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Farm to boardroom: meet leader Laura Villarreal

Laura is determined to keep animals and humans healthy

January 1, 2020

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Cow being fed

While feeding chickens and milking cows on the family farm, Laura Villarreal learned an important lesson: “Doing things well has nothing to do with gender. What matters is the passion we bring to every task.”

Laura, general manager of our Animal Health business in Chile and Argentina, has been passionate about caring for animals for as long as she can remember. “The professional I am today is thanks to the inspiration I had as a child working with my father on the farm.”

Bridging the gap between animal and human health

Laura joined our Animal Health business in 2006 after earning degrees in veterinary medicine and pathology. She developed a specialty in poultry and helped hundreds of farmers across Brazil keep their chickens, turkeys and other birds free from fast-spreading diseases.

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She’s held multiple leadership roles for our poultry business in the U.S. and Latin America. In each role, her goal is to inspire teams “to deliver medicines, vaccines and health programs that keep poultry, pigs, cattle and other animals healthy.”

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The job is challenging. “I’ve been working to build a cohesive team across the region for the past several months. It’s difficult because there are different cultures and economic and political situations in Chile and Argentina, but it’s a good challenge to have,” says Laura. “Imagine people with unique potential coming together from two fantastic, rich countries, solving problems and believing in the impact our actions can have on the world.”

The “impact” not only applies to animals. “I care deeply about people too. If animals get sick, that can jeopardize human health and the food supply,” says Laura. “My work helps people get enough quality food. I help the industry grow, which means more and better jobs, and I help families have a better future. Most of all, my work leaves a legacy of a better world for my daughters.”

Laura Villarreal's family laughing

How Laura stays motivated

When she’s not working to keep animals healthy, Laura spends time with her daughters to unwind and recharge. “We love to play, have picnics and cook. My family energizes me and gives me a reason to smile all the time.”

The secrets to a successful career

One of Laura’s favorite roles is developing others to be their best. To help employees reach their potential, she encourages them “to approach work with dedication, courage and positivity.” Her motto is “100% responsibility, 0% excuses.”

She also says that several behaviors can help pave the way to a successful career:

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“Always try to learn something from every person who crosses your path.”

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Ask for support

“Believe in the power of ‘I don’t know, but I will try to know.’ When we’re humble and acknowledge that we need support, we show we’re open to learning and willing to try something new.”

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Believe in a purpose

“A job shouldn’t only be about earning pay or holding a position in a company. Work should be meaningful. When we understand our greater purpose and the impact we have on others, we perform at our best.”

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Never say “no” before trying

“We will never be ready for everything, but once we’ve tried with dedication and great courage, we can be ready for anything.”