journey...

Edwina Gildea blogWhen I left vet school, I started to work as a large animal vet in Ireland and thought I had reached my goal, and successfully got from A to B. Little did I realise, this was actually just the beginning. Foot & Mouth hit in 2001 which impacted greatly on the farming and veterinary sector. There was no work in my practice, so like many vets I left my job to go and work in the Foot & Mouth outbreak. Following the outbreak, I stayed on to work within Defra as part of the epidemiological to map out the Scottish outbreak.

Hankering to get back to practice and broaden my experience, I returned to clinical work in Glasgow working in a predominantly small animal practice. I loved my time in practice, the memorable clients, the colleagues who are life time friends, and the opportunities it presented. I was quite active within the practice in carrying out educational talks for both our farming and pet owning clients, and through this I developed good relationships with industry colleagues.

It was through one of these connections that I was introduced to a field based role in animal health which I applied for and started in 2006. Initially it was quite daunting to move from general practice into what I perceived as 'the big corporate world of pharma' and I may have initially suffered from 'Imposters syndrome'. But to quote Richard Branson, “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity, but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.".

Working in industry

As a vet in the animal health industry, I get to not just apply, but also develop my veterinary knowledge in so many areas. Within my current role I lead the Veterinary field and Head office team supporting them in delivering education and clinical knowledge to our internal sales team and external customers, ie veterinary practices. I also work with the marketing teams at national and international level as well as our Research and Development team to manage the lifecycle of a product through my veterinary knowledge and insight into market requirements.

I count myself extremely lucky and privileged to be part of such a great team, and company, having been involved in bringing so many fantastic life changing products to the veterinary market. Although I didn’t actively set out to pursue a role in industry, I did however choose to remain within it. The elements of my current role that I enjoy the most are:

  • supporting colleagues in their understanding of new products and disease areas, and seeing them grow in confidence
  • discussing new innovative products and concepts, and being part of a team that brings them to market knowing that it will make a positive impact on pets and their owners
  • Being part of a team that is passionate about what we do and always wanting to be the best at what we do.

If you discover your plans/career path is not fulfilling, or making you unhappy, there are many opportunities out there that will deliver. Don’t be afraid of change - change brings opportunities. A veterinary degree is a license and a door opener to many career opportunities that can fulfil your commitment to improve animal health, as well as being personally fulfilling.


Edwina Gildea will be speaking on the session Inspiration for an Innovative Career at the London Vet Show on 14 November. This session is part of a series of exciting careers content produced in a partnership of BVA and Zoetis taking place at London Vet Show this year, which includes our Croissants and Career Hacks sessions: Finding the Right Employment for You for employees and Employee Engagement: How to make sure your talent thrives for employers.

Edwina Gildea

Written by Edwina Gildea

Companion Animal Veterinary Lead at Zoetis

Edwina qualified as a Veterinary Surgeon in Dublin and has worked in both livestock and companion animal practice in Ireland and Scotland. She joined Pfizer Animal Health in 2006 as an Area Veterinary Surgeon, moving into the role of the National Veterinary Manager in 2014 for Zoetis. In 2017, she took up the role of the UK Companion animal veterinary lead. Throughout this period with Zoetis, Edwina has been involved with R&D, marketing, and technical teams at national and international level in bringing many innovative companion animal products to market while continuing to keep close contact with clinical practice through weekend locuming.