Here at Springfield District Vets we’d like to announce that our practice owner and principal veterinarian Jeannet Kessels has been awarded the Australian Veterinary Business Association’s Business Manager of the Year award. Jeannet was among an esteemed number of practice managers to apply for the award and was honoured to learn that she had been chosen as this year’s recipient.

AVBA Director and an award judge, Warren Kelly Said, “Jeannet should be very proud of her achievement—it’s what the AVBA is all about—improving veterinary business. The judging panel was impressed with the standard of applications which made it difficult to compare.” The award which is proudly supported by Lyppard recognises the valuable contributions that business managers make to veterinary practices and provides the recipient with a $1000 cash prize as well as a fully funded trip to the AVBA Annual Conference. Congratulations again to Jeannet!

Below is an interview given by Jeannet for last month’s issues of the AVA’s In The Black magazine.

Five Questions

Just a couple of years ago, Jeannet Kessels likened herself to being a toddler running her own practice; she was “exploring, distractible, toddling here and there, falling face first and easily upset”. Fast forward to now and Jeannet feels that with some experience, formal training and learning from some really great people, she has grown into her position and “has something to contribute at large.” Others, it appears, would agree. And after careful deliberation the AVBA named Jeannet, Business Manager of the Year in 2013.

1. Were you surprised to learn you were chosen as this year’s recipient of the AVBA’s Business Manager of the Year award?
Well, I was incredibly surprised to have been nominated; it was completely unexpected. Then when I saw all the nice things that had been written I was humbled, appreciative and a little overwhelmed.

2. What makes you a good manager?
I would think the best thing I could ever do is to surround myself with people who are smarter than I am in their area of expertise. I am not the smartest person at my workplace, but I guess I have the knack for bringing great people together, finding and developing their strengths, and letting them have their head while I watch appreciatively and give a little direction and guidance.

3. What is the best/worst part of your job?
Being a veterinary surgeon is a pretty nice job really. You get some kudos every day one way or another, whether that is in performing successful surgery, making pets better, or in developing beautiful relationships with clients through sharing their joys and turmoils over a long period of time. As leader it is a great privilege to take responsibility for my staff—having a meaningful impact on their lives as mentor and boss. The hardest bit would have to be making difficult staff retention decision, although over time I am learning to hire successfully and this is less of a problem for me. Errors impacting clients require a process which I find inherently painful.

4. What is one resource you could not work without?
My management and leadership styles require a side kick who is highly process- oriented, strong, focused, driven and thoughtful; and I am most fortunate to have Dr Rachel Ball fitting perfectly into that role for me. Thanks Rachel!
I have benefitted enormously from executive leadership and management studies with Paul Ainsworth at the Lincoln Institute for two years so far. I now have a much deeper understanding of accountability, hiring for talent not skill, negotiation, emotional intelligence and financial basics. Grasping these concepts has allowed me to hit my straps and truly understand what I am trying to achieve at work.

5. What challenges will you face in the year ahead?
You never quite know what the challenges are until you get there. At some point you need to soften the accelerator a little and appreciate what you have achieved. We now have a solid, highly-engaged, happy and motivated team in a great set up. Systems are pretty firm and we have all the gear needed to offer gold standard practice. So, let’s hope, there are no big challenges at work now—just a nice routine and a bit of tweaking, and exploring some enjoyable additions to the practice as they present themselves.