From Vet to COO: Staying Focused and Reaching Your Goals with Kerrie Hedley

When you set your eye on a goal, doubts often come first before motivation. You tend to ask yourself, ‘Can I do this’? or ‘What if it doesn’t work’? While these are valid concerns, they will only limit and prevent you from reaching your goal. To avoid this, you have to shift your mindset and focus on working towards your objective.

In this episode, veterinarian and COO Kerrie Hedley talks to us about her journey from animal care to business management. She also discusses the barriers and enablers that stop us from reaching our goals and dreams. Kerrie also shares with us her proudest moments and favourite books that may inspire you.

If you want to learn how to focus and reach your goals, this episode is for you.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Find out what’s stopping you from reaching your dreams.
  2. Learn how you can focus on and improve yourself daily.
  3. Discover Kerrie’s secret to success.


Episode Highlights

[02:48] Kerrie Hedley’s Pompom Moments

  • Kerrie’s first pompom moment is being able to keep her late mother-in-law’s cats alive despite having a dog.
  • Next is her career achievements: college graduation, first clinical work, master’s degree and current team.
  • Her third pompom moment is her research work about women in leadership.

[06:36] How Kerrie Learned to Work with Animals

  • Her first teachers are experience and observation.
  • These two helped her learn the knowledge, skills and adaptation to work with circumstances she can’t control.

[07:51] From Veterinary Practice to Becoming a COO

  • According to Kerrie, there are differences and similarities between her work as an equine vet and COO.
  • Both jobs require her to use problem-solving skills. She does not need to have all the answers in her head, but she needs to know how to find it.
  • Kerrie wanted to be a veterinarian since she was 4. She worked at a local vet practice as a receptionist and at a farm, both under the XLVets organisation. 
  • After finishing her degree and during her practice, she was continuously involved with that organisation until she could be their business manager.
  • Listen to the full episode to follow Kerrie’s journey from an equine vet to a successful COO.

[11:38] What Inspired Kerrie to Get an MBA

  • Kerrie already had a postgraduate certificate in business management, which honed her general business skills. However, she wanted to learn more.
  • She thought she needed support for her already high-level career. So, she took the MBA part-time and finished it after two years.

[13:06] How XLVets Work

  • XLVets is a collaborative organisation with independent vets contributing to a central pool of inspiration for their members.
  • Their COO team’s role is to get the members to solve a shared problem like the COVID-19 situation.
  • Every member benefits from this collaboration of ideas and solutions.

[16:22] From Animals to People Management

  • Kerrie communicates with people in both positions.
  • Her experience as a receptionist when she was 14 also significantly contributed to her career shift as she learned how to deal with various people.

[18:15] The Pandemic and the Puppy Demand

  • The demand for puppies stemmed from people being in quarantine and working from home.
  • People opt for dogs because they are a great first experience for taking care of pets.
  • In 2020, as the demand rose, the price for acquiring puppies also increased.
  • However, the problem is how these people will adapt when things return to normal. Who will take care of their dogs?

[24:17] Women in Vet Practice and Barriers to Women Leadership

  • The first barrier is your home life, which includes logistics, family and finances.
  • The second barrier is the perception of systems and structures, like the notion that bosses work long hours daily.
  • Lastly, human resource development is a barrier because vets don’t usually have business management experience or knowledge.
  • Veterinary is a highly feminised profession, and 85% of veterinarians are female. Yet only 20% of business owners are women.
  • Her research shows that a clinician or veterinarian with strong leadership skills has a significant positive effect on patient outcomes.

[29:43] Life Lessons and After Quarantine Plans

  • Her shift to a non-clinical role taught her both hard and soft business skills like leadership and self-awareness.
  • She learned so much about herself from Brené Brown’s books and the chimp paradox model.
  • Learning more and improving yourself make it easier to manage life’s challenges.
  • After the quarantine, she wants to see her family and dine out.

[35:32] Kerrie’s Secrets to Success

  • Her secret to success is hard work, curiosity and focus.
  • She also notes the importance of being conscious about what you want to do.
  • Kerrie plans and she reflects on her days, writing these down in a journal. This method helps her focus.

5 Powerful Quotes

[22:17] ‘If you can see it, you can be it. And the earlier you see it, the better’.

[24:58] On women in business: ‘There’s a real interesting piece in here. Because those who have bought in recently said they thought that would be a barrier. But when they went to do it, it wasn’t at all. So, a lot of this is just about perception; it was perceived’.

[31:02] ‘When things have been difficult — typically it’s things that I might be frustrated about, or conversations that haven’t gone as well as I’ve wanted, or outcomes that just haven’t been quite what I wanted and think — I can change my thoughts, my thoughts on me and my situation.’

[36:12] ‘Practice. Just keep learning as well, just really seek to keep developing yourself’.

[37:33] ‘Putting the intentions down, knowing what you want to achieve by when, thinking about what’s coming up, what you’ve already achieved – that almost helps you get it out of your head as much as it keeps it front and centre and keeps the focus there.’

About Kerrie

Kerrie Hedley is a licensed veterinarian and current Chief Operating Officer of XLVets. She has discovered her love for animal care at a very young age and has since then worked on achieving that and more. Kerrie also has an MBA degree and inspiring research about women’s leadership.

If you wish to connect with Kerrie Hedley, you may reach her on LinkedIn or through their company website.

Enjoy the Podcast?

Working on your goals and dreams is not an easy feat. But Kerrie’s story and her tips may inspire and help on your way to success. If you enjoyed today’s episode of The Mindset Mentor Meets…, then hit subscribe and share it with your friends!

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To defining success,